Love and the Platypus

Love and the Platypus
By Nicholas Drayson

Synopsis: Which is the greater mystery: the breeding habits of the platypus or the workings of the human heart?

In 1883 young British naturalist William Caldwell arrives in Australia with a mission: to determine for the scientific record whether the platypus really does lay eggs. But first he must travel overland to the Burnett River in Queensland, where he intends to set up camp. On his journey he is hindered and assisted by a cast of characters, including a drunken bullocky and an inscrutable, poetical bushman. Once there, William starts his investigations and encounters the local Aboriginal people, enlisting their help and ultimately learning their tragic history. He also meets a young blind woman with many secrets of her own.

Love and the Platypus is a delightful, captivating novel that examines the obsessive nature of scientific enquiry and its environmental consequences, and the wonders of the natural world and of romantic love.

Published: February, 2008 | ISBN-13: 9781921215995

Author’s Page at

‘How can this tale of an “impossible” animal be at the same time so immediate, convincing and yet so wildly imaginative?.’

Robyn Williams (Australian Science Journalist)

I read this book several years ago when it first came out. It was a fascinating book, full of the science ideas and techniques of the era; how the Aboriginals were regarded and where true understanding of the Australian landscape and its animals existed. Loosely based on a true story, it was a wonderful recreation of the times. I personally could have lived without the love story 🙂 @popsciguyoz

I remember being fascinated by the fact that the guy hauled all that amazing equipment half way around the world and set it up in the bush! Such hard yakka, plodding away with no reward, looking endlessly down the microscope. And then that amazing finding captured in the telegram ‘monotremes oviparous ovum meroblastic’. Sounds like mumbo jumbo but to biologists it was a sensation. @sciencesarah

Book review in The Australian
Book review in The Age


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