Monday, October 19, 2009


Sydney Morning Herald
20 October 2009

Column 8

''Reading your paragraph giving the derivation of platypus as 'flat foot' took me back to Canberra in the 1960s,'' writes Laurie Malone, of Bilgola (Column 8, Friday). ''With the opening of Lake Burley Griffin, the ACT police decided they should have water police like all the other police forces. So a water police station was set up, water police appointed and a water police boat purchased. The police authorities decided the boat should have an appropriate name. So they approached a professor of classics at ANU for a name. They were a little surprised and a little disappointed when he suggested 'Platypus'. They were expecting a more classical name but accepted, thinking that the name of an Australian water-loving animal was OK, if a little pedestrian. It was many years before the penny finally dropped.'' [...]

Canberra Times
20 April 2004

Flat chat on course for a boat's name

IT'S 40 YEARS this month since April showers swelled the hitherto modestly babbling Molonglo into a river big enough to fill Lake Burley Griffin for the first time. A reader who read last weekend's Our Great Lake supplement in this paper with its story about the Water Police is reminded of another tale. The Water Police story mentioned the first police launch, the Platypus.

''Mine is a tale which certainly had currency in ANU circles at the time, though whether or not apocryphal I cannot say,'' the reader writes. ''The then ACT Police Commissioner or other some such exalted officer was casting around for an appropriate name for the first police launch and, encountering at a function one night the then Master of University House, the erudite Emeritus Professor A.D. Trendall, sought his assistance. Trendall suggested the name Platypus. With occasional sightings of this creature in the Molonglo, so recently replaced by the lake, the name seemed eminently suitable and so was adopted for the vessel and for its successor.

''The commissioner may not have realised at the time that, before his appointment as Master, Dale Trendall was a much respected Greek scholar and with something of a sense of humour - 'platypus' derives from the Greek, 'platypous', meaning flat-footed.'' [...]
Australian Federal Police
AFP Emblem – The platypus