The Dream Continues
Paronella Park is a unique place in Australia. Unlike many other countries around the world, the number of castles in Australia is limited. So that’s perhaps when we come across them, or the ruins of them, it’s something extra special.
The story of Paronella Park begins with Jose Paronella. A Catalan man from Spain who made his fortune in cane farming after arriving in Australia in 1913. With the money he made, he purchased the land around Mena Creek, just outside Innisfail in Tropical North Queensland and began, with his wife by his side, to build a beautiful castle and grounds.
This area was not only for his wife and children to enjoy, but was also open to the public. The park was seemingly the centre point for social life in the Innisfail region in the late 1930s where there were many dances, functions, weddings and even a regular Saturday night theatre.
Over time, as generations move through life, the park, sitting amongst the rainforest and subjected to numerous Category 5 level cyclones, has slowly ruined. This has actually only improved its beauty and wonder and adds to its fairy tale appeal.
Today, Paronella Park continues to be restored and cared for by its current owners. Visitors still flock to Paronella Park and are able to enjoy the grounds the way Jose Paronella had envisioned right from the beginning.
Both my friend Rachel and myself have visited Paronella Park before and each time we do we agree that it is just as magical. This time was when I returned to Australia after about 5 weeks away and we spent a rainy Saturday afternoon visiting the castle grounds again together.
First off, the customer service here was excellent with a special mention to the person working in the carpark. Despite what some of these photos show it was quite a rainy day and there was a person waiting in the carpark to give everyone an umbrella before they got to the main entrance where there were complimentary umbrellas. It was a nice touch.
Mena Creek Waterfall can be viewed from outside and inside of Paronella Park as it is right on the entrance. Despite it being late May, and all rain should have banished from North Queensland only to emerge in October, we were still experiencing an extended wet season. As a result, the waterfall was flowing quite strongly and was flooding a little bit of the park at the bottom. It was not flooding anywhere near it can get to and has frequently gotten to in the past though!
After spending some time at The Grand Staircase, we ventured into the heart of the grounds…
You can take a tour around the park to learn the impressive story or wander around yourself. As we had both been before a few times we chose to explore just ourselves.
We spent a fair amount of time feeding the turtles and fish on the side of Mena Creek.
“The Tunnel of Love. No Access. Under Structural Assessment.” Every single time this sign makes me laugh…
The highlight for myself (which is hard to say, given this whole area is so beautiful to wander through) is the Kauri Avenue.
Kauri Pines are particularly interesting trees because unlike other trees they have evolved with ‘self-shedding bark.’ Instead of vines and other plants being able to wind and twirl around the trunk pushing themselves upwards to compete with the Kauri for light and life source, the Kauri has evolved to simply shed its bark, sending the vines back down to Earth.
I don’t think this is the reason (ha, ha) why Jose Paronella planted this impressive corridor, but every time I see Kauris I think of how cool that evolutionary trait is.
… Plus they’re also prettttttttty
Kauris can live up to hundreds of years, so when Jose Paronella planted these he knew he would never see them in full. (In fact, at just 90 years old, these Kauris are still only considered toddlers). It really was a gift for the next generations to come.
I stayed charged throughout the day with my Snap Wireless Power Bank.
Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch at the pub around the corner before venturing back north to Cairns.
With love x