Sarah Latham standing between Kauri Pines at Paronella Park, Cairns Australia

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.

Sign over footpath in rainforest reaiding Paronella Park
Entrance to Paronella Park

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.

Mena Creek waterfall with foot bridge above and castle ruins to the right
Mena Creek Waterfall as viewed from Paronella Park

This area was not only for his wife and children to enjoy, but was also open to the public. Paronella 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.

Paronella Park castle ruins in the rainforest

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.

#TheDreamContinues

The Grand Staircase at Paronella Park in the rainforest
The magical Grand Staircase of Paronella Park

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.

Girl standing next to waterfall at Paronalla Park
Rachel from The Daily Luxe admiring Mena Creek Falls from Paronella Park balcony

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!

Girl standing on grand staircase in rainforest at Paronella Park
The Grand Staircase of Paronella Park
moss covered stair case at Paronella Park
Walking down The Grand Staircase of Paronella Park
A sign saying "Stand here for the perfect selfie" situated amongst plants
Cute signs all around Paronella Park advising of the best photo opportunities!
And the photo opportunities are strong at Paronella Park

After spending some time at The Grand Staircase, we ventured into the heart of the grounds…

girl standing in front of castle ruins at Paronella Park
Paronella Park castle ruins in the rainforest
Girl standing in front of castle ruins at Paronella Park
Paronella Park is stunning

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.

Turtles on creek edge at Paronella Park
Well fed turtle friends
Girl standing in front of waterfall at Paronella Park
Stumbling across beautiful waterfalls
A small man made waterfall oasis in the corner of Paronella Park
The Tunnel of Love no access sign in front of an empty dark tunnel

“The Tunnel of Love. No Access. Under Structural Assessment.” Every single time this sign makes me laugh…

Girl standing in front of castle ruins at Paronella Park
Castle ruins in the rainforest at Paronella Park
The many beautiful ruins of Paronella Park

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.

Kauri Avenue at Paronella Park

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.

Girl standing in pathway lined by Kauri Pines at Paronella Park
Rachel looking tiny and providing perspective of these impressive pines

… 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.

Sign that reads Kauri Avenue at Paronella park
‘Those who plant trees knowing they will never sit in their shade, has understood the meaning of life’
Two girls holding hands on pathway lined by Kauri Pine trees

I stayed charged throughout the day with my Snap Wireless Power Bank.

Girl standing with Snap Wireless battery charger at Paronella Park
Girl holding Snap Wireless battery pack charger sitting on staircase in the rainforest at Paronella Park

Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch at the pub around the corner before venturing back north to Cairns.

You can book your own Paronella Park experience here.  or find other beautiful and enjoyable Cairns experiences.

With love x

#TheDreamContinues #ParonellaPark

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