Updated: Apr 24
In April, 2022 I went to visit a beautiful old castle and gardens in the rainforest near Innisfail in North Queensland. It is called Paronella Park and it was built a very long time ago in the 1930's by a man named Jose Paronella. He was from Spain and he moved to Australia to follow his dream. He built a cottage and a very long staircase, a ballroom and theatre and Refreshment rooms all in the middle of the rainforest. Some of the buildings have been damaged by rain and floods and cyclones but they are very beautiful still and very nice to look at.
When we first arrived at Paronella Park a man named Mark Evans, who is the owner of Paronella Park said welcome to us. He said he was happy we had come to visit and he hoped we would really like the park. Him and his wife, Judy have owned it for almost 30 years and they have worked hard to repair some of the damage to the cottage and make sure the other buildings don't fall down so people can keep visiting and learning about Jose Paranella's dream.
Then we went inside and we all got wristbands to wear and went to find our tour guide to start the tour. If you have a Companion Card you can buy your ticket and then take someone along to help you for free.
Jose Paronella loved the rainforest and the big waterfall and swimming hole on the property and he let everyone in the community come along to swim there. He planted over 7000 trees, including lots of Kauri pines in a row, which he called Kauri Avenue and it leads straight to the waterfall.
We did a very good tour around Paranella Park with a nice lady named Mai during the day and at night we did another tour with a lady named Mandy, who was very funny. They told us all about the history of Jose and his family and showed us lots of great things. I really liked looking at the old buildings and seeing the waterfall and the suspension bridge. It was very wobbly but fun to walk on. It was a little bit scary to walk on but I held onto the rails at the start which made me feel safer.
There is a very long staircase to walk down on the tour too but if you need help or it is too difficult for you then you can go up or down in a vehicle. Mum held my hand when we walked down it because it was very steep. I felt better walking up the steps because it was easier.
I really liked seeing the big waterfall at the bottom of the staircase. It had lots of water flowing down and it sounded very loud but nice to hear the water.
They have tours all day and special tours at night too and they are very interesting. At night it was great to see the buildings with lots of colourful lights shining on them and at the tennis court area we got to sit down and listen to some nice songs and watch the light show. It was a great experience to be there in the rainforest at night. They let us all use a torch on the night tour so we could see where we were going and not trip over.
There were lots of seats around that you can sit on if you get tired while you are on the tour and there are handrails to use for walking up the steep areas of the paths.
When we got our tickets the lady was very helpful and told us all about the tour and gave us some fish food to feed the fish and turtles and it was great fun to do. I really liked the turtles and I had never fed turtles before.
There is a shop and cafe and an eating area as well as very nice, clean toilets to use near the front entrance. They sell ice-creams, drinks, some food and souvenirs.
The staff were very friendly and nice and organised our tour and our booking for dinner at the Mena Creek Hotel so we could eat and then come back for the night tour and light show. They gave us a map of the park with some information about the history and a book about the plants and animals we could see.
Another great thing is that your ticket entry means you are allowed to go back again anytime you like for the next two years. That is really good because we enjoyed it a lot and we are glad we can go another day and enjoy looking around again.
There is a great Paronella Park App you can download for free and it tells you about the history of the park and all about the Flora & Fauna, as well as having a map to check out and information about the experiences you can do. If it it raining they have umbrellas you can use and you get fish food included in the price of the entry. At the end of the night tour we all got an awesome gift to take home. It was a piece of the castle that fell down in Cyclone Larry in 2006 in a special bag with the message that this piece of the castle can remind you to follow your dreams like Jose did. I really like it.
in between the day and night tours we visited Mamu Tropical Skywalk and then went back and had dinner at the Mena Creek hotel. I had the roast of the day and it was very delicious. After dinner we went back to do the nighttime tour at Paronella Park.
We drove home to Cairns after we visited, which took about an hour and a half but there is a caravan park next door at Paronella Park that you can stay in if you have a caravan or there are some cabins for two people. If you don't have a caravan and you don't want to drive home after the night show there is accommodation nearby at the Mena Creek Flowerhouse B & B or at the Mena Creek Hotel.
I really liked visiting Paronella Park and so did my family. The best part about it was the night tour seeing all the lights shining on the buildings in the rainforest.
Tips from my travelling companion -
Paronella Park was a lovely place to visit! It was wonderful to learn so much of Jose Paronella's history and that of his family and the subsequent owners of this beautiful piece of North Queensland. The story of Jose's vision and how he made it come to fruition is remarkable and a real life dream come true! It was fantastic to meet Mark Evans, who along with his wife, Judy bought this property nearly 30 years ago and have devoted so much time and effort into restoring and care-taking the property so it will be here for others to enjoy for many years to come. Mark greeted us at the entrance of the park and was also there to talk to the group before the night tour started to thank us for our interest in visiting the park. We can easily see why this lovely tourist attraction has won various awards over the years including the People's choice award for the best tourist attraction in 2021 and the Gold Tourist attraction award for Queensland Tourism, as well as the Best Grey Nomad Attraction and the Best Grey Nomad Historic Attraction Silver, and the TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice Award in their Top 10% of Attractions Worldwide.
The paths around the park were easy to walk on and there were several places with handrails and seats to sit on if you need a rest. The grand staircase is quite steep but there is access to the bottom level via a vehicle if you need it.
The toilets were extremely clean and modern and the cafe area was very nice with a good assortment of food and drinks on offer if you are hungry. There was also ample car parking and even an electric car charging station powered by the hydro electric system Jose used in the past, that has been restored recently, and is still in use today.
The staff were extremely friendly and professional and did a great job retelling the story of Paronella Park in an informative and entertaining way. They were keen to answer questions and help in any way they could.
The Interactive App is a great tool to use to gain information about the park and listen to if you prefer or miss the guided tour. It also has the map of the park and the information about the Flora and Fauna as well.
If you have your own vehicle it is an easy hour and a half drive from Cairns to Paronella Park and we highly recommend the visit as well as combining it with their other property, Mamu Tropical Skywalk, where you can explore the beautiful rainforest canopy. Be sure to read about Flynn' s experiences there on his separate blog post. We would highly recommend these wonderful tourist attractions to others!
We would like to thank Paronella Park for the opportunity to visit this wonderful tourist attraction as their guests, so that Flynn and our family could experience the magic of this rainforest adventure. Our reviews are soley based on the experience we had on our visit and were in no way influenced by any outside sources.