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Paronella Park - North Queensland Australia

Updated on February 6, 2015

Paronella Park - Tourist Attraction North Queensland

The origins of Paronella Park date back to the late 1920’s when a Spanish Immigrant named Jose Paronella arrived in the area and took up work as a farm hand in the Sugar Cane fields surrounding Innisfail.

Jose was extremely ambitious and after saving a great deal of money from purchasing, adding value, and selling Sugar Cane farms, he purchased 5 hectares of rainforest bordering the banks of Mena Creek.

Paronella Park - The Early Days

Jose always intended to return to Spain to wed his bride-to-be, however when he finally made it back to Spain after many years, he found that his family had thought that he had died, as they had not heard a single word from him.

Jose wife-to-be had long since married another man, so Jose chose her younger sister to be his bride and they travelled back to Australia to create his dream of building a Spanish Castle and Pleasure Gardens deep in the lush tropical rainforest of North Queensland.

Multi award winning attraction - Paronella Park, Queensland.
Multi award winning attraction - Paronella Park, Queensland.

History of Paronella Park

The early 1930’s saw Jose and his wife clearing the land and planting more than 7,000 trees which included the stunningly beautiful avenue of Kauri Pines. Jose also designed and built the first hydroelectric power station in Australia which supplied not only the park, but also the local community in nearby townships with electricity.

In its heyday, Paronella Park boasted picnic grounds, waterfall fed lake for public swimming, toilet facilities, changing rooms, ballroom, tea house, fountains, hydro-electric power, open air cinema, rainforest walks and a lovers lane tunnel.

After operating the park very successfully for many years, it was closed and left to the mercy of the encroaching tropical rainforest for decades. Finally in 1993, after 45 years, Paronella Park was rediscovered, reclaimed from the rainforest and reopened much to the delight of locals and tourists alike.

Paronella Park - Guided Tour
Paronella Park - Guided Tour
The Avenue of Kauri Pines
The Avenue of Kauri Pines

Paronella Park Today

It is now a multi award winning eco-friendly tourist attraction with unique Spanish castle ruins, tropical Australian rainforest, amazing wildlife, beautiful waterfalls, tranquil walks, guided tours, an indoor/outdoor cafe and much more.

Since Jose Paronellas death, there has been a fire on site, a cyclone which ripped through the region, and several devastating floods that have all resulted in severe damage to the park and its buildings. Each time it has been brought back from the brink and even today it remains a testament of the love that Jose Paronella had for his family and his adopted country.

A quiet place for contemplation.
A quiet place for contemplation.

Building Paronella Park

Jose's passion, resourcefulness and dedication was immense. He built his early ‘theme park’ through sheer hard work. All the concrete for the buildings was mixed by hand and he recycled disused train tracks from his sugar cane farms as reinforcement for the buildings.

Sadly, without realising it, the water that Jose used to mix the concrete contained minerals that attacked the reinforcing iron that he used, and eventually caused ‘concrete cancer’. (A condition where the concrete separates off the reinforcing iron as it rusts from the inside)

Ironically over the years, this has given much of the park a unique appearance which would otherwise not exist. It is fascinating to walk through the ruins which are largely intact but crumbling in parts, adding a quaint historic value to the picturesque surroundings.

The Grand Staircase (flood levels are marked on steps).
The Grand Staircase (flood levels are marked on steps).

When to visit Paronella Park

Paronella Park is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day. There is also a caravan park alongside for the convenience of caravanners and campers. There are also limited cabins available. The park offers both day and night visits. One ticket allows entry for both times. Highly recommended!

Mena Creek Waterfall with swing bridge leading to picnic area.
Mena Creek Waterfall with swing bridge leading to picnic area.

Paronella Park Gift Shop

Rainbow shot glasses are one of many beautiful gifts and mementos available from the Paronella Park gift shop.
Rainbow shot glasses are one of many beautiful gifts and mementos available from the Paronella Park gift shop. | Source

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