Everyone has a dream but not everyone’s dreams are fulfilled.
A pleasant one and a half hour’s drive south of Cairns lands you in a fairytale, with castles, bridges, tunnels, gardens and waterfalls, all wrapped up in a story of human triumph.
In the 1930s, a true visionary of North Queensland's pioneering heritage, Spaniard José Paronella, realised his dream by creating an incomparable wonderland set within the natural rainforests of Mena Creek. Now as one of Far North Queensland’s tourist attractions for over 80 years, Paronella Park gained Queensland Heritage listing in 1997, and has been presented with multiple tourism awards over the years, and is Eco accredited.
Paronella Park's five hectares of charming gardens continues to entertain and mesmerise generations of inquisitive visitors, just as José intended. The romantic tale of such a passionate man building his Park, complete with Grand Staircase, movie theatre and ballroom, in the North Queensland rainforest continues to entice people to the park; and the architecture and setting provide an amazing opportunity for professional and budding photographers.
For day visitors to Paronella Park, the 'Dream Continues' tour, runs every half an hour from 9:30am to 4:30pm, and retells the full and fascinating story of Jose Paronella and his dream. For those with an inquisitive mind, the 'Hydro System Tour' provides a close look at the technology that harnesses the force of the waterfall to power the whole park and adjacent caravan park.
Every evening, the 'Darkness Falls' tour features flood lighting of many of Paronella Park's highlights, courtesy of the restored hydro-electric generator. Depending on the time of year, you can spot fireflies, glowing mushrooms, nocturnal marsupials, or even the resident crocodile, Dundee.
Paronella Park has a café, serving fresh food; and tickets to the Park are valid for two years. So if you are planning on re-visiting this region, you can explore Paronella Park again free of charge.
This is truly one of Far North Queensland’s hidden treasures.
When driving from Cairns, be sure to head to Mena Creek; take the 'OLD' Bruce Highway after Innisfail rather than turning right and heading for Townsville along the newer section of the Bruce Highway.
When driving from Townsville, turn off the Bruce Highway at Silkwood and follow the Canecutter Way.
Check at the Visitor Centres along the way to get more directions if needed. If all else fails, give the friendly staff a call on (07) 4065 0000.