Paronella Park the Castle in the Rainforest
Tucked away in the rainforest beside Mena Creek Falls, discover the magical Paronella Park.
The Spanish Castle in the Rainforest
Spread over 5 Hectares, Jose Paronella began constructing his labour of love in the early 1930s.
He built a castle, grand ballroom, tennis court, refreshment rooms, grand staircase, and even a working hydroelectric plant with his own two hands.
He planted 7,500 tropical plants and trees to surround his masterpiece. Now the Spanish Castle is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest.
Jose Paronella arrived in Australia from Spain in 1913.
He spent his first eleven years working in the local sugar cane fields.
Eventually, he returned to Spain to marry Margarita. After they arrived back in Australia in 1929, Jose purchased the land.
The Grand Staircase was the first structure to be built. Carrying river sand to make the concrete was a vital function.
After creating a cottage, Jose started work on the castle.
And so, the construction continued until the park opened up to the public in 1935.
One of the most popular areas was the Grand Ballroom. On Saturday nights, it would turn into a movie theatre.
The hall was a favourite venue for dances and parties, with a giant mirror ball covered with 1270 tiny mirrors suspended from the ceiling.
Every corner you turn in Paronella Park, there’s something new to discover.
From the tunnel with its stonework balconies to a hidden waterfall, tennis courts, a pool, and a picnic area, the list goes on and on.
And to think it was all hand-made by Jose makes you marvel at the impressive castle and grounds of Paronella Park.
Paronella Park has become a haven for birds and butterflies, including a couple of North Queensland’s favourites, the Ulysses Butterfly and Cairns Birdwing butterfly.
More Fun things to do in Cairns
Paronella Park by Day
On arrival, you will be taken on a 45-minute tour of the grounds to get you started. Then you have as long as you like to wander around. You will have many fabulous photo opportunities. Be impressed by the remarkable architecture. Learn all about the history in the museum. Wander through 5ha of tropical gardens. Visit the fully restored 1930s hydroelectric generator. Enjoy the local wildlife, feed the fish and eels.
Paronella Park by Night
In the evening, you can join The Darkness Falls Tour, included in your entry fee. Paronella Park comes alive at night when all the structures are glowing from the floodlighting. There will be spectacular photo opportunities on this tour.
- Souvenir Guide Book/Map
- Fish food to feed the fish and eels.
- Umbrellas to explore the park if raining.
- A 35 minute guided walk of the park. Your guide will point out the highlights and tell you the amazing story of Jose Paronella and his dream. These frequently depart throughout the day.
- The Darkness Falls Tour. Unlock the secrets of Paronella Park at night. A 1-hour tour, departing at 6:15 pm every night.
- The Hydro Tour. Learn about North Queensland’s first river-driven hydroelectric generator. It has been restored and provides power to the entire park.
- Botanical Walk. 16-page self-guiding booklet and map.
Driving from Cairns (120 km)
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 Bruce Highway.
Driving from Atherton Tablelands (106 km)
When driving from the Tablelands, go down the Palmerston Highway. Turn right at the bottom of the hill onto Japoon Road. Follow the signage to Paronella Park.
- The park is set on two levels, joined by a 47 step staircase. There is a courtesy vehicle available for guests to use if they can not use the stairs. It is a 4WD vehicle, so the guests will need to get in and out of the car.
- If visiting with a pram or stroller, we advise you to bring a carrier. If you do bring a pram, it’s better to have one with larger wheels.
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