Writer, adventurer and wrangler to little people and pets. Follow me on Instagram @whereiholiday.
Published December 13th 2012
The Dream Continues
Australian has several well know "big" tourist attractions- the Big Pineapple, the Big Banana and even the Big Prawn. But have your heard about the Big Dream? You will have to venture to Mena Creek, just south of Innisfail in Far North Queensland to find it and you will not be disappointed.
Paronella Park was the dream of Jose Paronella, a Spanish immigrant who originally arrived in Australia in 1913. He purchased the land at Mena Creek in 1929 and began to build his dream castle.
Paronella Park has a rich and somewhat traumatic history. It has been the site of floods, fires and cyclones. The current owners, Mark and Judy Evans, purchased the park in 1993 and have spent the past 20 years and countless dollars preserving and restoring the park. I have had the pleasure of visiting the park several times and have been amazed by the passion and commitment of the Evans family and their staff. They have built the park into one of Australia's premier and award winning tourist destinations. They are recent winners in the Telstra Australian Business Awards and Paronella Park was voted the #1 Must Do attraction in the RACQ 150 Must Do list.
We last stopped in for a tour on a road trip from Cairns to Townsville with overseas guests. The skies opened in a torrential downpour moments before we drove into the Park. As we made our way to the front reception, we were enthusiastically greeted by a staff member with a big smile and several large umbrellas. We toured the park in the rain and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The park is packed with over 7,500 plants including huge Kauri trees and giant Bamboo. You can also feed the fish in the lake at the bottom of the waterfall.
Over the years Paronella Park has proved to be a popular venue for events and has a dedicated wedding planning service. Paronella Park offers both day and night tours. There is an onsite cafe offering light meals, Devonshire tea and refreshments. If you want to learn more about the history of the park there is also a book available called The Spanish Dreamer (The Biography of Jose Paronella).
Paronella Park is located in Mena Creek, approximately 120km south of Cairns. There are coach tour services that depart from Cairns. For all the details regarding tours and accommodation options, visit the Paronella Park website.