Paronella Park the Castle in the Rainforest
Tucked away in the rainforest beside Mena Creek Falls, you’ll discover the magical Paronella Park. The Spanish Castle in the Rainforest. Spread over 5 Hectares, Jose Paronella began construction of his labour of love in the early 1930s. With his own two hands, he managed to build a castle, grand ballroom, tennis court, refreshment rooms, grand staircase and even a working hydroelectric plant. He planted 7,500 tropical plants and trees to surround his masterpiece. Which is now grown to be a lush tropical rainforest.
History of Paronella Park
Jose Paronella arrived in Australia from Spain in 1913. He spent the next 11 years working the sugar cane fields. Eventually, he returned to Spain to marry Margarita. When they came back to Australia, Jose purchased the land in 1929.
The Grand Staircase was the earliest structure to be built. Carrying river sand to make the concrete was a vital function. After creating a cottage to live in, 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 huge 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, picnic area – the list goes on and on. And to think it was all hand-made by Jose, really makes you marvel at this impressive castle and grounds.
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 45 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 depart frequently 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.
How to get there
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 be able 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.