Paronella Park

A labour of love for Spaniard Jose Paronella, he opened his fantastical park by Mena Creek Falls in 1935 as a tourist attraction. After multiple fires, floods, and cyclones mainly only ruins remain, but they are evocative, and the park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Queensland.

Mena Creek Falls are rather pleasant, with a bridge running along the top of them.

The Castle once had a grand ballroom attached, complete with gold leaf and an apparently amazing mirror ball, but now little remains other than the concrete structure.

The Lower Refreshment Rooms are the iconic face of the park, now looking like an ancient Anzac temple, though the gravity fed fountains continue to work.

The tunnel was planned as an aquarium but it flooded and all the fish were washed away. It is now home to around 500 tiny bats.

The bamboo forest was fun to wander through.

The Cottage Museum is the house where Jose and his family lived, now filled with photos and memorabilia.

A final surprise was the avenue of 80 year old kauri trees. I thought they were native to New Zealand but ended up seeing quite a few on my travels in northern Queensland.

Completely unrelated but on my way to Paronella Park from Cairns I briefly stopped at Guru Nanak Sikh Mission Temple, a striking sight directly off the main road.

Closer to Paronella Park is the hundred year old South Johnstone sugar mill, processing sugarcane from the fields around, aided by a narrow gauge railway.

Author: jontycrane

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