Deep in the heart of the rainforest near Cairns lies a real Spanish castle. Paronella Park was the brainchild of José Paronella, who – with dreams of building a castle and leisure gardens for the community to enjoy – began building his castle in the 1930s.
Paronella Park has undergone many constructions and reconstructions. Parts of the park have been destroyed by no less than three cyclones, a fire, and floods since José Paronella completed his park, but it has bounced back to relive its former glory. The park has won multiple awards for ecotourism, and is one of the most popular attractions around Cairns.
Visiting Paronella Park today shows off the many original and restored features of José Paronella’s dream. Extensive tropical garden, picnic areas, tennis courts, a cinema, a ballroom and more are on show, including more modern additions such as a museum. There are over five hectares of gardens in which visitors can picnic, a café offering local produce and even camping grounds.
Paronella Park is located 120km south of Cairns at Mena Creek. The park is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9am-7:30pm. Entry is $42 for adults and $21 for children up to the age of 15, though family deals are available. On arrival, visitors are taken on a complimentary, 45-minute storytelling tour that details the history of the park.