The Magical Paronella Park in the tropical jungle of Australia

Paul Pinkerton
Magical Paronella Park

Paronella Park was built in the 1930s by José Paronella and is located at Mena Creek, Queensland, Australia, 120 kilometers south of Cairns.

This magical place was filled with tennis courts, a cinema, bridges, a tunnel, and a ballroom inspired by Spanish castle in order to provide entertainment for the public. Since Paronella’s death, there has been a fire, a cyclone, and several floods which have badly damaged the park and the buildings.


Paronella Park was built in the 1930s by José Paronella. Photo Credit


Paronella’s castle at the park. Photo Credit

Paronella was a Spanish immigrant who arrived in Australia in 1913 from Catalonia to plan a splendid life for himself and his fiancée Matilda.


His full name was José Pedro Enrique Paronella and he was born on 26 February 1887 in a hamlet in the province of Gerona, north-eastern Catalonia. For eleven years, Paronella built up his wealth by buying, improving, and selling cane farms.


Paronella Park from the top of Mena Creek Falls Innisfail c 1935.

He had a dream to build this park and he found the perfect place while traveling through the amazing countryside. He discovered a magnificent virgin forest alongside spectacular Mena Creek Falls. In 1929, Paronella purchased the land of his dreams.

The grand 47-step staircase was constructed to shift building materials between the lower and upper levels. Paronella married Matilda’s sister after he found out that his fiancée was seeing another man.

The couple had their cottage hand built of stone in the park and moved in on Christmas Eve.


In 1933, Paronella installed a hydro-electric plant, the first (privately owned) in Queensland, on the waterfall in the park. Photo Credit


Surrounding their home and castle, more than 7000 trees were planted. Photo Credit

Inspired by Catalan castles, Paronella’s goal was to design and build an entertainment area. The fingerprints of him and his workers remain in the cement as a testament to their extraordinary effort.


More than 7,000 tropical plants and trees were planted surrounding their home and castle including an avenue of Kauris.

North Queensland’s first hydroelectric plant was built in 1933 to power the 13-acre park, and in 1935 the castle grounds were opened to the public.

The Paronellas invited everyone to movies on Saturday nights, built a pavilion with turret-topped balconies, a lot of refreshment rooms, and eventually a museum featuring a collection of pistols, timbers, coins, and interesting keepsakes.


The Movie The Impossible Dream is based on the true story of José and his bride Margarita. Photo Credit

Today, visitors are taken on a range of guided tours. The story is told and the highlights of the Park shown through the day and into the night. Photo Credit

When Paronella died in 1948, he left his paradise to his wife and his two children, Teresa and Joe. After Joe’s death in 1972, his wife and his two sons continued until the park was sold in 1977.

A fire swept through the castle in 1979, leaving only the walls and the turret as a reminder of what had been. In 2004, Paronella Park was named Queensland’s premier significant attraction by the Queensland Tourism Board.

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