I was about 12 when I was first taken to Paronella Park by my parents on a family holiday to North Queensland. It’s one of those mystical, magical places that takes you back in time. Think The Secret Garden mixed with a little Jane Austin (in particular Mr Darcy). It’s a place I will never forget. The magical moss covered stones of this gorgeous park could be mistaken for a medieval castle and grounds. However, whilst the very real love story behind the castle goes hand in hand with turrets and balconies, the structures themselves are relatively new.
History has it that José Paronella fell madly in love with Matilda and proposed to her in his home country of Spain. He sailed across turbulent seas to Australia, where he worked hard for 11 years, buying and selling farms to build his wealth. Upon returning to Spain to collect his soon to be bride, wait for it… his one and only Matilda had married another! ‘How could she?’ I hear you ask! Well, more fool Matilda. José promptly marrier Matilda’s sister, Margarita, in 1925 and together they moved to Australia.
In 1929, the couple purchased land now known as Paronella Park and started on building pleasure gardens and a reception centre to be enjoyed by the public. The grand staircase, the oldest structure at Paronella Park, was built to facilitate the transportation of sand to make the concrete for the structures within the park. With this sand, they built the breathtaking castle that still stands today.
The park itself is truly magical. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, waterfalls and creeks, one can sit at the moss covered tables in The Lower Tea Gardens which surround the pool to admire the sound of the waterfall or explore Love Tunnel (it’s pitch black. And the roof is covered in bats. And spiders), the old change rooms or take a stroll around the walkways and ponds.
This stunning park has been wiped out by floods, cyclones and fire but still stands strong. These occurrences only add to the charms and mystical atmosphere that is Paronella Park.
Since my initial discovery as a child, I have returned to Paronella Park a further two times as an adult and the magic never ceases. Whether you take a packed lunch and eat next to the falls with friends, take a walk through the castle grounds whilst holding your lovers hand, or explore the park by night (strategically placed flood lighting around the park make this a photographers dream!) and stay at the caravan and camping grounds, Paronella Park will is a must see on your North Queensland holiday.
More information is available at the Paronella Park website.