Historical Site

Paronella Park: The Historical Site Hidden Amidst A Rainforest That You Have To Visit On Your Big Lap

by Rose Foster

An absolute must see on your Big Lap, Paronella Park will blow your socks off! You’ll find yourself lost in history and nature as you explore this park. You’ll see everything from an epic waterfall to old ruins to some of the tallest trees you’ve ever seen. Make sure you spend as much time as possible here – it’ll be worth it, we promise!

Plus, if you sign up to be a Livin’ Barry member with us, you’ll even get 10% off entry fees to the park! Make sure you head over to Livin’ Barry to sign up today and take advantage of this awesome offer to see one of the most amazing sights in Australia.

Related: Top 3 Rainforests In Queensland




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What You Need To Know Before Your Visit

Where Exactly Can You Find Paronella Park?

Paronella Park doesn’t exactly have the most obvious location – it’s definitely hidden away. Technically, it’s located in Mena Creek, which isn’t exactly very well known to anyone (unless you’re a local). That said, there are signs on the Bruce Highway that point it out. Coming from Cairns, the drive is about 120km south or if you’re coming from Townsville, it’s about 280km north.




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Where Can You Stay?

Now that you know where to find Paronella Park, you might be wondering where you can stay. Well, you’re actually in luck! Paronella Park has onsite accommodation options to suit everyone. If camping isn’t your style or you’re looking to splurge for a few nights, there are six cabins available at Paronella Park. There are also onsite campgrounds that are suitable for tents, camper trailers and caravans. But, be aware that onsite accommodation generally books out fast, so make sure you get in quick and have a few back-up options in case.

If you can’t get into any of the accommodation options at the park, don’t despair, because there are a bunch of other places to consider. Mena Creek Hotel is just 200m from Paronella Park and offers a range of room sizes for you to choose from, as well as free onsite parking.

Alternatively, for caravan parks, you can head a little further north to Innisfail. August Moon Caravan Park and Etty Bay Cabins & Caravan Park are just two options to consider – both are located in south Innisfail, so there won’t be too much of a drive to Paronella Park.

Related: 17 Free Camps You Need To Know About In Far North Queensland


One last piece of important information for you to keep in mind before you visit Paronella Park is the costs involved. While this shouldn’t affect your decision to go, because obviously it’s worth it in the end, you do still need to factor this in. Pricing for onsite accommodation varies depending on how long you’re staying and whether you’re visiting during peak periods – so keep this in mind when you’re planning your trip. 

As for the tickets to the park, they cost $50 for adults, and $28 for children aged 5-15. These tickets give you access to the whole park for as long as you choose to stay. And remember, if you sign up to be a Livin’ Barry member, you’ll get 10% off your ticket, bringing the price down to $45 (for an adult ticket).

History Of The Park

Humble Beginnings

Paronella Park is the product of the vision of a Spanish man by the name of Jose Paronella. He arrived in Australia from Catalonia in 1913 initially working on sugar cane farms. After returning to Spain to marry Margarita, the newlyweds returned to Australia in 1925 for their honeymoon. It was during this second trip that Jose made the choice to purchase the land in Mena Creek that he’d seen last time he was in Australia. He wanted to build something that could provide entertainment to his guests and the public, and so, the construction of the park began.

Jose’s first job was to construct the “Grand Staircase” to facilitate easier transportation of building materials between the lower and upper levels. Jose and Margarita then had a cottage hand-built from stone, which later became their new home. They then set to work constructing the entertainment area – a ballroom that became a movie theatre on the weekends.




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Opening Of The Park

A hydro electric plant was also installed to power the whole park. From 1935, the park opened to the public with Jose and Margarita welcoming guests to play tennis, watch movies and dance the night away at the ballroom.

From Jose’s Death To The Present

After Jose’s death in 1948, his son and daughter continued their father’s dream, despite how natural disasters caused damage to multiple structures in the park. By 1993, the park was purchased by the current owners, who set to work repairing the park to reopen it to the public and restore Jose’s dream.




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Things To Do At The Park

So now you’ve heard about the fascinating story behind the park’s origins, let’s highlight what you definitely need to check out while you’re there.

What To See

  • The Grand Staircase
  • Jose and Margarita’s cottage
  • The ballroom/ movie theatre
  • The castle
  • The old toilet block

These are just some of the old ruins you will see that have been restored and remain open to the public. While you cannot properly see the hydro electric plant, it has also been restored and the park now runs entirely off the power produced by it. There are also stunning views of the Mena Creek waterfall and the opportunity to feed the eels swimming about in the creek.




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All the guides at Paronella Park are known for being incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the park. Tours run regularly, usually for about 30 minutes. The guides ensure to take you to all the best parts of the park all while giving visitors in-depth information about each of the structures and their history. It’s definitely worthwhile to take a tour! Plus, once it has concluded, you’re left with all the time in the world to continue exploring the park at your own pace.

Related: 8 Incredible Cairns & Tablelands Experiences To Have On Your Big Lap

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