Paronella Park From Port Douglas

Home » Paronella Park From Port Douglas

Content may contain affiliate links.

Paronella Park

Paronella Park is a tourist attraction in Far North Queensland, Australia. It was built as a home and pleasure park business at Mena Creek by a Spanish cane cutter back in the days when this part of the world was barely accessible. But what is Paronella Park? The Park holds ruins of a modern castle, a folly, plus pleasure gardens and pools. Is it worth visiting Paronella Park? We think it is, we really enjoyed the half day we spent here. Read this Paronella Park review and decide if this place is worth visiting for you. The story behind the park, its uniqueness in Australia and the history it holds make it a must-see. From Port Douglas it’s a long way, but if you have time, yes, you should go.

Paronella Park
Paronella Park

Paronella Park won TripAdvisor awards for being one of the most popular in Australia and the world. The photos don’t make it look that fantastic, but it really is a fascinating little gem of Australian history.

The park was constructed complete with a futuristic hydroelectric generating mechanism. The falls still still make power today. The waterfall tumbles into a pool, formerly used for swimming. The seating and picnic area around the pool are fairly intact, but flooding and tropical weather has caused some destruction. You’ll learn all about that on your tour of the park, with a guide. Don’t be tempted to skip the tour of the buildings and gardens, it’s fascinating.

Paronella Park
Paronella Park

Paronella Park From Port Douglas

Paronella Park is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Port Douglas. That’s “near” in Australia!

You can see Paronella Park in a day trip from Port Douglas, or you could stay overnight somewhere nearby. We chose to stay at Mission Beach for a weekend break and see more of the “Waterfall Circuit.”

The gardens at Paronella Park include this magnificent double row of kaurie trees, (Agathis australis) famous for their hollow echo when you tap them.
Inside Jose Paronella’s home at Paronella Park you will find a collection of museum items, portraits and memorabilia.

To drive to Paronella Park head south along the Captain Cook Highway (route 44) to Cairns, continue south to Innisfail on the A1. At Innisfail take the Innisfail Japoon Rd past Germantown to Mena Creek. There is a car park at Paronella Park.

Near Paronella Park you can visit Lake Barrine, The Curtain Fig Tree, and swim beneath the stunning natural waterfall at Millaa Milla Falls. Paronella Park is not far from Cairns, Ravenshoe, Tully or Mission Beach.

If you plan to rent a car for your Port Douglas holiday, try this car rental comparison tool to get an idea on costs.

Paronella Park Review

Paronella Park is a tourist attraction in Far North Queensland Australia. It’s easily accessible from the coast road and from the inland Tablelands routes along the east coast.

Paronella Park is not free to enter. The admission fee for adults is $55 Au, and Kids up to 15 years old pay $31. A family ticket for 4 people cost us $142 Au. These admission costs may change, so always check the park’s website for latest prices and special offers.

A guided tour of the park and gardens is included in the admission fee. You may have to wait a little while for the next tour to begin. Tours run roughly every 30 minutes. After dark the park and fountains are lit, and if you can stay in the park that long (or you’re camping on the campsite) your ticket covers you for the light show too. If you’re returning to Port Douglas the same day, you probably won’t have time to see this.

Paronella Park History

Jose Paronella built Paronella Park to be a home for his family, and a business. It was a pleasure park and he charged local people to visit. Guests could swim, enjoy the gardens and ice cream parlour and even enjoy shows and dancing in the ballroom.

Construction started in 1929 when Jose purchased his block of land. The park opened to the public some 6 years later, in 1935. Jose died in 1948.

It wasn’t until 1979 that the park closed to the public because of fire damage. Flooding and the weather caused further decay.

The park was rescued in 1983 when it was bought by its new owners. Their goal was to make Paronella Park a tourist destination once more, and they seem to have succeeded. They try to keep on top of maintenance and have a campsite next door.

The park has won multiple awards since it was re-opened.

Paronalla Park Gardens

Jose planted in the region of 7,000 trees here. The gardens have distinct zones. You can explore bamboo groves, tropical ferns, shade gardens, and palm trees. The park is rather like an arboretum or botanical gardens.

The gardens are huge and this is Tropical North Queensland, so everything is a little untidy and overgrown, but none the less fascinating.

Paronella Park Falls and Waterside

Mena Creek tumbles over the falls in Paronella Park forming a pretty swimming hole. Unfortunately the creek floods in some wet seasons and these floods have caused significant damage over the years.

The hydro electric system here was restored to functionality in 2009. It was the first such plant in Queensland and Jose commissioned it in 1933.

You can’t swim at Paronella Park today unfortunately, because there may or may not be crocodiles, but further downstream you can feed the fish and turtles. Pick up a bag of fish food at the admission desk.

Paronella Park Falls at Mena Creek are just one of many waterfalls you can see near Port Douglas

Paronella Park Buildings

Hose’s former home within the park is a cute little cottage in pretty good condition. Visitors can go inside to see various museum-type exhibits. Most of the other buildings in the park are in pretty bad condition, although you can still see the old wishing well next to the icecream parlour and the changing rooms for bathers.

Around the pool you will find benches and picnic facilities constructed from concrete, some repaired, some replicas, some crumbling. This crumbling is the result of an unfortunate concrete mix, alongside tropical conditions.

Where is Paronella Park Relative To Port Douglas?

Port Douglas is 170 Kilometers north of Paronella Park (105 miles) and the drive from Port will be about a two and a half hours depending on road and traffic conditions.

Paronella Park Opening Hours

Paronella Park’s opening hours can be found on their website, please check. Normally opening time is 9:00 am and closing time is 7:30 pm every day other than Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. These opening hours are subject to change, so you can check for current hours here.

We loved visiting Paronella Park and this whole short break. We took a two-day trip, staying one night at a beautiful beach cottage (below) at Mission Beach and visiting many natural and man-made attractions on the Atherton Tablelands. We’ll post more about these soon.

Best Time To Visit Paronella Park

It gets very hot and humid in this part of the world, so we’d suggest you visit the park in the cooler months. We visited in southern hemisphere spring (northern hemisphere autumn) and it was very, very hot.

Buy Paronella Park Admission Tickets Online

About the author
Alyson Long

Leave a comment