Paronella Park

Trip Start Nov 07, 2006
Trip End Jul 22, 2007

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

This place is only about 10 miles from Innisfail. The basic story is that a Spanish man named Jose Paronella made a fortune buying and selling sugar cane farms about 80 years ago. He planned to marry his fiancÚ back in Spain and bring her here to live. He discovered an area of rainforest next to a giant waterfall that he wanted to buy and build his perfect home. Upon returning back to Spain , after building up his wealth, he discovered his fiancÚ had married someone else and had a child. Not put off by this he married her younger sister instead and went back to Australia . In 1929 he bought the land next to the rainforest and went about building a house, a castle with adjacent ballroom, tennis courts, a grand 47 step staircase and a pavilion complete with two tennis courts. The place was opened to the public and it would be used for lavish weddings, ballroom dancing and a movie theater. He also installed in a hydro electric generator beneath the waterfall to provide electricity. All the buildings were handmade by Jose who was a baker by trade. In 1946 a flood destroyed many of the buildings and a vowing to rebuild Jose passed away in 1948.

Cyclones and fires have also taken turns destroying much of the buildings.

The park now is being refurbished and the buildings being repaired but it took a setback last year when Cyclone Larry again destroyed much of the ballroom.

They have also built a campsite at the back of the park that is included in the entrance fee so we could stay overnight. The day included four tours. One around the park, Aboriginal dancing, a bush tucker tour were the host tried to get us to eat some green ants but didn't stand a hope in hell and a night tour.

The night tour was one of the highlights of the day. They took us around on a guided tour at sunset with torches and when it was finished we were allowed to keep the torches and look around the park all night if we wanted. We saw some bats and for the first time ever fireflies. These are amazing and a just like flies with a flashing light. You can see them really easily in the rainforest and are like nothing else we had seen before.

Once the official tour had finished we went couldn't resist grabbing some wine and taking our own tour around the park. There wasn't anyone else around so it was really cool looking around old buildings in the middle of a rainforest that hadn't been lived in for the past 60 years! Pretty spooky too considering there was a full moon
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