Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Paronella Park - One Man's Dream Come True

Entry to Paronella Park
South of Innisfail along the Canecutter Way and a few hundred metres north of Mena Creek is the delightful Paronella Park

Not just any park, Paronella is named after it's creator, Jose Paronella, a Spaniard who immigrated to Innisfail in 1913. In the years after his arrival, he became wealthy enough to build his own dream park. Complete with tennis courts, a dance hall, his castle, bridges, tunnels, a variety of trees and plants, capped off with a hydro-electric generating plant that beavered away under his Mena Creek Falls. And it still provides electricity for the park today.

Christina and the Kauri
Paronella was not only a visionary, but he worked tirelessly for years building his dream, mostly with his bare hands.  Today, unfortunately, most of the buildings have deteriorated, but the many trees, including a lovely walkway of kauri, stand strong and provide a testament to his vision.

We had been to Petronella Park years ago, but decided to visit again while in the area. To our surprise, the owners, Mark and Judy Evans provide free overnight caravan and camping accommodation for those who pay an entrance fee, which we did.

Lake from bridge
Everyone who pays the entrance fee also gets a free entry card valid for two years, handy for people living locally who wish to revisit for an invigorating weekend walk, or to show their visitors the sights.

Suspension bridge
If you love nature, you'll love Paronella Park. We did a night tour with a lovely lady who showed us some of the best views during a 45 minute tour. In the morning we moved our caravan to a parking spot at nearby Mena Creek and walked back over a suspension bridge that joins a very pleasant public park on the south side of Mena Creek with Paronella.  We walked for several hours the following day taking in the waterfalls, buildings, Kauri Avenue (see photo), Teresa Falls and Mena Creek Falls, Jose's tunnel, the forest trail and bamboo walks, and finished it off with a nice cup of coffee at the deck inside the entrance.

In the creek we saw numerous turtles and dozens of fish and eels, many of which came to the waters edge at feeding time to fight for their share of the spoils. The eels are large and there were at least three varieties of fish, although I can't recall what types.

We even saw a few common scrub turkeys.

Paronella Park was a stopover worth making and a great opportunity to get some of our daily steps in while communing with nature and Jose's dream. If you are in the area and have a day to spare, you really must visit Paronella Park.


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