Boyfriend and I often visit parks on our travels. Botanical gardens, city parks… We like places where we can go for a stroll while also having something to look at. They can be a bit hit or miss, though, and when we visited Queensland in Australia, I didn't know if Paronella Park would live up to its raving reviews.
I'm now happy to say that it did.
- Visiting Paronella Park
- Paronella Park prices and practical information
- Paronella Park accommodation
- How to get to Paronella Park
- Don't forget travel insurance
Visiting Paronella Park
Paronella Park history
Paronella Park was founded by José Paronella, who came to Queensland in 1913 to work as a sugar cane cutter. He worked his way up in this industry and fell in love with the region. So much so, that he purchased a piece of land there in 1929.
Paronella never planned it to be a private property. Instead, he turned the land into a park to be enjoyed by everyone. It had a reception area, a castle, his own home, a theater, refreshment rooms, and a museum.
Outside, guests could enjoy the tea garden and swimming, play tennis, or stroll along the many paths of the park. There was even a playground for children.
Paronella Park is located right next to Mena Creek Falls in Mena Creek. Paronella had this waterfall replicated for his daughter Teresa. It suffered quite some blows over time, mostly because of storms and floods, and was even closed for a while.
The current owners, Mark and Judy Evans, bought the park in 1993 and have since worked hard to give it back some of its former glory and share its magic with visitors.
Visiting the park
When you visit Paronella Park, you can walk around freely but you also have the option of taking a few free tours. The Paronella Park Day Tour gives you background information about the park, its different buildings, and its founder Jose Paronella.
On the Paronella Park night tour, a guide takes you to places in the park that are lit up especially for the tour while sharing all kinds of quirky facts and stories. You could say that in terms of the information you get, the night tour is an add-on to the daytime tour.
And of course, it is quite magical to see the old stone buildings lit up against the night sky.
Quite recently, a special closing act has been added to the Paronella night tour. At the end of the tour, the multi-award winning quartet The String Family (mother, daughter, son, and father) give a short concert at the Paronella castle.
If the sounds of their instruments don't give you goosebumps, the voice of the mother singing definitely will.
To add to the emotion, everyone gets a little present at the end of the night tour: a piece of stone that broke off from the Paronella Park castle during Cyclone Larry in 2006, accompanied by the reminder to follow our dreams, just like José Paronella did, and the hope that just like his, our dreams may come true.
I still have that piece of stone.
We arrived at Paronella Park for the night tour and then roamed the park freely by ourselves the next morning. If you want to get all the information, the staff at the park recommended to do the daytime tour first and then the night tour after.
If you'd still like more information, you can also take a tour of the on-site hydroelectric plant. This is also free but you do need to sign up for it beforehand.
The daytime tour runs daily every half hour, starting at 9.30 a.m. with the last one departing at 4.30 p.m. The tours last about 45 minutes.
The nighttime tour runs daily as well, sometimes only at 6.15 p.m. and sometimes at 6.15 p.m. and then again at 8 p.m. It lasts about 45 minutes to one hour, the concert included.
The Hydro tour runs daily at a specific time, which the staff will share with you upon your arrival. It's necessary to reserve your spot for this tour if you want to do it.
Paronella Park prices and practical information
Paronella Park opening hours and days
Paronella Park is open all-year-round from 9 a.m. until before the night tour starts, as everybody who doesn't go on the tour, needs to be out of the park. On the website, it says that the park closes at 7.30 p.m. but we got our information from the staff at the park when we visited.
The only day of the year that Paronella Park is closed, is on Christmas day.
Paronella Park entry fee
The Paronella Park entrance fee is 47 AUD for adults. Several discounts are available.
You might think that price seems a bit high to visit a park, but take into account that this includes:
- three tours you can go on
- a Paronella Park map with information
- a 16-page self-guided botanical walk through the park
- a free night at the on-site campsite (more on that below)
- fish food to feed the fish in the creek
- umbrella rental when necessary
- use of a courtesy vehicle when necessary
- entrance to the museum with historical photos
And if that's not enough, your ticket also allows you to come back for free within two years of your first visit. All you have to do is get the pass that proves you've been there when you leave the park and you're good to come back.
If you do come back within two years and bring someone who hasn't been to the park yet, another two years is added to your pass. I think that's really cool.
Plus, if you know how much effort the organization puts into maintaining and restoring this park, I think the Paronella Park admission fee is definitely worth it.
Paronella Park accommodation
The Paronella Park camping
As I mentioned, you get one night for free at the Paronella Park camping area when you've bought your entry ticket. Motorhomes, caravans, campervans, and tents are all welcome.
We spent a night there and were pleasantly surprised by the facilities. We thought it would just be a patch of land with spots for every RV, but there were clean shower and toilet facilities as well as an outdoor kitchen area.
The campsite is right next to the park as well, although they've now also opened a second site across the street because the first one became so popular. After having done the night tour, we could just walk out of the park onto the campsite. It was great that we didn't have to drive anymore.
Recently, Paronella Park has also opened its own six cabins for rent. These are available for 98 AUD per night and sleep two people each.
The cabins are equipped with linen, towels, a fridge, a kettle, a television, and air conditioning.
If you're not traveling in an RV, you can still stay nearby. Practically across the road from Paronella Park, lies the Mena Creek Hotel, which also has a relaxed country-style pub. All rooms have air conditioning while bathroom facilities are shared.
Other accommodation near Paronella Park
Less than 10 minutes driving away, you can also find the following hotels:
Mena Creek Flower House
The Mena Creek Flower House offers two self-contained and air-conditioned cabins on a tropical farm. Guests can enjoy the complimentary breakfast and roam the grounds of the property, which include a private swimming hole, a river, tropical rainforest and tropical fruit trees.
Tropical Bliss B&B
Tropical Bliss Bed and Breakfast offers rooms in a chalet with fully-equipped kitchen, bathroom, and an outdoor barbecue area. These facilities are shared by all guests. WiFi is free throughout the property and guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast.
If you're looking for more apartment options, check out Airbnb. While I use Booking for hotels, I always check Airbnb for apartments as they have such a large selection.
If you'd like to try Airbnb but don't have an account yet, I can give you a discount on your first booking if you book through my link. This doesn't cost you anything.
If you already have an account and found this post helpful, please consider booking your next Airbnb through my link. I'll earn a small commission while the price for you stays exactly the same. Income like this helps me travel independently and create new content.
The closest bigger town is Innisfail, a 15-minute drive away.
How to get to Paronella Park
You can easily drive to Paronella Park. The roads in north Queensland aren't busy and there's a parking lot right by the park.
From Cairns to Paronella park, it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes by car.
From Townsville to Paronella Park, it takes about 3 hours.
Paronella Park tours from Cairns
The Paronella Park, Skywalk & Waterfall Tour + Dinner is a full-day tour that picks you up at your hotel in Cairns and then takes you to the beautiful Josephine Falls, where you'll have the chance to go for a swim.
Next, you'll visit the MaMu Tropical Skywalk, which offers insight into the region and its original inhabitants as well as amazing view from a 37m-high watchtower.
Lastly, you'll be able to explore Paronella Park and join one of their famous night-time tours, seeing several of its iconic buildings lit up. You'll end the day with a lovely dinner just across the road from the park before being taken back from Paronella Park to Cairns.
Don't forget travel insurance
No matter how well you plan your trip to Australia, there's always something that can happen that's beyond your control. A reservation gets canceled, your luggage gets lost or you drop and break that new action camera. In all of these cases, good travel insurance has you covered.
I've had ongoing travel insurance ever since I started traveling to make sure I'm covered for every trip I go on but if you travel just a few times a year, you can get insured for each trip separately too.
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PIN FOR LATER
We were given entry tickets to Paronella Park for review purposes.