ROAD TRIP DIARIES 23
“Once upon a time, in a land far, far away stood a Spanish Castillo nestled amongst the enchanted forest. The Castle was grand, simply the grandest Castle in all the land. Visitors came from far and wide, travelling the countryside in horse drawn carts to experience the opulence of the Spanish Castle and surrounding forest. Merry was made; guests drank and ate, danced and swam, even fell in love in the enchanted gardens, the Tunnel of Love and magnificent Castle. This was Paronella Park”
Many years have passed and the once magnificent castle is now a treasured ruin in the midst of lush tropical rainforest. After several days of adventures on the road, the two intrepid travellers from the far East found themselves at the gateway of this Spanish Castillo.
Beset by curiosity, they wandered around the garden pondering on what to do next. They needed a place to spend the night and it meant they would have to continue on with their journey before darkness fell.
Fortunately, the amiable guardian of the castle had been observing the weary travellers and had noticed the bewildered look on their faces. He offered them both the chance to be transported back in another place and time and a respite for the night with a sizeable discount that they could not refuse.
The guardian of the castle turned out to be the present owner of the park and together with his other half, they had restored the unique ruins of the castle and other structures of yesteryear with the legacy of continuing the dream that Jose Paronella started.
The Dream Continues Tour
Bemused by the good fortune that landed at their feet, the two travellers graciously accepted the offer and earnestly enlisted themselves with the next batch of visitors on the guided tour. They learned about the humble beginnings of Jose Paronella and the remarkable story of how his dream to build this castle came true.
Jose Paronella single-handedly built the Spanish Castle from stone and designed his own pleasure garden with the intention of sharing it with the public by showing movies and throwing in lavish parties for the guests. Amazingly he also single-handedly built the first hydro-electric power scheme in Australia using the water pressure from Mena Creek waterfall. Paronella Park was one of the first eco-friendly tourist attractions in Australia and was listed under National Trust.
The Spanish Castle Ruin
Mena Creek Waterfall
Self-Guided Botanical Walk
After a bit of rest in between the tour, the two travellers decided to explore the nature park on their own. They went back to the ruins and walked through a series of winding paths and bridges. Armed with a complimentary map, they wound through the dense tropical foliage, hand fed the turtles near the bamboo forest and and marvelled at the exotic gardens at Lover’s Lane.
They were impressed by the ingenuity and dedication of Jose Paronella and how he had managed to create secretive vistas around the park leading to Mena Creek waterfall.
Darkness Falls Tour
As darkness descended on Paronella Park, the ruins gleamed with soft light and the park transformed into a magical place from another time. Together with the other guests, the two travellers eagerly waited for their usher to reveal the secrets and the nocturnal dwellers of the park.
The usher led them into a long cavernous tunnel that led onto the cascading waters of Teresa Falls, named after Jose Paronella’s beloved daughter. Armed with torches they trudged into the mysterious Tunnel of Love and were taken aback by the colonies of micro-bats nesting on its roof. It was a delightful experience for most but a tad creepy for some.
Colonies of micro-bats at the Tunnel of Love
Mena Creek Falls at night
After the usher bid his farewell and the last of the visitors had left, the two travellers lingered more by the falls and strolled through the moonlit pleasure garden. They found it to be even more mysterious and quite eerie. But as a chilling silence enveloped the surroundings with occasional calls of the nocturnal natives in between, the girl, who was rather superstitious suggested they head back to their quarters.
They continued on with their adventures on the road the next day with fresh memories of someone else’s romantic dream that had come true.
And ummh, they are still living happily ever after….The End.
(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series, which took place July- August 2010)
Australian Road Trip 101: A Vantastic Beginning
Road Trip Diaries # 1 – An Encounter with the Strangest Animal in the World
Road Trip Diaries # 2 – Of Strangler Figs, Leeches and Long Holidays
Road Trip Diaries # 3 - Exploring Finch Hatton Gorge
Road Trip Diaries # 4 – Cape Hillsborough: On Bush Walks Beach Strolls and Star Gazing
Road Trip Diaries # 5 – Cape Hillsborough: Sunrise and Wild Kangaroos
Road Trip Diaries # 6 – Airlie Beach: Beaches Babes and Backpackers
Road Trip Diaries # 7 – Ocean Rafting to the Whitsundays
Road Trip Diaries # 8 – Unexpected Encounters
Road Trip Diaries # 9 – Exploring Bowenwood
Road Trip Diaries # 10 – Townsville: Finding Nemo and the Sunken Pandora
Road Trip Diaries # 11 – A Visit at the Billabong Sanctuary and Castle Hill
Road Trip Diaries # 12 – Magnetic Island: What Captain Cook Missed
Road Trip Diaries # 13 – Paluma Range National Park: A Walk in the Clouds
Road Trip Diaries # 14 – Of Didgeridoo, Exotic Fruits and Why I love Camping in the Bush
Road Trip Diaries # 15 – Jourama Falls: A Gray Nomad Affair
Road Trip Diarues # 16 – The Bird Man of Tyto Wetlands
Road Trip Diaries # 17 – The Quest for Wallaman Falls
Road Trip Diaries # 18 – Hinchinbrook Island: Experiencing the Wilderness
Road Trip Diaires # 19 – The Tully Show: My First Aussie Fair
Road Trip Diaries # 20 - Mission Beach: Where Have All the Cassowaries Gone?
Road Trip Diaries # 21 – White Water Rafting at Tully River
Road Trip Diaries # 22 – Finding Our Way to the Enchanted Ruins