Paronella Park

Top choice in Townsville & Mission Beach

Set beside a series of creeks and waterfalls 50km northwest of Mission Beach (and with at least one resident croc), this unusual tropical park is a romantic, Dalí-esque escape from reality. Day trippers wander dreamily among its moss-covered steps, lush tropical foliage and huge palatial structures straight from some Victorian-Mayan movie set. Tours run every hour, starting at 9.30am and with the last at 4.30pm.

Self-made Spanish immigrant José Paronella built Paronella Park as a gift to his wife Margarita. He opened the incongruously sited property and pleasure gardens to a grateful public shortly after their construction. He died in 1948, and the park is now privately owned and National Trust–listed. The whole place is filled with magic and mystery.

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