The Things we do for Love

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October 22nd 2009
Published: October 23rd 2009
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The water fall by night
DAY 349

It had rained through the night at Babinda so waking up to a soggy morning was not our most favourite, still we cannot complain too much, being professional “Sun Chasers” we have not come across too much of this wet stuff for a long while.

I got out of the Wendy House, and put the kettle on, Caroline soon appeared and we sat, just enjoying the morning and the sun that was now shining.

Hats off to Babinda, we think it is fabulous, what an excellent, little town and what a great little campsite there is at the Boulders.

Though there are only six pitches, there is a beautifully clean toilet and cold shower (believe me sometimes you will take any shower that is given and if it is cold then that is fine), this morning a guy from the Babinda council appeared at 7.00am and washed the toilet block all through and emptied the rubbish bins provided.

There is a small plaque on the wall welcoming you to the Boulders camp ground, telling you that these facilities had been provided by the town of Babinda for you to enjoy. Even the grounds here
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The waterfall by day
are well looked after, the grass is cut and the gardens are tended beautifully, we even had two pineapples growing next to our tent.

Very well done Babinda, it is excellent, and lets hope everyone enjoys it and respects it as we have done.

We packed up and set off this morning, we were away by 9.15 I don’t know what happened being so early is unlike us, on the way to Innisfail we had to fill up with diesel at a cost of only $1.21 per litre which is not too bad considering some of the prices we have come across in the remote parts of Australia.

We only had a shortish journey this morning as we were heading to Paronella Park, which we have heard good things about, apparently it is Queenslands No. 1 must do, we have also seen it being used in an advertising campaign for Cairns Central Shopping Centre.

We find ourselves driving through sugar cane country again, the hills and mountains rolling out ahead of us, with huge expanses of sugar cane, which eventually turned into banana plantations, this countryside is beautiful and with the recent rain it looks so
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The Castle
lush and green.

The journey was uneventful and we arrived at around lunch time, we went into scope things out and the lady said it was $32.00 each which included a campsite for one night, which was powered, a day tour and a night tour, which you could do as many times as you wished, you could also visit as many times as you wish during a 12 month period.

We thought it was a good deal so headed off in to the 13 acre facility and found pitch number 14, which was ours for the night. The trailer was set up and again everything was unpacked and then we needed to pop into town (Mena Creek, if you could call it town) to get a loaf of bread and a few other bits and pieces, and the guy in the store was asking us whereabouts in the UK we came from. We told him and he went on to say that he had aunt who lived in Coleshill near Birmingham, Coleshill was not far from where I went to school and where my Dad used to have his business, small world.

We had lunch then just
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The great staircase
sat for a couple of hours enjoying the afternoon sun and on we went for a walk around Paronella Park.

Paronella Park was built by a Spaniard, José Paronella, who arrived in nearby Innisfail in 1913,having sailed from Catalonia in Northern Spain, to plan a new life for him and his fiancée Matilda.

He worked hard for 11 years making his money by buying run down cane farms, building them back up and selling them as a going concern and whilst travelling through the beautiful country side discovered a virgin rain forest along the Mena Creek Falls.

11 years later he returned to Spain and found his Fiancée Matilda had married another man, (he should have stayed in touch!) and as he was determined to sail back to Australia with a bride he married Matilda’s sister, Magarita. 1 year later they returned to Spain where Jose set about making his dream come true and built Paronella Park.

Jose was a dreamer and put his life into building a home for him and Magarita, he built a castle, created a picnic area around the water at the bottom of the falls, he offered boat trips to visitors,
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Feeding the fish
there were two tennis courts and refreshment rooms, not to mention the clever planting of Kauri trees that create a beautiful avenue that if you stand at one end you can see the spectacular falls right at the end.

Paronella Park is steeped in history, and is home to Queensland’s first hydroelectric plant, which is currently under restoration and hopefully operating within the next couple of months, this history includes many natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and fire each one taking its toll on the Park, originally being passed down through generations of the Paronella family, but eventually was sold on outside the family, it is still privately owned but there is no funding from the government so the Evans family rely on visitors to help fund the restoration of this fabulous place.

Anyway, we wander around the park, at first it seems untidy, however you soon succumb to its charm. The untidy feel is only because some building work is being done and the castle that once stood so beautifully is currently in ruins due to a fire that ravaged it in 1979. It will take time to restore this place to its original charm.
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The main falls

We find a path that takes us up to the edge of the creek, we find a huge shoal of fish hanging around the edge of the water, and amongst them we see Turtles, some small some large.

A Turkey seems to be sticking with us as we walk around and then wanders down the path ahead of us as if to say “this way!” We find ourselves outside the Tunnel of Love, you are not allowed in unless you are on a tour, we later find out that bats are nesting so they need to be left alone.

It is time to go and have a cup of tea and a sit down, we are doing the night tour at 6.20 so we want to have a rest before that. We got back to camp the kettle was on and after a cold shower we changed into some clean togs, and relaxed.

Time ticked on and we were soon waiting for our tour guide, he does a role call and hands out a torch to everyone, well it is a night tour so we need to be able to see. I had a torch in my
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This fella seeed to guide us around
pocket, but I used theirs rather than us up our battery.

We followed our guide as he explained how the park is lit up and changes at night, it seemingly becomes more romantic with some of the solar powered lights that line Lover’s Lane, to the entrance of the Tunnel of Love.

This time we are allowed in the tunnel, the guide tells us to switch our torches off and he takes us inside the tunnel, while he guides us by one lamp along the path, in the tunnel we find loads of tiny micro bats, they were only a couple of months old, the adult bats had gone out leaving their brood, to put their size into perspective they are probably no bigger than the size of a cotton reel, it is a real treat to see these tiny creatures.

We go to the waterfall to see it all lit up and as some of us have been carrying tripods we all line up to take pictures of the falls, at the waters edge the guide shows us the eels, he throws some food in for them and they almost slither up the steps with eager
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The old picnic area
anticipation for food. We then wander over to see the Lower Refreshment Rooms and the fountain all lit up, it is quite spectacular and again something very enchanting and romantic about this environment at night.

Soon the tour is over, we are both hungry and Andy decided that as it was his birthday yesterday he wanted a beer so we popped over to the Mena Creek Hotel to pick some up. We were greeted by a very happy chappy behind the bar, he engages us in conversation very easily, we decide what we want but then we decide to stay for a drink too, so I have a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Andy has a beer, for some strange reason we suddenly decide to have dinner there too.

The barman produces a menu, and tells us that the special is chicken and mushroom fettuccini and it is very good as he had it for his evening meal, he tells us it is a set price and we both go for it, with a side of Garlic bread, probably in about 10 minutes we have two hansom plates full of dinner and I have to say
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Feeding the fish
it was excellent.

The barman tells us that his whole family have taken over the hotel and a new venture for them all, his mum and dad and sister are all part of the operation.

We have had a couple of beers and our dinner and some great conversation, we have given them a blow by blow account of our travels and they seem pleased that we have gone off the beaten track to experience what we believe to be the real Australia and have embraced all that went with this adventure.
We thank them for their excellent hospitality and wish them all success in their venture, we got a great feeling from them all and are positive they will make it.

We get back to the trailer our tummies full we sit and do a bit of blog , Caroline finished a puzzle that has been bothering her for ages, she had that eureka moment.

It was soon time for bed, we had earlier felt rain drops on our laps so guessed it may rain, little did we know. !!.

Until tomorrow everyone, we bid you a good night.

Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 29


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Paronella Park

The Picnic area
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Paronella Park

The museum
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Paronella Park

The bridge
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Paronella Park

The Fountain
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Paronella Park

The lower refreshment room
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Paronella Park

Kauri Avenue
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Paronella Park

Andy on the bridge
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Paronella Park

The main pond
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Paronella Park

Turtles in the water

24th October 2009

The special place that is Paronella
Hi from Sarah's Mum (Wallaby Wanderers) - we have been following your progress with great interest. The photos from Paronella brought back some lovely memories of when we were there in 2003. It's certainly a 'one-off' place and a labour of love for the owners. Good luck with the remainder of your travels! Best wishes, Jan and Graham.

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