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CAIRNS - Atherton Tablelands Day Trip


Magical. Unforgettable. That’s just 2 words to describe Paronella Park.

We visited on the first day they re-opened after COVID at the end of June. We were greeted in the car park while we were still in the car.

A hauntingly beautiful place of overgrown structures & ruins decaying among the rainforest awaited us.

Paronella Park is about what one man's dream can achieve. Jose Paronella built a castle beside a majestic waterfall, along with a picnic area by the falls, tennis courts, bridges and a love tunnel. The 45 minute guided walk is not negotiable as you learn the extraordinary story about Jose and how his dream became a reality.

So much history and interesting things to see here.  They have one of the oldest original hydro generators in the world, using water from the waterfall.

With Hubby having 2 prosthetic legs he was offered comfortable vehicle transfers down to the lower level normally accessible by a long flight of ancient stone stairs. This service is offered for anyone that may have difficulty negotiating the stairs.

The signs on the stairs represent various flood levels over the years.

Once the tour is over you are free to wander around the 13 acre 50 shades of green, mossy enchanted place. It is evident that it is growing old gracefully. At times it’s like you are walking around in a fairy tale.

Jose planted a corridor of Kauri Pines in 1933 as seedlings. When he planted these he knew he would never live to see them fully grown. It really was a gift for the next generations to come.

Whilst our kids did get a bit bored after an hour or so, they had lots of fun feeding the turtles, fish and eels. And of course they enjoyed walking across the suspension bridge that spans the glorious falls.

Paronella is without a doubt worth the hour and a half drive down from Cairns.

From here we wanted to make the most of the day and travelled North West on a 50 minute scenic drive to the mesmerising Millaa Millaa Falls.

Out of all the waterfalls we have seen on our travels, Millaa Milla is the best! It’s a picture postcard 18.3m plunge waterfall. The perfect waterfall for those with mobility issues as you virtually park your car right at the waterfall. There are toilet facilities and change rooms available for those wishing to take a dip in the cool water. You can easily see why it’s one of the most photographed waterfalls in Australia. It is recognisable around the world thanks to its regular appearances on TV screens for hair products and beer. Most notably being the Peter Andre and Herbal Essence adverts. The pool at the bottom of the falls is where you need to get the infamous Herbal Essence hair flick action shot.

From Millaa Millaa we drove half an hour to the gorgeous town of Yungaburra. Hanging baskets adorn the iconic grand old lady of a pub where we were hoping to get lunch but unfortunately it had not yet re-opened from Covid. So we continued on to our last stop of the day to see the giant Curtain Tree Fig located just 5 minutes out of Yungaburra.

Truly a natural phenomenon, starting from a seed dropped high in the canopy, this ancient strangler fig which is estimated to be over 500 years old, grew vertical roots, which gradually became thicker and interwoven.  Over hundreds of years these roots have strangled the host causing it to fall into a neighbouring tree, a stage unique to the development of this fig. The tree is thought to be nearly 50 metres tall, with a trunk circumference of 39 metres. Even the kids were in awe of its size.

It is a very easy and short walk along a raised boardwalk from the car park to view this magnificent tree. It is really hard to try and describe just how enormous this tree is without seeing it for yourself. Just look up and take it all in amongst the quiet. Listen to the birds. A very peaceful place and most definitely worth the short stop before heading back to Cairns.

This day was a FULL day, so make sure you leave early in the morning to allow sufficient time to enjoy the day and take all the WOWs in.


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