Monday, September 5, 2011

Paronella Park - An amazing place to photograph!

"Paronella Park was built in the 1930s by José Paronella, a Spanish immigrant.[1] José Paronella built facilities, including tennis courts and a cinema and a ballroom inspired by Spanish castles, to provide entertainment for the public. Since his death, a fire, a cyclone and several floods have badly damaged the park and the buildings. The park changed owners several times until, in 1993, it was bought by the present owners." - Wikipedia
When I arrived at Paronella the place was buzzing with excitement as a Sydney film crew was half an hour away.  The nice man at the door waiting for the film crew who I presume is the owner said he has turned away American TV shows as the place has become so busy in recent times.  He informed me that magazines such as Vogue have done photo shoots in the park.  He spoke with such enthusiasm about the place that made you want to share the Paronella dream.
Camera in hand I went down the grand staircase covered in moss and deep into the park.  I explored alone and found the tunnel of love, the old ice cream parlour and the theatre.  It takes quite a bit of imagination to picture it with red velvet curtains lining the walls which have since crumbled.  The concrete stage still remains in tact, also covered in bright green moss. I am told some of the elderly folk that used to come here in its heyday are saddened by the current state of the once picture perfect Paronella, while this generation seem to embrace the mossy walls as part of the parks enchantment. 
There is something really magical about this place, it has it all - beauty, love, loss, triumph, tragedy, and overcoming against all odds.  If you are travelling between Townsville & Cairns it is well worth a look.

Waterfall by Day

Castle lights up on "Darkness Falls" tour

Waterfall by Night
This place is full of nature and although the guided walks are great for the story of the park I really loved the quiet times exploring old castles and watching the turtles.

The Dream Continues tour - a 45 minute guided walk, departing every half-hour from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., highlighting features of the park and telling the story of José Paronella’s ideas for the site.
The Darkness Falls tour - a one hour night tour of the site at 6:20 p.m., with an additional tour at 8:30 p.m. during peak season.
Self-guided Botanical Walk - a self-guided tour, with the aid of a 16-page booklet containing details of the Park's flora, with various tree species identified throughout the Park.

My photography tips for Paronella:  Bring your tripiod, PL filter and stay the night in the caravan park (included in admission) so you can go into the park early in the morning before it opens.  This way you can get great shots without tour groups in your way.  Also do the darkness falls tour as this is the only way to see the park with the lights on, & when doing the darkness falls you will need a tripod.

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