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Paronella is a mad place, really. Built in the 1930s by a Spanish immigrant who had made his fortune in the nearby sugar cane fields, it was intended as a Spanish style castle, complete with ice cream parlor, bowling green, and ballroom in the middle of the Queensland rainforest. So yes, madness.

It’s taken a pounding from various cyclones and fires over the years, along with the ever-encroaching tropical flora, and as a result is basically an 80 year-old ruin. But it has a certain bizarre charm, and we spent a very pleasant hour or so wandering its grounds, planted with a wide selection of topical plants, including kauri and bamboo.

The extensive variety of fruit trees offer a wonderful larder for the colony of fruit bats that fill the place with their chatter (and guano, hence the umbrella). Still, the park management want to be very clear — no flying furry friendships allowed.

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