Mena Falls at Paronella Park.
Mena Falls at Paronella Park.

It’s great to be back on deck after an enjoyable couple of weeks or so off on holidays catching up with some familiar sights and some new ones as well.

It seems like ancient history when I drove down from Mount Isa to Brisbane a couple of weeks ago, stopping for the night at the lovely Wellshot Hotel in Ilfracombe just out of Longreach.

Ilfracombe is a lovely little town complete with an amazing folk museum that has exhibits such as old graders, trucks and tractors that line the highway for a kilometre of so and a small indoor section with old bottles and the like.

I was struck with the collection of old rifles and guns next to a startling sight of a complete Nazi flag. 

I assume it was war booty captured in Germany in the Second World War rather than some fascist cult in mid west Queensland though there was no actual information display I could see that told the story of how that flag got there.

The other highlight of that part of the trip was my first visit to Combo Waterhole near Kynuna, and all its associations with Banjo Paterson – see more on that in an upcoming North West Star Weekender article.

I then spent a week in Brisbane to catch up with friends and family before driving north to get some coastal fix before returning inland. 

I’ve done that triangular Mount Isa – Brisbane – Townsville drive a few times in my time in the north west, so this time stretched it out a bit further as far as Cairns. I think I only first heard of Paronella Park, near Innisfail, a year or two ago for for some reason it has been popping up a lot lately in my reading so I was keen to check it out.

When I asked my tour guide why that might be she simply smiled and said “probably just good marketing”.

And it is well worth marketing, a remarkable castle on 11 woodland hectares next to a waterfall set up by by a far-thinking Spaniard in the early 20th century determined to give North Queenslanders some tourism opportunities.

It is a beautiful and relaxing place and one of the highlights of a great fortnight.

My thanks to Melody Labinsky for ably filling my shoes while I was away – Derek Barry