Tropical Horizons-Paronella Park and The Tablelands

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Travel review submitted By Anna – 08/08/2014 – Tropical Horizons-Paronella Park and The Tablelands

Our trip started with a pick up from the Holiday Inn at approximately 7.30am, climbing aboard the 21 seater bus after a warm welcome from our driver and guide Allain we completed short introductions with the other 13 passengers and off we went.

Karin and I were given a lunch menu to indicate our choice within 5 minutes of boarding. There were three choices for lunch including a vegetarian choice and three choices for dessert.

Apparently the driver loses coverage on his phone as we travel towards the Tablelands so he gets everyone’s choice straight away and after a short drive, we pull over at the side of the road and he calls it through.

We thought that maybe it would be a suggestion to call it through on a landline from Lake Barrine when guests are doing the cruise as the driver stays on the land for that 45 minute period.

Karin and I should have had the GPS activated audio system on board so that we can see what our guests experience, but although there was the device for us, there were no headphones on board. They sell these headphones for an extra $3 p.p. so assumed that there would be plenty on board but not so. If we had known we could have taken our own.

It was a wet and grey morning as we climbed the Gillies Range heading up towards the Tablelands; with Allain chatting away talking about everything from trees to the weather and our day’s itinerary.

We reached the Lake Barrine Tea House and shop at 9am and enjoyed warm freshly baked scones with jam and cream and a nice cup of tea or coffee.

After our refreshments we boarded the boat for our guided wildlife and fauna cruise on Lake Barrine, this was a very informative cruise where Bruce the skipper pointed out different trees and plants and the odd carpet python snake as we moved along.

The skipper also fed the different types of birds so that we could get photographs. He was a little disappointed at the lack of wildlife for us, but the rain was pretty heavy throughout the cruise.

After 45 minutes we were back on dry land and after a quick toilet break we boarded the bus and headed to the stunning  Giant Curtain Fig tree, where we enjoyed a guided rainforest walk guided by Allain.

We travelled afterwards to Tarzali Lakes for a chance to spot a Platypus. I have seen a Platypus a few times so opted to stay on the bus and stay dry as it was pouring down and very muddy. The other guests spotted one on their walk so were happy when they boarded the bus.

After a 45 minute drive we arrived at the beautiful and famous Milla Milla Falls. On a hotter dryer day I would definitely have gotten in for a quick dip, but, it was so cold, rainy and grey; one guest got in for a quick swim so that his family could take a photo of him swimming under a waterfall.

The waterfall was still stunning to see regardless of the weather, we were pretty lucky as we were the only group there at that stage. We played tag all morning with other companies offering a similar trip.

Everyone back on board, we headed to Mungalli Dairy and Shop for a cheese, yogurt and dip tasting experience. We were a little disappointed as you never actually saw any of the production process at all.

We spent the time there in the gift shop where a lady brought out a small service trolley with a tray on the top with two small dishes of chopped up cheese and even smaller three dishes with dips and three with yogurt. This was for anyone to try and share, so not just for our group. The lady did a short talk on the produce and how it was all made on site and that everything on the tray was available for sale form the shop.

There is a window at the far end of the shop where you can see through to the factory and watch some of the process, but unfortunately there are books and things on this shelf to block the view in.

The visit to the dairy would have been so much better if we could have seen some of the process of the cheese being made.

I bought some locally grown Macadamia Nuts and Karin purchased some Free Range Eggs and Green Tea. The shop stocked a lot of different jams and chutneys, nuts, teas, coffees, crafts etc all produced on the Tablelands. Really good to support the local farms and producers.

The nuts were delicious and I nibbled them throughout my day.

A short bus journey next to our lunch location, this was right on the banks of the beautiful Mungalli Falls, at the Tropical Horizons purpose built outside covered dining area. What a location, we had our lunch sitting only a few feet away from the cascading Mungalli Falls, stunning!

I had the crumbed fish with chips and salad and a dinner roll for lunch, this was plentiful and tasty.

For dessert I enjoyed the apple crumble and ice cream, washed down with a cup of Tablelands produced tea. Everyone seemed happy with their choices for lunch and the quality and tastiness of the food. Service was prompt!

We stared out of the window through the rain as Allain entertained us with commentary on Paronella Park and the afternoon’s itinerary. Pulling into the car park of Paronella Park an hour after leaving Mungalli Falls.

Alighting the vehicle and heading into the gift shop for a quick look around before walking out the other side to a clearly signed meeting point for a 3pm guided historical Paronella Park Tour, which is based on Jose Paronella and the building of the castle, leading up to date with the current owners.

It is a few years since I had been here and saw that the owners had really worked on the outside dining area, and signage. A nice touch with all the umbrellas for visitors to borrow and we certainly needed them as it never stopped raining.

The guided walk was very interesting, the guide told us some funny stories that made an otherwise wet and cold walk very light hearted, really enjoyable!

After the tour, we had around 20 minutes to have a look around the park, but the rain was so heavy, Karin and I opted to wander around the shop and have a look inside; we did have a look in the old Paronella cottage, where the family lived while at Paronella Park.

It has been converted into a museum with lots of interesting photographs and documents. This is all contained in one room only. There is no access to the rest of the house for visitors.

Afternoon tea consisting of Tea or Coffee and a biscuit each was served at 4.10pm and by 4.40pm we were on the bus ready for our 90 minutes Journey back to Cairns.

We both really enjoyed the trip; we covered a big area and visited quite a few places. However, it was very relaxed and Allain was a happy guide that you could tell loved his work and sharing his expertise.

Thank you so much for the day Tropical Horizons, such a great itinerary.

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