No way, Jose!

The rainforests are behind us. We take the Canecutter Way to Mission Beach, a scenic route that lets us stop at a winery (where our newly acquired taste for the Black Sapote fruit prompts our purchase of some exotic Port), see cane train carriages being loaded, and salivate over rows upon rows of almost-ready-for-picking banana trees. We also stop overnight on a detour into the extraordinary. Paronella Park is the manifestion of one man's dream to build himself a castle. Back in the 1930s, Jose Paronella snared himself 13 acres of virgin forest including the Mena Creek waterfalls, built his dream castle, added ballroom, tennis courts, tunnels, bridges, and tropical gardens, powered it all with a hydro electric turbine, and opened his doors to the public. The park was eventually ravaged by cyclones and floods and disappeared beneath the radar for a decade or two - now it is open again as an historic and eco treasure, and one of the state's top attractions. We do an afternoon tour AND a nighttime tour, both of which make us feel that we are excavating ancient castle ruins deep in the Amazon jungle, and not merely traipsing through someone's impressive back yard in North Queensland. Equally impressive is the incredible $2/kg price of bananas at Stevo's farm just up the road. We load up a box before pushing on to the beach...

A waterfall in your own backyard... lovely!
... and a river, full of fish, turtles and great big eels. Eeeugh!
Down amongst the tennis courts, changing rooms and bocce bowling greens.
Inside the Lovers Tunnel, which now houses miniature bats and some rather large spiders.
The castle lit up at night.
Down at the tennis courts again, this time in the moonlight and with classical music adding to the atmosphere.