Today, we have an incredible combination of the 7,500 plants, trees and ferns Jose and his wife Margarita planted plus the growth that has occurred over the past 70 years.
The park has become an amazing habitat for hundreds of varieties of birds, butterflies, fish and many other animals.
Although more often heard than seen, the birds in the Park are varied and plentiful. A few of those more commonly seen are described below.
Emerald green wings, purple-brown head, neck and underparts, white shoulder patch (male) or grey shoulder (female). Often seen on the ground. Voice - low repeated cooing.
Also known as OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD. Olive-yellow head, neck, back and wings. Yellow underparts, tail tipped white. Male - deep purplish-blue chin and upper breast. Voice - high pitched 'dzit-dzit'; hissing whistle. Builds suspended nests, which can be seen near the Castle in the Top Gardens. Feeds on spiders.
Male - facial skin pink, red or orange. Back olive-green. Brilliant yellow underparts. Female - facial skin blue. Upper parts brownish. Throat and breast cream, heavily streaked. Voice - soft, musical; short sharp yelps. Often seen on the Ficus benjamina near the Castle, feeding on the small red fruit.
Greenish-yellow upper parts. Lightly streaked yellow underparts. Yellow bill, red eye. Wing dark, edged with cream. Female paler.Voice - melodius.
Lustrous black body, bright red eye. Bill, legs black. Voice - harsh, chattering. Move in flocks. Nest in colonies. One such colony can be found in the Park, near the Golden Bamboo. Migratory.
Black body. Breast, wings, tail glossy. Flaring tail fork. Heavy black bill. Red eye. Voice - very vocal. Varied sounds - rasping, hissing, crackling. Swift erratic flight. Small flocks or singly. Often seen in Top Gardens.
Male - upperparts black, dark grey rump, white markings through wing. Underparts white, fine dark barring. Light cinnamon vent. Female - as for male, browner above, underparts grey-buff with barring. Voice - distinctive trill. Often seen on the Ficus benjamina near the Castle, feeding on the small red fruit.
Largest of the Kingfisher family.Large head - cream with mottled brown, large bill. Back and wings brown with blue on wings. Voice - raucous laughter
Dark brown back and wings. Dark grey neck and body, orange legs, brown crest. Builds mound for nesting.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Black Butcherbird, Azure Kingfisher.
There are many varieties of Butterflies found in the Top Gardens and in the Park. A few of the more easily identifiable are described below.
This large, bright blue butterfly, a symbol of Far North Queensland, is one of the more commonly found in the Park. Its larval plant food Euodia elleryana, is the large tree found at the entrance to the Top Gardens (No. 49). The butterflies feed on the many brightly coloured flowers in the Top Gardens, such as Ixora and Pentas.
This is Australia's largest butterfly. The male has a striking pattern of green, gold and black, with red markings on the upper body. The female's colouring is more subdued in black, white and gold, with the same red body and gold abdomen. The larval food plant is the vine Aristolochia tagala, more commonly known as Dutchman's Pipe.
This is the tiny flash of blue often seen in the Park. The male is brilliant blue above, and the female blue and white.
While the most dominant feature of a rainforest is the trees, there are many other plant forms such as vines, orchids, palms, ferns, gingers, lilies, etc.
Rainforests in this region are termed Tropical, and can be found near Mackay (Eungella) and from Townsville to Cape York Peninsula. They are the most luxuriant of the Australian Rainforests.
Below is a partial list of the trees and plants found in Paronella Park.
GLOCHIDION PARAKENSE XANTHOSTEMON WHITEI TOONA AUSTRALIS FICUS BENJAMINA DYSOXYLUM DECANDRUM CASTANOSPERNUM AUSTRALE MALLOTUS POLYADENOS MYRISTICA INSIPIDA PIPER CANINUM CARNARVONIA ARALIIFOLIA XANTHOSTEMON CHRYSANTHUS POLYSCIAS AUSTRALIANA NEOLITSEA DEALBATA SYNIMA CORDIERI BOWENIA SPECTABILIS ALSTONIA SCHOLARIS SYZYGIUM KURANDA LIANE OPISTHIOLEPSIS HETEROPHYLLA SYZYGIUM GUSTAVIOIDES ROCKINGHAMIA AUGUSTIFOLIA LEPIDOZAMIA HOPEI FLINDERSIA BRAYLEYANA FICUS VARIEGATA ELAEOCARPUS KIRTONII ANGIOPTERIS EVECTA RHODOMYRTUS MACROCARPA BARRINGTONIA CALYPTRATA LIVISTONA Sp. POLYSCIAS ELEGANS FICUS DESTRUENS CARDWELLIA SUBLIMIS DAVIDSONIA PRURIENS ALEURITES MOLUCCANA CHRYSALIDOCARPUS LUTESCENS AGATHIS ROBUSTA CHUKRASIA TABULARIS GMELINA ARBOREA TECTONA GRANDIS EUCALYPTUS TORELLIANA ELAEOCARPUS GRANDIS DYSOXYLUM PETTIGREWIANUM FICUS VIRENS ARCHONTOPHOENIX ALEXANDRAE PTYCHOSPERMA MACARTHURII CYATHEA REBECCAE ALSTONIA MUELLERANA GMELINA FASCICULIFLORA EUODIA ELLERYANA ENDIANDRA PALMERSTONII SCHEFFLERA ACTINOPHYLLA BEAUMONTIA GRANDIFLORA
Buttonwood or Cheese Tree
Caledonian or Red Silky Oak
Large woody vines which loop from tree to tree
Blush Silky Oak
Zamia or Pineapple Palm
Giant Fern (Lovers Lane and the Fernery)
Weeping Cabbage Palm
Silver Basswood or Celerywood
Northern Silky Oak
Golden Cane Palm
Queensland Kauri Pine (Kauri Avenue)
Northern White Beech
Pink Evodia (Larval food plant for Ulysses butterflies)
Nepal Trumpet Flower
There is a few marine species which are a big part of the Paronella Park experience.
Description: As the name suggests, sooty grunter are sooty-black, ranging to blackish-purple. They can also be dark brown or various shades of gold. Some fish have irregular patches of gold on a dark body. They are stocky-bodied fish and specimens up to 7kg have been recorded. At sexual maturity these fish are around 26-27cm in length. Sooty grunter have an anal fin with 8 or 9 rays.
Habitat/distribution: Sooty grunter prefer rivers with clear flowing water and a sandy or rocky substrate, but have a wide range of environmental tolerance. They occur naturally in the coastal rivers north of and including the Burdekin River, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and westwards to the Daly River in the Northern Territory. Many north Queensland dams have been stocked with sooty grunter.
Description: Jungle perch are also known as rock flagtail, due to the colour of their tail. The tail is usually barred and spotted, giving it a flag-like appearance. Jungle perch are closely related to two other species, but can be distinguished using a number of features. They have distinctive lateral line counts and tail patterns. Their lateral line count is 41-44, which is less than the two other species. Young fish have an oblique black blotch across each lobe of their tail, which fuses to become a broad, black vertical bar as they age. They are olive-brown above and silvery below, with black spots covering their body. Jungle perch grow up to 56cm in length and 2.4kg. At maturity they are around 26-27cm in length.
Habitat/distribution: Jungle perch are brackish-water fish found in northern Queensland waters. Although they prefer tidal waters, many fish readily move into freshwaters. They are often seen in fast-flowing rivers and streams in coastal areas.
Description: The skin of the snapping turtle is brown, except for on the underside of the neck, which is creamy-coloured. Under the lower jaw of turtle are two small barbells of projecting skin, which look almost like a little beard. The neck is covered with nodules of scaly skin, not always evident in babyhood. The skin on top of the head becomes coloured to match the carapace, so that when the turtle has withdrawn it's head, the vulnerable top of the head looks like part of the shell.
Habitat: The Saw Shelled Snapping Turtle is found along Eastern Australia from North-Eastern New South Wales to the tip of Cape York Peninsula, where it lives in rivers.
Nesting: September to January, 9-17 hard-shelled eggs, hatching after 60 days, several clutches can be laid each season.
Feeding: Feeds on aquatic insects, fish, tadpoles and frogs. One of few native animals which successfully preys on Cane Toad.
Types: Anguilla reinhardtii (Long-finned eel); Antuilla australis (Short-finned eel); and Anguilla obscura (South Pacific eel).
Description: Freshwater eels become sexually mature at a wide range of ages, even as late as 96 years, at which time they migrate to the sea to breed and die. Female longfins mature at an average length of about 93cm, and males at around 56cm, though individuals vary a great deal, with some females reaching lengths of more than 200cm, girths of about 50cm and weights of more than 20kg. Female shortfins mature at around 70cm, and males at around 42cm. Long-finned eels are olive-green mottled with darker green, brown and black, adult short-finned eels are olive-green without mottling, and south Pacific eels are uniformly dark brown.
Habitat/distribution: Long-finned eels are common throughout Queensland, while short-finned eels are more common in southerly areas of Australia. All Freshwater eel species can be found in freshwater rivers, dams, lagoons and lakes. All species migrate to sea to breed.
It is common to see some of these creatures scurrying away as you explore Paronella Park!
Body weight is 5 to 9 grams, forearm 36-42mm. Greyish-brown in colour, slightly paler belly. Short ears, domed head. Wing structure differs from other bats; end section of third finger (wing tip) 4 times length of middle section, giving the appearance of a bent wing.
Their habitat is the rainforest, open forest, coastal scrub, mangroves. Cape York, Qld, to Taree, NSW. New guinea, south east Asia.
Their flight pattern is swift, manoeuvrable, in, around and under forest canopy. Often flies along tracks and roads through rainforest.
They form large colonies in Summer when young are born. Roosts in dense clusters, particularly in Winter; can be inactive for several days. Throughout the day, they sit in a meditative state, at night they fly to find food.
This species of micro bat can eat up to half of their body weight in insects, including flies, ants, moths and wasps. They will fly within a 40 km radius(or thereabouts) to find this food, usually travelling about 200 km within that radius.
Wingspan more than 1m, weight from 400 to 900 grams. Black and grey in colour, with a cream patch on the back of the neck from the ears to shoulders. The eyes are encircled by a wide ring of pale yellow fur extending along muzzle. This species of flying fox has no tail.
Their habitat is confined to coast and ranges. Camps in rainforest or nearby swampy areas, occasionally seen in open forest. From Cape York to Cardwell.
At dusk, they fly towards feeding grounds, travelling at 25-35 km per hour, and between 20-100 metres high. Flyout direction forms patterns that change due to food availability.
In breeding season, From September to December, females often succumb to paralysis tick and fall to the ground. This species of flying fox is considered ‘at risk'.
Also known as the Brush Turkey, Scrub Turkey, or Wild Turkey, they have a length of 60-70 cms. Black in colour, some dark grey scallops on under side; head and neck skin red, yellow wattle around neck, the male has a larger hanging wattle than the female. The chicks are mustard brown in colour.
Their habitat is closed forest, or dense vegeation. From Cape York, Queensland to Woolongong, NSW. It's numbers have greatly depleted because of the ectivities of illegal shooters, but there are many places where it is still plentiful.
Eggs incubated in large mounds of vegetable matter built by male. As many as 30 eggs may be found in one mound.
They are solitary, strictly terrestrial, and all have quite long pointed heads and compact bodies. The forelimbs are generally short and the hindlimbs resemble those of macropods. They have a powerful thigh, an elongated foot, and its axis is continued into a large clawed fourth toe. They have a short tail with little or no function in locomotion. Bandicoots are about 50cm overall. They have brown fur above and creamy white fur on the belly. Bandicoots are often mistaken for rats, but actually more closely resemble rabbits. They are about the size of rabbits, they hop like rabbits and they breed even faster than rabbits.
As one of the ‘giant’ snakes, it has been recorded at a length of up to 8.5 metres (28 ft), found near Gordonvale, but are more frequently found at lengths of 3-5m (10-16 ft). It acquires its name from the fact that when viewed from certain angles in direct sunlight, it displays an Amethyst coloured shine all over its body. It is a slender python for its size and is not able to kill large animals that the related Anaconda of South America and the Pythons of Africa and Asia can.
These snakes are found in the northern tropics and eastern Australia. If handled, this snake can produce an unpleasant odour and will bite for a final attempt at defence. Yet, its teeth are tiny and the bite is harmless, as the Green Tree Snake has no fangs. The Green Tree Snake eats small reptiles and frogs (engulfing them head first) and even the occasional fish.
The green tree ant belongs to the ant genus Oecophylla , which consists of only two species; 1. longinoda and 2. smaragdina . Oecophylla smaragdina is found in the tropical coastal areas in Australia as far south as Rockhampton and across the coastal tropics of the Northern Territory down to Broome in West Australia. Green ants are also often referred to as weaver ants because of their ability to weave leaves together to form nests bound with silk produced by their larvae. Most of the nest construction and weaving is conducted at night with major workers weaving towards the exterior of the nests and minor workers weaving within the interior.
A mature colony of green tree ants can hold as many as 100,000 to 500,000 workers and may span as many as 12 trees and contain as many as 150 nests. Green ant colonies have one queen and a colony can live for up to eight years. Minor workers usually remain within the egg chambers of the nest tending the larvae, whereas major workers defend the colony territory, assist with the care of the queen and forage.
Several species of spider live with green ants such as the salticid spider Cosmophasis bitaeniata . Salticid spiders, or jumping spiders, as they are sometimes referred to, have excellent eyesight and are only active during daylight, weaving a protective silken cocoon to spend the night in. Interestingly, this spider does not look like green ants but instead it chemically mimics green tree ants.