The drive from Cairns south to Paronella Park was a beautiful ride through bucolic agrarian landscape punctuated by lovely mountains and small Australian towns. The waterfall and rain forest walk were enjoyable, and the Mamu Skywalk was a unique experience. Paronella Park was a bit of a let-down for me. I was expecting more than just a few moldy concrete ruins, but decades of seasonal wear and tear capped by a few disastrous floods have not left much. My wife and I opted out of the night walk to see eels in a stream near the ruins. On the way back to Cairns, we stopped in a residential neighborhood to see wild wallabies out and about on their nocturnal activities. Our driver-guide was a very charming young man from the same Indian Tamil ethnic group as my wife. He kept us entertained and informed about the places we were visiting. All in all, a wonderful day of varied activities.
The places visited are really interesting, the problem being that there is not enough time at each location. The whole tour felt rushed and not an enjoyable holiday experience. The first stop at Josephine Falls was 15 mins. and no swimming allowed due to heavy rainfall, however from listening to our guide there is no time for swimming anyway so if you expect a dip, then be aware it may not happen. Next was Mamu Skywalk which was very interesting if only I'd had time to read all the information along the walk. We were rushed along so quickly that even the personal audio we had didn't finish each section before we were in the next. Paronella Park was amazing but with 15 mins. to look around it in daylight before dinner there was not much chance to see anything. Dinner was good if you choose that option and the 1hour night tour of the park was worth it. All in all if you want to visit these attractions then find a tour where you have longer at each.
This is a good day trip in that it gives you a taste of several areas/activities all in one trip. The tour operator was extremely knowledgeable on the area and provided commentary and stories throughout. This could be the activity for you if you want to do several things in one day. Personally I found it too rushed at each location and just wanted it over about 3/4 of the way through. Heads up that day to night trip means it leaves at 1 in the afternoon and so you won't get back to hotel until 9:30-10pm. Good if that's what you are looking for but might tire you out if you have an early trip planned the next day. I wish I had done a day trip to Paronella so could explore and spend more time.
More than my expectation. Visited several places in one day with an experienced tour guide-Victor. He is so knowledgeable of all scenery along the road and the history of Paronella Park. We enjoyed his company very much! Highly inspired by the builder of this castle. This was a highlight of my Cairns tour.