Weirdest Things I’ve Seen While Exploring Abandoned Ghost Towns

A tourist attraction by day, I thought Paronella in Australia turned into a spooky park at night.

The tunnel of love during the day.

Monica Humphries / Insider

Known as a top tourist destination in Queensland, Australia, Paronella Park attracts hundreds of visitors every day to explore the property’s abandoned stone buildings, owner Mark Evans told Insider.

The buildings, which are now covered in fuzzy green moss, were once home to José Paronella, who dreamed of building a castle in Australia’s lush rainforest, Evans said.

Paronella succeeded and opened a castle with a ballroom, cafe, gardens and other buildings for the public in 1935, Evans explained.

In 1948, José died of cancer and bequeathed the castle and its surrounding buildings to his family. Finally, in 1977, the family sold the land and its abandoned buildings. Mark and Judy Evans purchased the land in 1993 and reopened it as a tourist attraction.

I stopped to chat with Evans and walk around the property. Paronella Park was busy in the early afternoon, but by sunset the majority of visitors were gone.

I, on the other hand, stayed for an overnight visit.

That’s when the vibe of the property turned spooky. As the sun set, I noticed the lush forest darken and the moss-covered buildings blend in seamlessly with nature.

After the visit, visitors have carte blanche to explore the property. I wandered in the dark, where every sound, every smell and every shape made me nervous. I was unfamiliar with nightlife in Queensland, and wasn’t sure what animals I might encounter…

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