Adventure in Paradise, Far North Queensland’s forgotten theme park, hinges on the hope of a revival


A long forgotten amusement park in Kuranda is slowly reclaimed by the rainforest as the owner hopes one day someone will rekindle their dream of rainforest paradise.

Dug Stratford has lived at the top of the Kuranda Range for most of his 83 years.

Mr. Stratford’s house and bus depot is on one side of the Kennedy Highway.

Across the road is the land that has belonged to his family for over three generations.

It is also the home of a long forgotten tourist attraction.

Mr. Stratford’s grandparents opened “The Maze” in 1923, which was later renamed “Paradise”.

In 1928, the family also opened one of the first golf courses in the Far North.

The Kennedy Highway now crosses it after the route was reclaimed for the road during WWII.

Guests rowed to Heaven in Kuranda in the 1920s.(Provided: Dug Stratford )

Mr Stratford said visitors would walk up from Kuranda station.

“They then rowed across the river, then walked to ‘Paradise’ where they were served scones and tea under the rainforest,” he said.

“My mom was always there for me to reopen the place, so I fired and put all my money here,” he said.

“We had a little miniature train going around the property, and it was running pretty well until Skyrail came into the picture and it is shaking up all tourism in the outlying areas.”

After the return of his business partner from Disneyland, the two decided to install animated animals in 2001.

An old fiberglass elephant surrounded by grass
One of the remaining animatronic elephants from the Kuranda Adventure in Paradise theme park, which is now reclaimed by the local rainforest.(ABC Grand Nord: Phil Brandel )

“We had lions, elephants, dinosaurs and pterodactyls moving around, roaring and attacking the train as it circled the loop. It was kind of like Jurassic Park,” Stratford said.

“My partner never finished it properly and we had a few breakdowns. It was difficult to run so we closed about five years later.

Since then, the attractions have been moved, sold or taken over by the rainforest.

One of the buildings that draws the most attention on Mr. Stratford’s estate is the former entrance to Adventure in Paradise.

Old ancient building in the rainforest with faux stone and turrets
What used to be Kuranda’s post office has been converted into the entrance to Adventure in Paradise(ABC Grand Nord: Phil Brandel)

The building, which looks like an old stone castle, can just be seen passing traffic on the Kennedy Highway in front of the bus depot.

“This is the old Kuranda post office, which was built in the 1940s. I bought the building and moved it here,” he said.

“The original building is old siding, but when we opened Adventure in Paradise the guy who made all the animals decided to make it look like an old stone building to fit what we were doing.

“When it was finished, it looked like real stone, but it was just sheets of fiberglass.”

Dug Stratford from a fake tree in the rainforest
Dug out Stratford of Kuranda past the old animatronic trees that would “fall” on the train that circled the property (ABC Grand Nord: Phil Brandel )

Now that Mr. Stratford is nearing retirement, he is hoping someone will reopen the park and restore it to its former glory.

“I have three daughters and they all live far away so I’m not sure what’s going to happen when I die,” he said.

“But I would love to see it reopen if I could find someone to hire it for me.”


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