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Paronella Park - Far North QLD

The story of a Spaniard's Dream...
"Why do I do it, people ask. It is because I wish to do something. I make my money in sugar industry and in selling farms. I have travelled the world twice and never have I seen anything as beautiful as places you have in Queensland. People smile and say Paronella, he is mad! Stupid! To work as hard and to spend so much money in this way! Why does he not sit down and rest? That is not my way."
Jose Paronella's dream was to build a castle. He chose a special part of Australia and created Paronella Park. On 13 acres beside Mena Creek Falls
he built his castle, picnic areas at the lakeside,
tennis courts, tunnels and bridges,
and wrapped it up in an amazing range of 7,000 tropical trees and plants.
Including the Bamboo Forest
This concrete bridge is one of 8 bridges, to span Teresa Creek and Is regularly covered by flood waters during the wet season.

Jose Paronella arrived in nearby Innisfail in 1913, having sailed from Catalonia in northern Spain to plan a splendid life for himself and his fiancé Matilda. Jose worked hard for 11 years, creating his wealth by buying, improving and selling cane farms. While traveling though the beautiful countryside he discovered a virgin forest alongside spectacular Men Creek Falls - perfect for his dream.
Today there are plenty of fish waiting to be fed
and turtles compete with eels further upstream for a little food

Upon returning to Spain, Jose discovered that Matilda had married another! Hardly surprising as he had not sent a single letter in the 11 years he had been away! Determined to sail back to Australia with a bride Jose proposed to Margarita, Matilda's younger sister. One year later the happy newlyweds were ship bound for Australia and by 1929 had purchased the land of Jose's dreams.

He first built the grand 47-step Grand Staircase to shift building materials between the lower and upper level.
Here the fun-loving couple had their cottage hand built of stone, and moved in on Christmas eve.

Inspired by childhood memories of Catalonian castles Jose and his work crew set to work designing an entertainment area. Their fingerprints in the cement foundations remain as a testament to their extraordinary effort that guaranteed joyous times.
A movie theatre transformed on weekends into a hug ballroom with live bands who entertained while a massive ball of mirrors spun from the ceiling to reflect a dazzle of pink and blue lights. Jose paid around £140 for the property, and yet paid £80 for the glitter ball, something quite extraordinary at that time
Surrounding their home and castle, more than 7,000 trees were planted including an avenue of Kauri Pines that now tower like a cathedral spires in a sacred forest

The Paronella's invited everyone to movies on Saturday nights, built tennis courts from crushed termite mounds
and a pavilion
with a beautiful fountain at the front
and I love the way, as with most of the park, nature has almost taken over
with turret topped balconies,
refreshment rooms
and changing cubicles for swimmers
with a separate toilet block nearby

Unexpectedly the tale of Paronella Park took swift and dangerous turns starting in 1946 when a mass of logs from a clearing upstream swept away a railway bridge and descended on the Park, destroying the refreshment rooms.
This was the height of the flood at that time
Undaunted the Paronella's replanted the gardens, repaired what they could, and re-opened for business 6 months later.
Today it is used as a backdrop for weddings & the stage for live theatre

In 1979 a fire swept through the Castle leaving only the walls and the Turret as a reminder of what had been.

"There is a special thrill awaiting those who know how to paddle a boat and wish to venture under the roaring falls.
If you brave the shower of spray near the edge you will find yourself in a cavern with water dripping from the fern and lichen-covered roof, and a lacy torrent screening out the sun".

The swimming hole is teeming with jungle perch and black bream

"Jose says he has tasted famous mineral waters of Spain, France and Italy, and this is superior to the all. He is having it analysed to determine its medicinal value and once that is established he will explore commercial possibilities."

"Down winding steps beside the falls he takes a visitor to his engine room and the dynamo he has had installed to generate power for all the needs of his castle and grounds.
The building of the room and the stairs at the face of a sheer cliff is itself an engineering achievement, he is an engineer, architect, builder and everything else in one."

2009 saw the refurbishment of the original hydro turbine which once again provides power for the entire park.

"The most astounding work is his cutting of a tunnel through a hill to save people the trouble of climbing round it to reach the miniature waterfalls which he has named after his daughter Teresa.
Built in 1930 a cut was dug open, the tunnel constructed and then covered over.
The tunnel, which has a richly ornamental entrance, is so dark that one cannot distinguish the walls, but by the light of a match it is possible to discern the apertures where he proposes to install museum objects. The tunnel, like the grounds will be lit by electricity , and when the scheme is completed an independent telephone system will be installed to connect points throughout the park."

The original plan was to incorporate aquariums but was abandoned due to seepage and floods 1.88m high.

In 1988 (bicentennial year) the suspension bridge was built crossing the top of the falls
It gives great views back to Paronella Park
and the picnic area

At the entrance to the park I was enchanted by this Honeyeater's nest
and with a bit of patience, I was able to watch the parent fly in
to feed the chick

Posted by charlystyles 13:26 Archived in Australia Tagged paronella_park Comments (0)

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