Paronella Park / by Ethan Astall

Paronaella park phwoorrr where to start. We stayed one night and it cost us $48 but this included a day and night tour of the park, your own walk about of the gardens, a powered site and hot showers PLUS a two year pass to come back with free entry and one nights stay, laughin.

This place is something out of a fairy tale and home to some absolutely ridiculous plants and trees all with some crazy history attached.

So the short history is, A bloke named Jose’ Paronella jumps on a boat in Spain year 1913 heading for Australia. When he arrives he gets a job cutting sugar cane (classic North Queensland means of a job even back then) he does this for 11 years, owning and selling his sugar Cain properties making a profit as he goes. In 1924 he returned to Spain to marry his gf he had left behind but she had sadly moved on. SO he married her sister instead and brought her back to Australia for their honey moon


José first saw the 13 acres of scrub land along Mena Creek where Paronella park is today in 1914. He eventually purchased it in 1929 for £120 and started to build mass gardens and a reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.
The first structure was the Grand Staircase, it was built to facilitate the carrying of the river sand to make the concrete, to build the various castles.

First they built a house to live in, then they started on the Castle itself. Apart from the house, which is made of stone, all of the structures were constructed of poured, reinforced concrete, the reinforcing being old railway track from around the area, plenty of it with cane train railway around. The concrete was covered with a plaster made from clay and cement, which they put on by hand, They laboured with determination, until, in 1935, the Park was officially opened to the public. The Theatre showed movies every Saturday night. In addition when removing the chairs, the Hall was a favourite venue for dances and parties.

The concrete slab tables forming the lower Tea Gardens and the swimming pool both proved extremely popular, whilst viewing the waterfall. The avenues and paths were well laid out with the familiar shaped planters (500 all hand made) . Two tennis courts, with a children's playground were in the Meadow, situated near the creek.
Upwards of 7000 trees were planted by José. These included the magnificent Kauris lining Kauri Avenue. A Tunnel was excavated through a small hill. Above its entrances are the delightful stonework balconies. Walking through here brings you to spring fed Teresa Falls, named for his daughter.

The creek is lined with rocks and traversed by small bridges. Some parts have cascades built out of rocks, some bearing home to turtles and eels which we attempted to catch. The Hydro Electric generating plant, commissioned in 1933, was the earliest in North Queensland, and supplied power to the entire Park.

In November 2009, the ambitious project to restore Paronella Park's original (1930s era) hydro electric system was completed. At a cost of $450,000, the system once again provides all of the Park's electricity requirements.