The Cassowary Coast Paronella Park map
Paronella Park is not that easy to find but with this map finding it is so easy.
Paronella Park history;
The year is 1913 and José Paronella has justed arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain.
And for the next 11 years José Paronella worked as a sugar cane cutter, when he saved enough money he began to buying cane farms to improve and resell .
In 1924 he returned to Spain and married his sweet heart Margarita in 1925 and brought her back to Australia for their honeymoon.
In 1914 José Paronella found the 13 acres of virgin scrub along Mena Creek and eventually purchased it in 1929 for £120 and started to build his pleasure gardens and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.
The earliest building was the Grand Staircase, built to facilitate the carrying of the river sand to make the concrete.
First they built a small 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. The concrete was covered with a plaster made from clay and cement, which they put on by hand, leaving behind the prints of their fingers as a reminder of the work they had done.
They laboured with unswerving determination, until, in 1935, the Park was officially opened to the public. The Theatre showed movies every Saturday night. In addition, with canvas chairs removed, the Hall was a favourite venue for dances and parties.
A unique feature was the myriad reflector, a great ball covered with 1270 tiny mirrors, suspended from the ceiling. With spotlights of pink and blue shining on the reflector from the corners of the hall, it was rotated slowly, producing a coloured snowflake effect around the walls, floor and ceiling. During the mid-sixties the Theatre ceased to be, and the Hall became devoted to functions, particularly Weddings.
Above the Refreshment Rooms was the projection room, and up another flight of stairs was the Paronella Museum. This housed collections of coins, pistols, dolls, samples of North Queensland timbers and other items of interest.
Originally, food service was from the lower Refreshment Rooms downstairs.
The concrete slab tables forming the lower Tea Gardens and the swimming pool both proved extremely popular, as they still do today. The avenues and paths were well laid out with the familiar shaped planters which are still to be seen wherever you go in the Park. Two tennis courts were behind the Refreshment Rooms, with a children’s playground, 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, so the sound of water is always there. The Hydro Electric generating plant, commissioned in 1933, was the earliest in North Queensland, and supplied power to the entire Park.
In 1946, disaster struck. Upstream from the Park a patch of scrub had been cleared and the logs and branches pushed into the creek. When the first rains of the Wet Season came, the whole mass began to move downstream until it piled up against a railway bridge a few hundred metres from the Castle. Water backed up until the weight broke the bridge, and the entire mass descended on the Park. The downstairs Refreshment Rooms were all but destroyed, the Hydro was extensively damaged, as was the Theatre and Foyer.
Undaunted, the family began the task of rebuilding. The Refreshment Rooms downstairs were beyond repair, so this service was moved upstairs, and only the structure of the building recreated. In addition, José built the fountain. The Castle was repaired, the gardens replanted, and the Park was alive again.
In 1948, José Paronella died of cancer, leaving Margarita, daughter Teresa, and son Joe, to carry on.
Teresa eventually married and moved to Brisbane with her husband.
Joe got married in 1952 to Val and bore two sons, José and Kerry. Renovations and maintenance meant there was always plenty of work, and the floods of 1967, ’72 and ’74 further added to the load.
In 1967 Margarita died, and in 1972, Joe died, leaving Val and the two boys to continue the hard working tradition and keep the grand dad José Paronella dreams alive.
The Park was later sold in 1977 and sadly, in 1979, a fire swept through the Castle. For a time, the Park was closed to the public. Cyclone Winifred in 1986, a flood in January 1994, Cyclone Larry in March 2006, and Cyclone Yasi in January 2011 were all further setbacks and challenges for Paronella Park.