Aborigines aside, Australia is a relatively young country. This, combined with a long history of migration has established a fairly multicultural society in Australia, with many individuals bringing parts of their history and culture, varying from foods and languages to traditional celebrations, with them and incorporating them in to their new lives down under.
As a result threads of different cultures can often be found, providing a diverse, and often eclectic, variety of places to explore. Paronella Park is just such a place.
Originally constructed by an eccentric but passionate, and clearly determined Spaniard, Paronella Park was the dream of Jose Paronella, who arrived in nearby Innisfail in 1913.
One man's dream
Having brought his (presumably equally adventurous) wife to Australia from Spain, Jose and his bride bought the 13-acre plot by Mena Creek and started turning it into their own private paradise.
|The Grand Staircase, Paronella Park, Queensland, Australia|
The property features the cottage they originally lived in, the castle, a grand staircase down to the lake, North Queensland’s first hydroelectric plant that provided them with electricity, tennis courts, fountains, a tunnel, and acres of beautifully landscaped gardens featuring over 7,000 trees. Not a bad effort for a Spanish pastry chef!
|Paronella Park Castle, Queensland, Australia|
The family initially lived in the hand-built stone cottage that now houses a small museum collection but, on completion of their castle, they opened their home to friends and family, often hosting large groups to watch movies, swim in the lake, play tennis and party in the grand ballroom. It must have been quite a place in its heyday.
|Paronella Park Cottage, Queensland, Australia|
The gardens and critters
There are many adventures to be had among the 70 different flora species in the gardens, such as looking out for bats in the tunnel and observing turtles nesting on the creek, making it a great place to bring little explorers.
Other animals visitors are likely to encounter include the characterful Australian Brush Turkey, bright blue Ulysees Butterfly, Northern Bandicoot, Green Tree Snakes, Sunbirds and Spectacled Flying Foxes.
|Paronella Park gardens, Queensland, Australia|
The park is certainly unique, and it is quite incredible how much Jose Paronella and his family achieved, remembering construction took place between 1929 and 1935. After Jose’s death, the family sold the property, having run into trouble meeting the maintenance costs.
Much of the castle is in ruins now, following a fire and two cyclones, but the cottage and gardens survived well, and care is being taken to maintain the heritage-listed property true to its original design.
If you want to see where passion can take you, a trip to Paronella Park will make an interesting stop on your next trip to Far North Queensland.