Posted May 10, 2017
Paronella Park, in the heart of the Canecutter Way, is a Spanish Castle in a 5 Hectare garden beside Mena Creek Falls. It boasts a picnic area by the falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, hydro electric plant, and an amazing range of 7,500 tropical plants and trees (now a lush rainforest!). Paronella Park has received multiple Queensland tourism awards.
Built by Jose Paronella, a pastry chef from Barcelona, Paronella Park is the result of one man's dream and his tireless dedication to the task of making that dream a reality.
Construction began in 1929 with the Grand Staircase being built first to facilitate bringing the river sand up to the top level to make concrete.
According to Jose's grandson, Joe Paronella, the concrete was mixed in a machine made from a Model A Ford chassis, an old Mangle Washing Machine and a 44 Gallon Drum.
The Park was officially opened to the public in 1935 and became the social hub of the area with the theatre showing movies every Saturday night and hosting dances and parties with the canvas seats removed. Jose installed one of the first mirror balls in Australia - with over 1200 tiny mirrors.
During the 1960s, the movies stopped and the Hall became a popular wedding venue.
Most of the tropical plants Jose planted still survive in the park with the Kauri Pines towering over the avenue they form.
In 1993, the park was used in the filming of the movie Sniper - the "hotel in the jungle" is the change shed at the tennis courts - Mena Creek Falls and the Kauri Avenue also feature in the film.
Paronella Park is still a popular venue for weddings, wedding proposals, music video location and many other events.
May 2017 saw the beginnings of bringing music back to the park with a performance by Camerata - Queensland's Chamber Orchestra. The performance was simply superb - with the enthralled audience including Jose's grandson, Joe Paronella, the Mayor of the Tablelands Regional Council. The musicians were as amazed by the venue as the audience was by their performance - the first time they have played in a rainforest, in the rain...
Paronella Park has been voted as the RACQ #1 Must Do in Queensland for good reason - it is a magical place that will transport you to another time - be sure to include it in your Tropical Coast holliday plans.
Photo Courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland