There were so many people we met on our travels who said “you must go to Paronella Park“, so we did. What a great spot with so much history.
Located on Mena Creek (maplink) it was originally opened in 1935 by José Paronella whose dream was to build castle, a picnic area by the Mena Creek Falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, and wrapped it up in an amazing range of 7,500 tropical plants and trees. He even harnessed the waterfall for his electricity by building Australia’s 2nd hydro electric system in 1933.
A brief history
José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain, in 1913. For the next 11 years he worked, cutting sugar cane initially, then purchasing, improving, and reselling cane farms. In 1924 he returned to Spain and married Margarita in 1925. The trip back to Australia was their honeymoon.
José first saw this 13 acres of virgin scrub along Mena Creek in 1914. He 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 structure, the Grand Staircase, was built to facilitate the carrying of the river sand to make the concrete.
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. 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.
Staying at Paronella
We camped in the “Paddock” behind the Mena creek Hotel and had a short walk over the road to the park. Plenty of room with power provided but using our own water (from our van’s tanks).
After checking in to the park we drove down to Etty Beach to see if we could spot our first cassowary. With none on the beach (where they are supposed to be) we found one on the drive out LOL.
Night tour and light-show
Our 1st experience was the night-time light-show which was really impressive.
This is the best part of visiting Paronella Park. The tour takes you through the park and our guide provided an extensive overview of it’s history and how much effort José Paronella put into developing his dream.
They also told us the number of times the park was devastated by cyclones and wild weather and how it was lovingly rebuilt.