Around 1913, an ambitious Spaniard, José Paronella, sailed to Far North Queensland searching for a better life. Well over 100 years before an arrogant army of geriatric POMs decided that Earl Grey Tea, Big Ears & Co were more relevant than relationships with Europe. Maybe he was psychic and hopped onto a boat to the other side of the world.
He left his future wife at home, planning to accrue a large enough pile of cash to set themselves up. 13 years later, mission accomplished, he popped back to Spain to fetch the Mrs. Sadly for José, the future Mrs Paronella had got the shits. Apparently, she waited 10 years without a word so decided to make paella with some other chap. All was not lost, José hooks up with her younger sister and heads back to Oz to build his dream.
Although José’s letter writing skills were somewhat lacking, his vision and imagination were off the scale. Building his own castle next to a waterfall, planting about 7000 trees including avenues of Kauris, secret gardens through underground tunnels, entertainment areas, a cinema, ballroom and tennis court. The bloke also worked out in the 1930’s that hydroelectric power might be a good idea. Building his own system to power the property and feed electricity back to the local town. Maybe some of the imbeciles that we have in various levels of government could take a page out of his book rather than focus purely on subsidies for wind and solar, just a thought.
Sadly, the place was delivered a bit of a monstering from Mother Nature. Cyclones and floods took their toll. A large kitchen fire probably didn’t help and José met his maker in 1948. Fast forward 75 years and Paronella Park is heritage listed under new custodians reviving Paronella’s dream. Lots of work to be done here but difficult not to get swept up in the passion of owners past and present. Wished Mark all the best and continued on with our own dream.