Discover the Legacy of José Paronella at Paronella Park

Paronella Park

Step back in time and be captivated by the remarkable journey of José Paronella, the visionary behind Paronella Park. This enchanting destination celebrates the achievements of the Paronella family, especially its founder, José Paronella.

Upon arrival, embark on a captivating 30-minute storytelling tour, setting the stage for your visit. José’s story began in 1913, when he arrived in Australia from Catalonia, Spain. Over the next 11 years, he toiled in various jobs, from cutting sugar cane to buying and improving cane farms. In 1924, he returned to Spain, married Margarita in 1925, and embarked on their honeymoon to Australia.

A Visionary’s Journey

Mena Creek

José first laid eyes on the 13 acres of pristine bushland along Mena Creek in 1914, eventually purchasing it in 1929 for £120. This marked the beginning of his dream to create a pleasure garden and reception centre for the public.

Paronella Park

The journey commenced with constructing the Grand Staircase, which was designed to transport river sand for concrete. The park’s structures, except for the stone house, were crafted from poured, reinforced concrete using old railway tracks for reinforcement. The concrete was hand-plastered with clay and cement, leaving behind the indelible prints of dedicated workers.

An Immigrant’s Dream

Paronella Park

In 1935, Paronella Park officially opened to the public, featuring a theatre that screened movies and a hall perfect for dances and parties. A unique attraction was the myriad reflectors, adorned with 1270 tiny mirrors, creating a mesmerising snowflake effect. The theatre eventually transformed into a venue for functions, including weddings.

Paronella Park

The park also housed a projection room, the Paronella Museum, and lower refreshment rooms, where delicious meals were served. The lower tea gardens and swimming pool, surrounded by well-laid avenues and paths with distinctive planters, became popular attractions.

Paronella Park

José planted over 7,000 trees, including the magnificent Kauris along Kauri Avenue. A tunnel led to Teresa Falls, named after his daughter, while the creek featured cascades and bridges, creating a serene soundscape. A hydroelectric generating plant, commissioned in 1933, provided power to the entire park.

Paronella Park

In 1946, disaster struck when debris from upstream blocked the creek, causing extensive damage. Undeterred, the family rebuilt, and the park thrived once more.

José passed away in 1948, and Margarita and their children Teresa and Joe continued the legacy. In time, Joe married Val, and they had two sons, Joe (José) and Kerry. Renovations, maintenance, and floods posed challenges, but the family persevered.

Nature’s Fury

In 1977, the park fell into the family’s hands, and in 1979, a fire damaged the castle. Paronella Park faced further setbacks with Cyclone Winifred (1986), a flood (1994), Cyclone Larry (2006), and Cyclone Yasi (2011).

A New Era

1993, Mark and Judy Evans took over, embarking on a mission to restore and preserve the Park’s unique charm. Their dedication restored the park’s original hydroelectric system in 2009. Environmental initiatives earned Paronella Park the GECKO awardor for ecotourism in 2011.

Today, Paronella Park stands as a testament to the enduring vision of José Paronella, offering visitors a chance to explore its lush gardens, marvel at its architectural marvels, and immerse themselves in the park’s incredible story. From the fully restored 1930s hydroelectric generator to wildlife encounters and a delightful café, Paronella Park has something for everyone. Your visit promises fantastic photo opportunities, a remarkable journey through history, and cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

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