When I heard I could view an historical castle in North Queensland, I wanted to jump in the car and drive there; many a time this has been done. Over the past 20 years, I have taken family and guided friends towards seeing a unique tourist destination, Paronella Park, where one man’s dream became a reality. The people featured are my Brisbane family; my brother, his wife and their entourage – my nieces and nephews.
Man With A Vision
José Paronella had a vision. In his biography by Dena Leighton, it documents his struggles and achievements coming from a non-English speaking background: ‘cutting cane with his hands blistering…. hardening until they callused’. This has shown one man’s unwavering determination to succeed. I have heard the tour guide so often that I never tire of listening to his story. It’s inspiring.
As a young migrant and after experiencing countless hours of back breaking and physical hands-on work, he saved up enough to eventually secure ’13 acres of virgin scrub in 1914′. It was turned into a magnificent secluded park where many young defence personnel had a ‘leisure place’ during World War 2. It was also used for the making of the movie ‘Traps’ set in the Vietnam era. It was a place where memories were made and enjoying life was paramount.
Secluded and private, it is away from the outside word. Aptly name, Paronella Park, a place where José Paronella dreamed the dream; and many people shared it. And many will continue to share it.
Setbacks Lead To Rebuilding
Over the years, after many setbacks; fires, cyclones, I have seen the rebuilding process by determined and dedicated families. Throughout each setback, they have worked towards the restoration and continuation of José Paronella’s dream. Restoring it has become a way of life, set in the fabric of Mena Creek’s history. An extraordinary feat, achieved by an extraordinary man. What José Paronella achieved with his bare hands is beyond extraordinary. Also to those who have continued his legacy; you are extraordinary.
If you want to see something special: take the guided tour; ask many questions; be impressed with his incredible achievements; view his family history in the original cottage; walk in the lush rainforest, feed the turtles and fish, see the flowing creeks and the love tunnel.
After you have walked, and walked some more, enjoy morning tea, lunch or afternoon tea at their newly renovated tropical café and clean toilets. But put aside 2-4 hours to see this man’s dream. How you get there can be as easy as self-drive or tour.
I’m been at least five times over the past 20 years, but one day I will go and try out the night tours and stay over. I’ve heard good reports, so one day I will.
He Lived His Dream
“Everyone has a dream but not everyone’s dreams are fulfilled. José Paronella’s dream was to build a castle. He chose a special part of Australia and created Paronella Park. On 5 hectares (13 acres), beside Mena Creek Falls, he built his castle, picnic area by the falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, and wrapped it up in an amazing range of 7,500 tropical plants and trees (now a lush rainforest!). It opened to the public in 1935.”
I go there because I love it. It’s unique. It’s one man’s dream that became a reality. Everyone has dreams and I love it when dreams come true. I’m always inspired when I go there.
And lastly, he wanted to share it with us; so I’m happy to oblige.