Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Paronella Park

So this was different!  One photo in a guidebook was enough for me to know that we should stop by Paronella Park for a tour.  A castle in the middle of Queensland?  Sure, why not!  And that's basically how José Paronella approached it in the 1930's.  He came from Catalonia, made some money in cane field real estate, and decided to build a park and castle in the Spanish style.  There was more drama, a woman in Spain who had promised to marry him but who gave up waiting for him after not hearing from him for years - so he married her sister instead.  Floods and fires that required rebuilding.  Disrepair in later years and the eventual sale of the property.  And now another couple owns it - they had been looking for something new and interesting to focus their energy on, and what a perfect place for them!  They have revived José's dream and it sure is something to see.

We even got a free night camping there with our entry tickets, what a deal.  3 tours, unlimited wandering of the grounds, and an overnight camp spot; we got the full meal deal and it was more than worth it.

The main part of the castle, where the fire happened in 1979.  Still so unique, and hopefully it will eventually be restored, at least the ballroom which must have been amazing:

The daytime tour was a lovely walk around the grounds, learning the history and many stories.  Fun paths through the trees:

They grew many interesting plants, including this curious tree:

Strolling through the bamboo:

The cozy waterfall where you can sit beside the stream:

Hard to see, but there were a bunch of bats hanging around above the path:

Somewhat easier to see the bats in this little video:

The entrance to the "Tunnel of Love" which is now a place for bats to roost:

A giant spider turned out to be one of the main stars of the tour:

Gorgeous Kauri trees along one of the paths:

A hidden building being taken over by the jungle:

Lovely fountains and lawn:

Mena Creek Falls, a wonderful neighbor for the castle (except for the flooding part):

The refreshment rooms building alongside the lawn, architecture I would not have expected in Australia (and a popular wedding spot):

Occasionally our little camera captures a pretty decent photo:

Heading up the grand staircase:

1945 flood marker, wow, that was a lot of water:

Mena Creek Falls from another angle:

Little bit of Australian wildlife:

Love the fun walkways and railings:

Checking out the castle from the bridge over the falls:

Fun suspension bridge over the falls:

Tour #2 was of the hydroelectric plant, built in 1933 for North Queensland's first water-generated electricity:

The turbine was removed and overhauled in 2009 to return it close to its original state, a whole 'nother interesting story in itself.  It now powers the whole park again.  John checking out the intake, and that's quite a lot of blue for one picture:

Tour #3 was at night, a neat opportunity to see everything lit up:

The bridge and waterfall:

A wonderful way to end a wonderful day at Paronella!  Highly recommend  :)

Post a Comment