Spanish Dreams at Paronella Park - Tea Rooms

Vanessa Barklay

Ravenshoe, Australia

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Artist's Description

If you live in Far North Queensland you are probably familiar with Paronella Park and the dream…many Australians know the story of the amazing Jose Paronella and his quest to bring his native Catalonian castles to the tropics rainforest of Mena Creek, near Innisfail.
The ad says "the dream continues’….and it sure does. I have been wanting to visit Paronella Park for many years since my parents went there in 1997 and bought the book The Spanish Dreamer, a lot has changed since then but it is better than ever and being cared for by the Evans family to keep Jose Paronella’s dream alive!

It spurred my imagination and my heart and even when I moved up here I wanted to be somewhere close to it so I could visit often, it’s taken me a few years since I arrived in FNQ but finally my dream was realised on Christmas Eve…I went with my family and visiting parents who enjoyed it all over again and it was no disappointment. It was incredible, a man’s dream to build a wonderful entertainment park and grounds with castles built on designs he had studied as he travelled around the world getting inspiration for his own Paronella Park.

This was back in the 1930’s and Jose Paronella achieved heights hard to equal. Credit must be given to him and his Catalona spirit to have created this immense playground to be enjoyed by his Spanish wife and the friends he made while working his life in the harsh heat and rain of Innisfail in the cane fields.

Built up from scratch in virgin land Jose worked all day every day with crews of workers and helpers toiling hard to build his castles in the air, or rainforest I should say. The incredible effort these men must have worked under is a legend, Jose was ahead of his time, innovative and a very clever businessman. His hydro-electric pump was the first ever in Queensland and possibly Australia. He had hot water and electricity, in an area like Mena Creek this was pure luxury in the 1935 when he opened his park.

They had Saturday night novies, tennis courts, pavillions and turret topped towers, a Lover’s Lane, refreshment rooms, a ballroom with mirror balls and the beautiful Mena Creek Falls, Jose found another smaller waterfall on his land and named it Teresa Falls after his daughter. It was an amazing achievement for a man determined to come to Australia, be an Australian and remember his heritage with castles…in the rainforest.

Paronella Park is just out of Innisfail, south to Mena Creek, a wonderment of architectural achievment in an unforgiving, dangerous, hot, wet and unpredictable environment…in 1946 a torrent of flood came down Mena Creek bringing logs with it and it crashed into Paronella Park like Armageddon unleashed for Jose…he watched as his dream broke up into pieces and got washed down the river…a tragedy that he never recovered from. Jose didn’t give up, he rebuilt most of it but the tea rooms and other areas had damage that over time has left them crumbling under the sun.

Jose died in 1948, he had built his dream, given the area hydro-electricity and built something like no other in Australia that people of the time flocked to, just like today, the tourists and visitors that come into Paronella Park each day help continue Jose’s dream. I was happy to be one them.

This picture is of the Tea Room area that has been restored as is, these were hardest hit in the flood of 1946 that wiped Jose’s dream out…
Lots more pics of Paronella Park available.

These are not for sale, apparently there is a fee I should have paid to sell any photos I took there.

Artwork Comments

  • Kim McClain Gregal
  • Vanessa Barklay
  • Darren Stones
  • Vanessa Barklay
  • MerrilynHunt
  • Vanessa Barklay
  • EarthGipsy
  • Vanessa Barklay
  • Caroline Angell
  • Vanessa Barklay
  • Vanessa Barklay
  • Vanessa Barklay
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