The legacy of a young mans Dream in the early 1900’s continues today.
Jose Paronella, a young man from Catalonia in Northern Spain arrived in Australia in 1913 to plan a splendid life for he and his fiancee – Matilda. Jose worked hard and created his wealth by buying, improving and selling cane farms. It was during those years that he discovered the Menna Creek Falls in North Queensland near Innisfail. The virgin scrub forest adjoining the falls appeared to be perfect for his dream to build a castle and a good life for his betrothed here in Australia.
After spending about 11 years in Australia he returned to Spain to find that his fiancee had married. Jose was determined to return to Australia with a wife, so he proposed to Matilda’s younger sister Margarita and one year later the happily married couple were on a ship bound for Australia.
Paronella Park, set on 13 acres of virgin scrub was established in 1930’s by Jose Paronella. Jose purchased the land adjacent to the Meena Creek Falls in 1929 and set about creating his DREAMS. The first stage was to build a home for his newly wedded wife. Jose and his work crew set about a constructing a cottage hand crafted from stone and they moved in Christmas Eve.
But Jose’s dream was inspired by memories of Catalonian Castles so he and his work crew set about creating an entertainment area. He endured many obstacles and skeptics during the transformation of his property. Some of his achievements though are quite incredible. He had to build a staircase comprising 47 steps so that he and his work team could transport building and construction materials to the lower levels.
He was the first person to have electricity on their property in this rural area. Picture this, it is 1933 and this young Spanish man says that he wants to generate electricity from the flowing waters of Meena Creek and his beloved falls. Of course people told he it couldn’t be done etc. He was not put off by all the naysayers and finds and imports a turbine and generator from England. Here it is 1933 and he has power at his rural property, everyone else is probably running diesel, kerosene or some other form of energy . It is not until the 1960’s that commercial power is actually brought to this area. Believe it or not but it is still producing power today. The turbine has been refurbished (In Germany) and recommissioned in consultation with the local energy retailer (Ergon Energy).
It was producing 8kva when we visited 2016 but is capable of more.