Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 3 North QLD - Paronella Park

paronella park sign

So after Lacey Creek, we took a 45 min drive up north to Paronella Park. Before I talk about that though, guess what we saw on our way out of Mission Beach???
A CASSOWARY! After all these signs teasing us with there presence, I finally got t see one. I have to say the sign lied, they are definitely not car size actually the one we saw wasn't even the size of an Emu.  Unfortunately we glimpsed the cassowary just as he finished crossing the road, so now photo evidence, you'll just have to believe me!

Anyhoo getting back to Paronella Park.  All I knew about Paronella Park was that it had Spanish castles and pretty gardens and that Ben was keen. Since it wasn't something I had planned nor really wanted to go to, my expectations were quietly low. I was expecting at best, a nice place to wonder around :) On arrival we were greeted by a lady at the door, from that moment on, there customer service was faultless! I was almost shocked at how welcomed we were made to feel, but not in a hideously fake or overwhelming way!

We were handed a paper fan and told it might get sticky in the gardens they also gave us fish food for feeding the fish and eels, which I thought was super cute :) We were then directed to a tour, which I was a bit eefy about but super glad I did, because it was on this tour that I feel in love with the place! This also started Ben and I's critique on the tour guide practice.   Jo our tour guide, actually won my award for best tour guide of the trip, she was natural and nice, entertaining and enthusiastic. She clearly loved the place and made me love it :)

So why is this place rad? Because of a man named Jose Paronella. His story is amazing and I don't want to ramble too much, but he basically had a dream to create a magical land and he made it come true :)

Jose Paronellla

He came over to Australia from Spain to make it big through cane farming with the hopes to then return to his love, Matilda in Spain and bring her back to Australia with him. He left it for too long and Matilda married someone else so he came back to Australia with her sister, Margarita and they started their family together building his dream of Paronella Park.  He was a baker in Spain, but clearly a clever man who ended up making his money to buy the Paronella Park land  through buying/selling cane properties.

margarita and jose
Margarita and Jose

the falls
The land he built on has this amazing waterfall and he was able to use hydro-electric power, way before it's time. With electricity came icecream! Which attracted people to Paronella park, plus all the other little rad activities he had going on, like tennis courts made from crushed termite mounds

The falls by Ben

ben swimming at the falls
It was the perfect place to go swimming and I could just imagine a boat passing by with a lady, umbrella in hand and a gentleman rowing the boat in his Sunday bests!

The castle
Jose made sure that with all the structures you could view the waterfall through them :) The castles being built in the early 20th century, have suffered through cyclones and neglect but in a way this makes them magical, falling down structures covered in moss and vines!

spanish castle

concrete pillar

vine

the fountain

the fountain - paronella park

the love tunnel

changing rooms

One of the building, the hall use to be a ballroom for dancing. Jose being a man of vision, purchased, at almost a third of the cost of building his castles, a disco ball. This glass mirror ball was one of only 3 in Australia and sadly got lost after fires and cyclone and floods devastated the building.  I'm not sure why I remembered such facts from the tour, but I guess I appreciated the magical vision he wanted to create!

He was also a lover of love and built "lovers lane" for couples to escape after their dance in the hall. He made it wide enough so two people could walk down hand in hand, making sure to fit those amazingly puffy ball gowns!

lovers lane sign

lovers lane

bamboo forest
There was  a magical bamboo forest

plant
beautiful gardens

flower

tree

fungi

fungi by Ben

flowers by Ben
grand staircase

leaf

lovers exit

Kauri Avenue
Kauri avenue, which also made sure you could see the waterfall at the end of

Kauri Avenue Ben

kauri avenue
Our tour ended there and Jo finished with saying that Jose passed away before all his dreams could be fufilled. I dunno what came over me but I could of burst into tears. I was so entranced by the story, in a way I was definitely not expecting!

fish

After the tour we fed some fish and the awesome eel who lives under a bridge in a rock, he only peeks his head out. Jo our tour guide told us there was also a turtle under the bridge but he rarely came out. When Ben and I went back without the rest of the tour peeps we saw the turtle...weeee!

No pic of the elusive turtle, but one of the lovely eel, they are fun to pat and we decided they would make for a great pet!
angus the eel
Such cute blue eyes!

teresa falls

One last cute story, there is another smaller fall on the property which Jose named after his daughter Teresa.   Jose being the entrepreneurial/scammer that he was, bottled the water and sold it to the tourist visiting the park as having special properties :) I love it

Ben at teresa falls
Jose definitely inspired me to live my life and follow my dreams!







9 comments:

  1. isn't Paronella Park the best??!! Went went there about 18 mths ago and I loved it sooo much, I'm glad you love it too!! we fed turtles in the creek thingy down the back past the bamboo and the fish near the waterfall, but didn't swim!!

    Katie

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  2. It's really cool! I was definitely not expecting it to be so rad :) We went back on the night tour and people asked the tour guide..."do people actually swim here, with the eels???" and the guide was like, they don't usually know there are so may eels in the day...he he he. If I would of known the amount of eels I might of thought twice about jumping in too...hehe he he

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  3. Hi Fee,

    Thank you for writing this beautiful blog about our Park! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed your time there so much. It certainly is something truly special! I would love to post a link to your blog on our Facebook page, if that's ok with you?

    :)

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  4. Colleen Watson1/20/2012 10:48 PM

    Thank you so much for your lovely story. It's been almost 12 years since I visited Paronella Park on Mothers' Day 2000 with my mother, daughter, son-in-law & grandchildren. The beautiful photos brought back many happy memories from that day. I had forgotten how lovely it was. Definitely a recommended place to visit when going to North Queensland.

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  5. Thanks Bridget, of course you can post the link :)

    Colleen..12 years wow, definitely is a place worth visiting!! :)

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  6. YOU SAW A CASSOWARY!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm jealous.

    The park is cool too. Last time when you were going out on that day trip to Green Island or something we drove inland and found this place but we were waaay to tight-ass to pay so we didn't go inside and now I'm a bit sad! I guess some touristy things are touristy for a good reason :) I have to keep remembering that

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  7. I had vague thoughts of you going! To be honest I wouldn't have paid either because you can see one of the castles and the river from the bridge and you can even going swimming in the river on the opposite side for free! But honestly by the end of the tour I felt so good about giving them my 30 or so bucks....doesn't happen often!

    You'll have to go back Emaya!

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  8. hahaha so funny because those were EXACTLY the same reasons that we didn't want to pay either! just took photos of the castle and went swimming in the river bahaha

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  9. lol
    and isn't it super nice that they could of blocked it all off, but they didn't, so you can still have a glimpse even if you can't afford it, super rad for a commercial operation.

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