On February 26, 1887, on this day, José Pedro Enrique Paronella was born in La Vall de Santa Creu, in the province of Gerona, Spain.
In 1913 José emigrated to Australia. For 11 years he worked hard, first cutting sugar cane and later buying and reselling cane farms. A year after arriving in that country, he discovered a place of virgin forest with a beautiful waterfall in Mena Creek, in Queensland. That site would be chosen for a very curious architectural adventure that he would begin years later.
In 1924, José returned to Spain and discovered that his girlfriend, Matilda, had married another man. The protagonist of this story was not willing to return to Australia alone, so in 1925 he ended up getting married with Margarita, Matilda's younger sister. His honeymoon was a return trip to Australia.
Once back in the oceanic country, in 1929, José bought that paradisiacal place of 13 acres (more than 5 hectares) in Mena Creek for 120 pounds. From then on he began an ambitious work with the in order to create gardens and a visitor reception center. The first thing he built there was his home, a stone house , which they were able to open on Christmas Eve.
The next chapter of José's Australian dream was to build a castle. He was inspired by his childhood memories of castles in Catalonia. José's castle was built by hand by him and the workers who helped him in this incredible work. It was built with concrete, using old train tracks as reinforcement, and then covered with cement and clay plaster. An amazing handiwork that can still be seen today, as Joseph's finger prints were left in the cement.
This colossal work also included the planting of more than 7,000 trees around the house and the castle, including an avenue formed by kauris, a typical tree of the North Island of New Zealand. This magical place also included north Queensland's first hydroelectric plant, as well as a cinema inside the castle, which could be converted into a ballroom.
The castle of Paronella finally opened its doors to the public in 1935, with the official name of Kiosk Paronella Park Innisfail. In 1946, some logs coming down a river destroyed a railway bridge and ended up damaging the dining rooms and gardens of the Paronella castle. It took six months of work to repair the damage. On August 23, 1948, José Paronella passed away. His family and his descendants continued to run the castle until it was sold in 1977.
The castle's current owners, Mark and Judy Evans, bought it in 1993 for the purpose of bringing it to life. The original Paronella home has been converted into a museum. Today, this beautiful castle and its gardens are listed as a historic site in Australia.
Today, the kauris planted by José Paronella rise like tall towers, keeping aloft the memory of a Spanish emigrant who dreamed of building a castle in Australia.
Paronella Park is currently one of the great tourist attractions in Australia. You can visit their official website here. And here you can see a video about Paronella Park Paronella and its gardens, posted on the Paronella Park Youtube channel:
Photos: Panorella Park.
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