Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Tropical Dreaming; from the Discovery of a {Lsquo}lost World' to Uncovering the Gems of the Rainforest, Cairns and Its Surrounds Hold Many Still to Be Discovered Secrets, as Julie McGlone Finds Out

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Tropical Dreaming; from the Discovery of a {Lsquo}lost World' to Uncovering the Gems of the Rainforest, Cairns and Its Surrounds Hold Many Still to Be Discovered Secrets, as Julie McGlone Finds Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Julie McGlone

HIDDEN away in a rainforest garden on the lush Atherton Tablelands, a crumbling set of ruins sits like a lost world, a moss covered memory of a man's incredible dream.

Paronella Park is a place of romance and a tribute to the resilience and determination of the human spirit.

It is a place where dreams are created and anything is possible.

I'd heard a lot about this place; it's been voted in the RACQ's Top 150 tourist attractions, it's a Queensland Tourism Award Winner, it's eco certified and heritage listed.

Yet no matter how many people I've asked to explain it to me, the answer was always a vague, "Oh, it's amazing - you really can't describe it."

What was it about this place? What was all the fuss about?

Well, now I know - Paronella Park really does need to be seen, or more so experienced, for certainly this is a sensual journey.

To give a brief background, a Spaniard named Jose Paronella arrived in Innisfail in 1913 from Catalonia to make his fortune in the cane fields.

His plan was to set up house and return for his fiance, Matilda, whom he'd left behind.

Jose worked hard as a cane cutter, but soon found a way to make his earnings grow.

The government of the day was offering old cane farms for sale at bargain basement prices.

Jose bought, improved and sold a series of farms, making him one of the earliest property kings.

While travelling, he found his dream land at Mena Creek Falls.

His vision, to turn it into a haven of European style, was now firmly set.

He returned to Spain to collect Matilda, the fiance he'd left behind, but he'd neglected one small detail - he hadn't written to her in the 13 years he'd been gone and Matilda had given up and married another.

Not to be outdone, Jose courted and married Matilda's younger sister Margarita.

They returned to Mena Creek in 1929 and Jose set about his task - building a 'mini-city' of style and charm.

Jose hand built the entire complex - the main cottage, the 'castle', the grand staircase which led to the complex gardens and waterfall-side dining area. …

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