Australia: Paronella Park

Just because we are back from Australia doesn’t mean I don’t have more adventures to share! :)
So, you may recall, but after one goes diving, they have to wait 24 hours before flying.
We needed something to do while waiting over the weekend, so we drove up to a place called Paronella Park.
Paronella Park was built by one man. His name was Jose. He bought this land, and had a vision of pleasure gardens and buildings for public enjoyment. In 1929, he purchased the land, and worked nonstop everyday until 1935. Jose’ had made his fortune in sugar cane, so he was able to build off of what he had made in the past.

Every building was hand-made by Jose’. He mixed his own cement, and used train rails to provide the structure. The walls he smoothed with his hands. They have his finger trails and prints all in them.

While there are many smaller buildings around the park, the largest and grandest by far, is the Central Hall. Here guests were entertained with movies every friday evening, dances, social receptions, and more.

The upper room of the Central Hall

Here is the back view of the Hall. You can see there is a main floor, and then the smaller upper level

The Ballroom
The Ballroom of the Central Hall was where all the cool stuff happened.  There used to be a ceiling, where a large disco ball, also made by Jose, was lowered. People danced, watched movies, or listend to music in this area. In the 1960s, it was converted into a place where ceremonies were held, the majority of them being weddings.
At the foot of the Grand Staircase
Jose made much more than just one building. He also made a “Grand Staircase” That led people down to the stream and the tennis courts.
The Observation building of the Tennis grounds.
Another main attraction of the park, were the tennis grounds and the surrounding buildings. It provided the perfect place for casual conversation and socializing, but also enough room to do as you please.
Changing rooms for Tennis and the pool on both sides of the observation building.
Gravity Fed Fountain
For Jose not to have a shred of architectural training, he made some pretty cool stuff. Take this fountain for instance. Unlike most fountains, it is powered by the waterfall nearby. Since it is lower than the falls, the pressure from the water forces the water through small pipes, and into the air. In other words… gravity fed.
Another building where people can stand, talk, and enjoy the garden.
A side observation deck for the Tennis court.

While the buildings Jose constructed were amazing, even moreso, are the gardens he created. The majority of the plants in these pictures were planted by the man. He had hundreds of plants brought in, most not even native species. A walk in this park is something truly memorable.

A spring fed creek, providing clean drinkable water.

Jose was a bit of a romantic, so, he built all paths just wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side. For his wife, he made “Lover’s Lane”. It was a path that led to the tunnel of love.

The Cave- erm. Tunnel of love.
In addition to being a farmer, builder, and businessman. Jose was an entrepreneur. He had to dig out tons of dirt for paths, cement, etc. There was a hill that was made of red clay, so he dug all the way through it getting dirt.
   Later, he decided to make some money off of this… hole in the hill, and call it “The Tunnel of Love” It is dark, damp, and full of spiders. And bats. I fail to see the appeal.
The main residents of the tunnel of love. Tiny little bats.
Even the picnic tables he made by hand.

Something else to note, is Jose powered the entire park by a homemade Hydro-Electric system. It was the first in Queensland. It still powers the park today.

The Falls that power the plant.

It was truly a peaceful, and beautiful place. The ruins were impressive, so I can’t even imagine what they must have looked like in their non-ruinous condition.

“But Austin!” You say, “These buildings are only a couple decades old!!”
Very true, let me complete the story for you. :)
In 1946, the rain seasons came. Water built up against a railway bridge upstream. Being clogged with trees and brush, it piled up more and more until the entire bridge broke. All the debris and water rushed downstream and destroyed the majority of the central hall main room.
Jose, and his children now, worked to rebuild, but he died of cancer in 1948. His children continued to rebuild and maintain, until more floods hit in 67′, 72′, and 74′. They kept working to keep it going until 1977, when they sold it.
What really destroyed the buildings however, was a fire that tore through the park in 1979. It destroyed much of the great hall, and other things. Still today, more cyclones and floods hit the park, further battering the already crumbling structures. It is now marked as a national trust, and there is a full time staff dedicated to preserving the buildings as art.

Sunset on the sugar cane valley.

Driving home that evening, after hearing about how a man’s life work was mostly destroyed in a matter years… brought this verse to mind.

Mathew 6:19-21
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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