After two short days it was time to leave what would almost certainly be the poshest caravan park of our Lap. We enjoyed quick visits to the very picturesque ‘Boulders’ and ‘Josephine Falls’ en-route. It was obvious that both these waterways must receive a lot of water frequently to wear these beautiful patterns in the granite. Kris was very excited to spot the famous Ulysses butterfly out it in the wild with quite a few fluttering around the Boulders.
The Boulders – treacherous but beautiful.
No shortage of safety signs – I guess they mean it…
Just a short drive further on took us off the Bruce Highway to Paronella Park. These are the decayed remnants of Jose Paronella’s attempt in the 1930’s to recreate a Spanish style water fountain park, not unlike the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain.
Poor old Jose checked out from stomach cancer at just 60 with obviously a lot still left to do. His family had a crack at running the park as a function centre after his death but when his son died early from heart disease it was sold on. The new owners had it for under two years before a serious fire ‘possibly’ caused by the thought of a large insurance payout, ravaged the ball room slash movie theatre in 1979. The park closed after this, and it was left empty to decay and crumble even further for the next 24 years. In 1993, the present owners, who were themselves mid ‘Big Lap’ with their own family, stumbled on it at a fire-sale price, and the rest, as they say, is history.
You can only marvel at the astonishing drive and determination of Jose in the 1930’s. A self-made migrant who worked extremely hard and took opportunities others rejected to make his money in sugar cane before starting his ambitious park. By 1933, the park had hydro-electric power, an ice cream machine, a movie theatre, water pumps, lights and hot water fifteen years before the rest of the area even had electricity.
Despite two recent cyclones that ravaged the park, the current owner, Mark, has done a fantastic job in reinvigorating the tourist potential of the place, and even has plans to rebuild the old ball room just as it was in its hey-day. Today, for $120, you get family entry, guided day and night time tours, fish and turtle feeding, a caravan site, and a visit to the recently rebuilt hydro-electric generator station. I couldn’t help myself here. After looking at the hydro setup, I met with the owner and gave him some freebie consulting advice on how to maximise his dry-season power generation potential.
Mena Creek falls – apparently the location for the 1980’s Solo Man add.