Table of contents:
- How a dreamer found himself a dreamer
- A magical land that only farmers knew about
- Co-authored with nature
Video: Abandoned Jungle Castle: How Two Dreamers Created a Magical Land for the Elite
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 13:10
No one is surprised to find an abandoned palace in the Indian jungle or an old temple in the jungle of Mesoamerica. However, stumbling upon a recognizably Spanish castle in the middle of the Australian jungle seems almost unrealistic. Spouses Mark and Judy Evans, nevertheless, accidentally went to the Spanish castle in the juggle, and soon learned that this castle is a local legend.
There are castles with sinister legends (and there seem to be most of these in the world), there are castles with historical ones, but a Spanish castle in the jungles of Queensland, a state in the northeast of the Australian continent, was a family legend, moreover, many families at once. Many owed him happy memories of childhood, first love, wedding vows or meeting their favorite movie.
Queensland in the early twentieth century, apart from the largest cities, was not the most comfortable place to live. That is, inside the house, everyone could arrange their own little paradise, but in many of its areas social life was limited to visiting a church - the beaches were unsafe, like the jungle, there were no theaters and cinemas outside the big cities. But agriculture developed - there were many sugar plantations. Initially, they worked for convicts, but in the early twentieth century, the labor force consisted of both the young sons of farmers and visitors from the Pacific Islands and from Europe.
One newcomer from Spain was named Jose Paronella. He was just going to get some money in order to marry the bride left in Spain and get his own farm. I must say, trying to save some money by chopping cane all day in the heat with a huge machete is not something that can be called an easy way, but Jose was an optimist. He spent his first earnings buying a run-down reed farm. Tidied it up, sold it and bought a bigger farm.
In eleven years of this business, he had accumulated enough money to build a house, and he knew exactly where he wanted to put this house. Locals would consider the idea crazy, but Jose fell in love with the waterfall on Cruel Creek (which is known in the world only thanks to the recently filmed thriller, but is unusually beautiful) and wanted to put the house right in the jungle. Despite all the living creatures that love to fly out and crawl out of dense thickets.
How a dreamer found himself a dreamer
Jose came to Spain and found that a lot had changed in Europe since 1913. Firstly, the World War began and ended there (then it did not yet have a serial number). Secondly, that his bride Matilda managed to fall in love, get married and give birth to children. Thirdly, that the funny girl Margarita, Matilda's younger sister, is far from a girl and, in addition, completely shares José's opinion about the jungle, crocodiles and snakes as something exciting. In general, Jose married Margarita and they left for Australia.
There they went to live in the jungle - Jose bought the site that struck him with its beauty. And in a few years, with the help of two pairs of hands, obtained from somewhere old railway rails (which served as reinforcement), a large amount of concrete, plaster and optimism, they built a real Spanish castle in the jungle.
It was not just a castle to stand in the thicket and surprise everyone. Jose himself built a hydroelectric power station on the stream and supplied electricity to it. José planted the land around the castle that had been plowed up during construction with wonderful Australian plants, and along the paths between trees, bushes and flowers one could go to a clean swimming pool (without any crocodiles), a tennis court (unprecedented entertainment in the Australian wilderness), a children's playground, a dance floor and cinema, for which Paronella bought films themselves. Throughout the park there were food stalls and gazebos for tea parties, and inside the castle you could visit a museum - it consisted of collections of various small things that can only be collected in the Australian jungle.
It was, to put it mildly, a business that was not expected and understood in this part of Queensland. What big companies arrange in big cities - but built by only two people, a man and a woman. Residents of the area, many of whom were farmers, went to see the opened amusement park purely out of curiosity - and gasped. For them, having fun with drinking or drinking tea, Paronella Park seemed like a fabulous country, in the center of which there was a real castle (more luxurious than which they had never seen).
A magical land that only farmers knew about
Paronella Park instantly became the center of social life. All the children in the neighborhood came and came here for the weekend - and, I must say, here their games were both more varied and safer. Here they made dates, celebrated weddings, held community meetings, and organized club meetings. The importance of a modest amusement park by today's standards, built where large companies did not visit, because they did not believe that there would be a serious benefit, cannot be overestimated for the lives of Queensland farmers.
The castle calmly survived the Second World War (like most of Australia), but in 1946 a storm threw several trunks into the stream, which overflowed the banks and not only the park's buildings were destroyed, but also the water power plant - by the way, the first in its region, so that many farmers first got acquainted with electricity in the castle of Paronella.
Jose and Margarita started building again. They repaired, rebuilt and transplanted, and after six months the inhabitants of the area again had somewhere to go for the weekend (and in the forties they still had little choice, frankly). To their delight, residents also discovered improvements there: new fountains, which are always useful in hot climates.
Alas, but two years after this triumphant victory over evil doom, Jose died of cancer. The park remained in the arms of his wife, son and daughter. It seemed that it would just be a family business for many years, but nature had its own ideas on this matter.
Over the next few years, the castle and the park were attacked one after another by floods and storms. The permanent restoration of what was destroyed has cost a lot of money. In 1977, Jose's grandchildren sold the park to another owner, but he was not happier than the previous ones: two years later, the castle was completely burnt out in a fire. Only the outer walls remained. The owners simply abandoned the devastated place, and the residents, who by that time already had alternatives for recreation, quickly forgot about it.
Co-authored with nature
In 1993, Mark and Judy Evans discovered a real Spanish castle in the thick of the jungle and were amazed. It could not be said which is more beautiful - this castle, the story of magic, which they created with their own hands for the families of the district of Jose and Margarita Paronella, or how the ruins merged with the jungle. They bought out the abandoned park and found the descendants of Jose and Margarita.
No, no one was going to put an amusement park again, it would be pointless - there were already a lot of parks all over Australia. Evans and Paronella repaired the old house and set up a museum for two dreamers from Spain, cleared paths, fortified the castle walls and erected six small huts for guests. Their goal was unusual: to preserve both Jose's work and the labor of nature, which was trying to turn this castle and park into a part of the jungle. In addition, they too had to face storms from time to time.
All this came in a huge amount, making those who heard about these works bewildered. But the work began to bear fruit - in particular, the park received several awards in the field of ecotourism. Yes, it became a place where they deliberately went to see how the jungle tried to eat the castle (well, and the castle itself, whose significance for the history of Queensland can hardly be overestimated). They say that it is most interesting to wander around the park at night, when it is very neatly and interestingly illuminated and night birds fly behind the lanterns in the darkness. During the day, you can feed the fish in the stream, take a picnic surrounded by wildlife and marvel at a Spanish castle in the heart of the Australian jungle.
Finding fragments of other people's family stories can be found not only in Australia. Vanishing Europe: Photos of abandoned mansions where life was in full swing until recently.