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Paronella Park hydro-electric power station.  

I first visited Paronella Park in 2006, and went back in 2008, its a truly amazing place. Paronella park is about 20km from Innisfail, on the north eastern Queensland Australia coast.

Jose Paronella migrated to Australia from Spain in 1913, and spent his first few years in this country cutting sugar cane. Jose saved his money and bought, improved and sold cane farms. In 1914 Jose purchased 13 acres at Mena Creek falls for £120. He spend the next couple of decades building a reception centre, ball room and theatre, gardens and picnic area for the public. The hydro power plant was commissioned in 1933, and is recognised as the first hydro power plant in northern queensland.

In 1946 flash flooding damaged the hydro station and many of the buildings, but these were rebuild. In 1948 Jose passed away due to cancer, the family kept the park operational until it was sold in 1977. In 1979 fire destroyed most of the buildings, the park was closed to the public and soon disappeared into the rain forest.

In 1993 the current owners Mark and Judy Evans bought the park and started restorations. They have managed to keep the parks unique look of "growing out of the rain forest".

When I visited Paronella Park in 2006, I had a chance to look at the hydro power station. Its located in a small room to one side of the waterfalls, and had not worked for many decades, but I could turn the turbine shaft and recognised most of the parts still there.

Thanks to public interest and donations, in 2008 restoration work started. The Boving & Co London Francis Bulb turbine was removed by crane and sent to Germany for repair. A new impeller was fabricated and the completed turbine returned to Australia. A new 25kW alternator was fitted to the turbine, and is now producing more than enough power to supply the park, adjoining caravan park, and feed excess power back into the local power grid.

Below are some picture and links. If you're ever in north east Queensland Australia, I highly recommend spending a day at Paronella Park. They have tours several times a day, where you can find out more about Jose's amazing life, the history of Paronella Park, and even how the local aboriginal people used the native plants and trees.

Links Video

Part of the ball room and picture theatre

Change rooms and fountain.

Looking down from top of waterfall.
You can see the hydro power room bottom left

Picnic area at bottom of falls

Looking from picnic area towards falls and hydro power room

Inside the hydro power room, 2006.

The turbine before installation in 1933. Image courtesy of http://www.paronellapark.com.au

And the restored turbine today. Image courtesy of http://www.paronellapark.com.au
© TheBackShed 2011