The Day the Falls Stopped Flowing: Devastation and Resilience in Tropical Queensland



On 9 February 1946, a fifty-foot wall of water carrying huge cedar logs engulfed “the most interesting playground in Queensland”—Paronella Park—a Moorish Castle built in tropical rainforest on the banks of Mena Creek. A stormy sea of water tossed logs as if they were matchsticks and battered the castle. When the water dispersed the dream of Catalonian migrant José Paronella lay in ruins. Demonstrating the resilience needed in tropical Queensland, Paronella Park has risen from its ruins more than once and is today an award-winning tourist destination despite the floods and cyclones that regularly threaten it with destruction.

Author Biography

Bianka Vidonja Balanzategui, James Cook University

Bianka Vidonja Balanzategui is an independent scholar and historical consultant. Her scholarship foci are the Australian sugar industry and migration history, particularly of the experiences of Basques and post-WW 2 Displaced Persons. Her current research examines Australian sugar industry agricultural associations as conduits of collective action, and continues to explore the experiences of immigrants on the periphery. Her publications include Gentlemen of the Flashing Blade (JCU, Townsville, 1990) and “Basking in a Different Sun: The Story of Conchi Mendiolea”: chapter in Amatxi, Amuma, Amono: Writings in Honor of Basque Women, edited by Linda White and Cameron Watson (Centre for Basque Studies, Reno, 2003).

Photograph of yet another flood at Paronella Park. © Paronella Park Photograph Collection.