Get historical during the holidays and see you again on the 8 January 2019!
Irvinebank, near Mareeba, is west of Cairns on the Atherton Tableland. Once a rich mining town, it is now virtually abandoned. Established in 1884, it yielded tin until about 1900. Many of the buildings in the town are heritage-listed.
At a time when gold was the glamour industry of the region, mining magnate John Moffat concentrated his investments in base metals, notably tin and copper. He built a battery and smelter at Irvinebank, and lived in the town from 1883. An estimated 10,200 tons of mineral was exported from Irvinebank over its 40-year life. When metal prices fell in 1907, the decline of Moffat’s empire began. Moffat retired in 1912, and died in Toowoomba in 1920.
The State Government purchased the Irvinebank works in 1919, for use as a State treatment works for local ore. It operates as a museum today and is significant for its ability to demonstrate the range of processes and technologies used at the mill over more than a century.
Spanish immigrant, Jose Paronella, came to North Queensland in 1913 to work as a cane-cutter. In 1924 he returned to Spain, married Margarita and brought her back to see the piece of tropical scrub that he was intent on buying. His dream was to build a castle within a beautiful garden open to the public. In 1929 they bought the land at Mena Creek and started to build the castle using poured, reinforced concrete covered with plaster showing their hand prints. Their park opened for visitors in 1935 but Jose had not finished creating his dream. The huge mirror ball in the dance hall was a popular feature and other additions were: tennis courts, refreshment rooms, a museum, a children’s playground, a tunnel, balconies, bridges, a hydro-electric generating plant, waterfalls and cascades. (more…)