Welcome to Wonderland City – Secrets of Tamarama Beach

This is a photo of Tamarama beach, previously the home of Wonderland City, the largest open air amusement park in the Southern Hemisphere in its day. Wonderland city was located at the site that was previously Bondi Aquarium in 1906 and used several of its buildings to house its attractions. The owner was a theatrical visionary named William Anderson.

Wonderland City had many attractions including an artificial lake, ice and roller skating rinks, a double decker merry-go-round, haunted house, and the Airem Scarem or “Dirigible” which was an airship that sailed from point to point over the ocean (at high tide). There was also the 1,000 seater Kings Theatre which held various theatrical shows.

The theme park was situated on 20 acres of land in the gully at Tamarama beach. The land went right up to the beach, aside from a 12 foot strip which was intended to allow locals access the water. This strip was the subject of much controversy with Anderson constructing a large wire fence he claimed kept park fare evaders away but also restricted locals’ access to the beach. Locals would then cut their way through the fence to get to the beach, Anderson would repair fence and so on this pattern continued until in 1907 the State Government issued an order to remove the fence and restore full access.

As a result Wonderland’s reputation was hurt. The owner tried in vain to restore it with new attractions and theatrical performances but the park eventually closed in 1911.

Dirigible flying over Tamarama Beach Photo courtesy of the State Library of NSW
Dirigible flying over Tamarama Beach
Photo courtesy of the State Library of NSW

 

Wonderland City, Tamarama Beach Photo courtesy of the State Library of NSW
Wonderland City, Tamarama Beach
Photo courtesy of the State Library of NSW

Sources:

Photos courtesy of the State Library NSW

www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/8773/Wonderland_City.pdf, retrieved 16 July 2015

www.powerhousemuseum.com/insidethecollection/2013/08/where-is-wonderland-tamaramas-secret-past/, retrieved 16 July 2015

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