I love that Tamarama Beach has this wonderful history, a past that has helped define a stunning little stretch of sand as the go-to spot for happy days. More than a century ago, long before it was known as “Glamarama”, the beach was home to Sydney’s first coastal amusement park. Built in 1887, The Bondi Aquarium was a show-stopper, with (what was considered then) a heart-stopping roller-coaster ride across the beach, vaudeville acts, seals and a tiger shark. With a two-level merry-go-round, an airship, Alice the Elephant and an outdoor roller skating rink, it claimed to be as good as New York’s Coney Island and attracted around 2,000 visitors every Summer. There was also a miniature railway that took a 2-mile track across the clifftops.
After fire destroyed the pavilion and aquarium, it was rebuilt as Wonderland City. The photos from this period are fabulous, transportive. In it’s day, Wonderland City was the largest open air amusement park in the Southern Hemisphere. Eventually, numbers declined amid resident battles over beach access, claims of animal cruelty and issues with the airship, and the amusement park closed in 1911. The state government then bought the area and called it Tamarama Park. Tamarama is believed to derive from the Aboriginal name Gamma Gamma (meaning storm).