Tamarama Beach, which is beautifully captured in the image above, is a picturesque Sydney beach. Although only small, it has plenty of sand for picnicking, but it is also one of Sydney’s most dangerous patrolled beaches.
Despite the dangers of the beach, swimming has long been a popular pastime at Tamarama. In fact, beach access, or the lack thereof, is one of the reasons why Wonderland City, the famous amusement park which once stood in the area is long gone. When William Anderson leased the land where Wonderland City was to be built, the beach was not included. According to his lease, a 12 foot public access path to the beach was excluded from his land yet that did not stop him building an 8 foot fence across the access. He claimed people were evading paying the entry fee to Wonderland City by entering from the beach, but blocking this access was an unpopular move. Some swimmers who wished to use the beach were well known local businessmen of the time and they were incensed at having their beach fenced. A battle soon ensued between Anderson and the swimmers. They would cut the wire of his fence, Anderson would repair it and call the police and the police would issue the swimmers a warning. The next weekend this would all happen again.
Eventually the swimmers took a deputation to NSW Parliament and in March 1907 an order was issued to resume the 12 foot strip of land, providing free access to the beach. The conflict may have been over, but the bad publicity which it had provided was extremely damaging for the amusement park. Combined with concerns over safety standards and the treatment of Anderson’s animals, the public view of Wonderland City began to sour and visitor numbers dropped. Anderson attempted to bring back the visitors with increasingly famous acts and public exhibitions, but when the amusement park closed in 1910 it was said that he had lost up to 15000 pounds.