Not Quite So Wonderful – Wonderland City Tamarama

Tamarama Beach (Wonderland City) Front
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.

Place Of Folly? Folly Point

Folly Point North Sydney Front

The image above is a glimpse into the history of an area of North Sydney which today looks very different. Folly Point and Cammeray more generally were once an area given to dairy farming and quarrying, but today Cammeray is a built up area full of homes, manicured gardens and handsome tree lined streets. 

Cammeray is named after the Cammeraygal, the Aboriginal group who lived in the area. Though this name has a clear derivation, the name Folly Point is a little more mysterious. Such an evocative title – but what was the folly to which the name refers? Sadly nobody truly knows how the name came to be. There are two main theories though. Some suggest the area is named after Captain Charles McKinnon who was the commander of explosives hulks moored in the Seaforth area. The folly itself in this theory remains something of a mystery. The second theory suggests that a landowner in the area, by the name of Levy is responsible for the name. Apparently he built his house on Folly Point, but he mixed his mortar with the salty sea water and the house collapsed. The name folly refers to the fact that he then did the same thing again, with the same results.

However the area came to be named, it is an area which has played an important role in Sydneys Depression era history, not just in the Great Depression but also the previous 1890s Depression. During the earlier period of depression a shanty settlement grew up in the bushland at Folly Point. It was known as Tin Town and became home to many out of work Sydneysiders. It was also during this period that talented Australian poet Barcroft Boake tragically committed suicide at Folly Point, hanging himself with his stockwhip. Tin Town persisted after the depression ended and when depression again hit in the 1930s it was still a working settlement. Again, the unemployed moved into the rough tents and shacks.

Pitt Street, All Dressed Up For The Prince Of Wales

Pitt Street Prince Of Wales Celebration Front copy

With the Queen’s Birthday Weekend upon us, The Past Present is focusing on royalty. Australia has been the focus of over 50 Royal visits over the years, most recently of course by Prince William and his family. Although today many Australians increasingly support the idea of a republic, throughout Australia’s European history many other Australians have been enthusiastic supporters and followers of the British Monarchy and happy members of the British Empire. Here we focus on the visit of Edward, The Prince Of Wales to Australia in 1920.

Edward arrived in Australia on April 2nd, 1920, beginning his journey in Victoria. He was representing his father, King George V and had a specific role to play during his visit – he was here to thank Australians for their part in World War One. Australians embraced the Royal Visit with great enthusiasm and enormous crowds greeted the Prince wherever he went. In fact the overwhelming enthusiasm of the crowds, combined with his busy agenda while here, meant that he had to take a week long break from official duties before reaching NSW!

The Prince was very popular with Australians who appreciated his modesty and humour. After being involved in a rail accident (where he was unhurt), he even made light of the situation, thanking officials for arranging a ‘harmless little railway accident’. Edward’s nature and the affection of Australians for the prince won him the nickname ‘digger Prince’, a high compliment from Australians indeed!