Initially known as Dixon Bay by early European settlers, the name was changed to Tamarama in the 1800s. Tamarama is probably a derivation of the Aboriginal name 'Gamma Gamma', which appeared on maps of the coastline in the 1860s by the Military or Naval Authority.  In the late 1890s a genteel campaign of civil disobedience was undertaken to open up Sydney beaches to daytime bathing. Inspector of schools and writer George Philip was credited with winning the day in Tamarama.
The Bondi Aquarium at Tamarama, circa 1890
In 1887 Sydney's first coastal amusement park, and one of the earliest in Australia, opened at Tamarama. Named The Bondi Aquarium its greatest attraction was a plunging roller coaster that dived and twisted over the beach. People flocked to the attraction, not only for the rides, but for vaudeville acts and aquarium creatures, including seals and a tiger shark. On the evening of July 11, 1891, fire destroyed the aquarium and pavilion, but it rose from the ashes in September the same year, and continued to entertain Sydney's populace. The last identified concert at the Aquarium was a fund raiser for the Waverley Benevolent Society in July 1906.
Ownership and management changed several times throughout its existence, until the site was finally sold by Mrs Margaret J. Lachaume in 1906 to William Anderson who transformed the amusement park, renaming it Wonderland City. In 1906 Wonderland City opened and replaced the Bondi Aquarium as the latest attraction at Tamarama. Powered by its own steam plant, the amusement park featured an airship suspended over the bay and an elephant named Alice available for rides on the beach. There was also a miniature railway operating on a two-mile track over the cliff tops. Frequent battles with local residents over beach access, charges of animal cruelty and an incident with the airship saw a decline in numbers. After a few years of low crowds and poor revenue Wonderland City closed in 1911. In 1920, the NSW Government bought the area and proclaimed it Tamarama Park. There is still a Wonderland Avenue at Tamarama.
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