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Wonderland City or Elephant graveyard?

a vintage photo of a large crowd of people in a body of water

If you were looking out over Tamarama beach in 1906, your view of the ocean would have been interrupted by a rollercoaster. The track ran in a loop, twisting and turning from one side of the cliffs to another, elevated on tall metal stilts. It was part of Wonderland City, a theme park that offered a roller-skating rink, elephant rides and a haunted house, among its many attractions. Wonderland City was short-lived, closing in 1911. An urban myth continues to this day that buried in this area are the remains of an elephant named “Princess Alice.” The most recent mention of Princess Alice arose from the sale of the old Coogee mansion ‘Ocean View’ in 2009. During auction, the real estate boasted that the historical Wirth family backyard contained the remains of Tamarama’s favourite elephant. True? Or property-peddlers marketing spin? The mansion fetched over 10 million dollars, and perhaps if you ask nicely and bring your own shovel, the owners of 370 Alison Road might let you have a dig.

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Photographs: State Library of NSW

a vintage photo of a large body of water a large elephant standing next to a building