Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach, 2008
Alice In Wonderland, 2009 is a series of 7 larger-than-life sculptures based on the real and imagined inhabitants of Wonderland City, a fun park that drew thousands of people to Tamarama Beach between 1906 and 1911.
Founded by theatrical entrepreneur William Anderson, Wonderland City took up eight hectares of Tamarama Gully, at the western end of the beach, and featured entertainments hitherto unimagined in Australia, including the country's first open-air ice rink, a double-decker merry-go-round and an artificial lake. There were waxworks, a seal pond and an aquarium, plus the Airem Scarem, an airship that tracked on a cable from cliff to cliff. When not taking rides on Alice the resident elephant, crowds would gather to watch daredevil Jack Lewis rollerskate down a ramp, through a flaming hoop and into a tank full of sharks.
But despite pulling huge crowds, Wonderland City eventually ran into trouble. Tamarama locals resented having their beach blocked off and breakdowns of the Airem Scarem prompted several safety scares. The park went bankrupt and was closed in 1911, leaving behind little physical evidence, save a nearby avenue that still bears its name.
The park employed 160 people in its heyday, however there is little information on what happened to the performers, the seals the sharks, and Alice the Elephant.
One theory had her being relocated to Moore Park Zoological Gardens, a precursor to Taronga Park; another held that she was shot and buried in the sand at Tamarama Beach.
This then is a tribute to Alice and her friends from Wonderland City, 97 years later.
Article from Sydney Morning Herald by Tim Elliot, October 11, 2008