Sydney Opera House Tour
I must have around 500 pictures of the Sydney Opera House! I’d been in Sydney two months before my tour of the Opera House and had spent time around the Opera House pretty much every day and had photos and selfies from every angle as I was in awe of the place! Set in the dazzling blue beauty of Sydney Harbour the area bustles with people and excitement. I lost count of the number of times I was asked to take photographs of random strangers in front of the Opera House eager to preserve memories of this amazing feat of architecture and I wasn’t afraid to ask them to take my photo too due to the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Revelling in this chilled vibe, I also filmed videos of live bands at the Opera House Bar. People danced, sang, and enjoyed the Sydney sun and they were chilled and relaxed, laughing and enjoying life amongst the beauty of their surroundings. It was an unforgettable experience and everyday I wish I were back there!
As the weeks sailed by quickly, I yearned to explore the inside of the Opera House and although I would often sit inside the reception area to shelter from Sydney’s blazing sun I wanted to see inside the Concert Hall therefore I booked a tour of the Opera House. As a teacher I am always keen to know and understand the history behind famous places and so I was interested to hear the story of the Opera House
The land where the Opera House now stands was known as Tubowgule to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. ‘Tubowgule’ means ‘where the knowledge waters meet’ and so the site of the Opera House has a rich cultural history. A steam carrying fresh water down what is now Pitt Street meets the salty water of the cove creating a perfect fishing ground for midden shells and a place where the Gadigal people sang, danced, feasted, and told stories.
Now known as Bennelong Point honouring Woollarawarre Bennelog, who was a senior Eora man at the time of the arrival of the British colonisers in Australia in 1788. Bennolog served as an interlocutor between the British after he was kidnapped by Arthur Phillip (Governor of New South Wales). Bennolog gave the British information about the surrounding clans of Sydney. A hut was built for Bennelog at what is now Bennelog Point. With this rich cultural and historical background Bennelog Point was the ideal location to build the Sydney Opera House and this was commissioned in 1955.
A competition was launched in 1956 to build the Sydney Opera House and this was won by JØrn Utzon, who was an architect from Denmark, in 1957. His design was more sculptural and embraced expressionism and could be viewed from every angle at Bennelog Point. Inspired by Aztec and Mayan ruins and influenced by Kronburg Castle near his home in Holleaek in Denmark he used nautical maps of Sydney to get a sense of the landscape making his entry unique and full of the character of Sydney.
After construction began in 1959 it was marred by problems. The geology of Bennelog Point had not been surveyed properly and it was not safe to hold the weight of the structure. A mass concrete foundation had to be built which was not budgeted for. The weight of the roof was also a major problem, but construction continued. The shell shapes of the roof were also causing a problem for engineers, but this was solved by Utzon. Sadly, due to disagreements with the NSW government Utzon resigned and was not there to see the completion of the Sydney Opera House. Finally, the Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20th October 1973. This marked the beginning of a 40-year history of star-studied performances and a rich and diverse culture. Utzon returned to help redesign the interior of the Opera House and in 2004, the Reception Hall was renamed the Utzon Hall and an Utzon-led project was completed in 2006 which gave the theatre foyers views of Sydney Harbour.
Learn all this and much more on an incredible guided tour which takes you on a journey underneath the world-famous sails. I was able to visit the Concert Hall and sit on the wooden seats. It is all very earthy and natural inside and due to the renovations, there are fantastic views of the harbour. I took advantage of this by taking a few more selfies. I was also thinking of how and when I would be able to visit again by seeing one of the shows. Although I am not particularly interested in ballet more than 1600 shows take place at the Opera House each year so follow this link to learn more about the shows. After the tour was over, I received a photo memento which superimposed my image on some of the great places within the Opera House including the Concert Hall. I only took the basic one-hour tour due to my backpacker status! However, there are many more options available including backstage passes so check them out here! An Opera House Tour is highly recommended when visiting Sydney!
Teaching resources available for primary teachers: