10 Things You Don’t Know About the Sydney Opera House

Our last morning in Sydney was a gloomy, rainy one. Luckily we had booked one of the only indoor activities we knew of- The Sydney Opera House tour. Honestly, I was a little on the fence at first about whether or not it would be worth it, but I am so glad that we went ahead and bought them. We learned SO much about Sydney’s most iconic building that I wanted to share my newfound knowledge with you. ūüôā So here we go….


1. The New South Wales government held an open-ended design competition to find the architect to design the Opera House in 1957. The winner was a Danish man named J√łrn Utzon who submitted the shell shaped blueprint.


2. Every aspect of the building was inspired by the harbor setting and influenced by the architect’s navy background, even down to the colors of the signage and carpet.


3. In order to provide the best acoustics, the structure of the Opera hall imitates a human mouth and allows sound to carry without the need of a microphone. Even the material the seats are made of were carefully chosen to allow sound to be reflected most effectively.


4. The original budget for the entire building was $7 million. It ended up costing $102 million (in 1973) which would be close to $900 million today.

5. The NSW Government created the Opera House Lottery to help pay off the building in 1957 and ran until 1986.


6. The architect quit in 1966 and never returned to Sydney to see his completed project. His son, also an architect, did visit and assist the building team with renovations in the 1990’s.


7. Besides operas, plays, ballets and concerts the Sydney Opera House has played host to cooking shows, Oprah, Arnold’s final Mr. Olympia win and even the Game of Thrones season premiere (with music by a live symphony).

8. The outside of the Opera House is made of over 1 million shell-like tiles imported from Sweden that are completely self-cleaning. The building has no external gutter. The titles collect the water and direct it straight back into the sea. Another one of Utzon’s genius ideas.


9. In the Opera Theatre there isn’t enough room backstage for props and sets, so a huge, hidden elevator lowers and raises them as needed.


10. The House hosts 3,000 events a year and is open everyday of the year except Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Now next time you see that iconic structure you know a little more about how it came to be. ūüôā

Sydney: Mainly Manly

We arrived in Sydney around 5 on Thursday afternoon (or is that evening, I don’t even know?!). We stayed in¬†a little boutique hotel in a neighborhood called Darlinghurst just outside of the city center.


Travis had to do a little work then¬†we headed out to find a place for dinner. We wanted to try a bar/restaurant someone had recommended to Travis called Argyle. We looked high and low but for some reason we could not find it anywhere (don’t worry it was extremely visible and we found it the next night but it was a night club with a $10 cover) so we ended up just going to the first place we saw which was the Glenmore. The food was nothing to write home about but the rooftop bar looked over the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House and they had $6 beers (that is very big news here). Somehow this is the only picture I took…


The area that the bar was in is called The Rocks. It’s a historic area of town that was one of the first colonies formed in Sydney in 1788. Now it’s a touristy area filled with bars and shops but the old stone buildings¬†manage to keep some of it’s historic charm. It’s a really fun area that I would definitely recommend checking out! They also have markets from 10am-5pm every Saturday and Sunday where plenty of local venders sell artwork, house wares, food and everything in between. You can get more information about them here.

Friday morning we slept in until 8:30!!! Our bedroom in our apartment in Brisbane has huge skylight type windows that wake us up with the sun at 5am every morning so this was a real treat. We took a cab and headed to the harbor to catch a ferry to Manly Beach. While we waited on the ferry we walked around by the opera house and checked out what was playing.



We took the slow ferry to Manly Beach which takes approximately 25 minutes. While we were on the ferry there were these military helicopters flying around above us and over the city.

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I had seen on the news that morning that the Bristish Prime Minister was coming in town before heading to the G20 in Brisbane, so I am assuming that had something to do with their presence. It was still pretty cool to see them so close to us. Something about helicopters really fascinates me.

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The rest of the boat ride went by pretty quickly and we got to enjoy some¬†beautiful views of the city and ocean. Once we got to Manly we grabbed a quick breakfast and headed down to the beach. It was still early so it wasn’t crowded yet so we got to relax and watch the surfers.

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Not 10 minutes after we had set up shop on the beach a booming voice came over the¬†loud speaker. They said that there were a¬†large number of blue bottle jellyfish (also known as Portuguese Man o’ war)¬†in the water and washing up on shore so to be careful because there is no immediate cure for the sting. They weren’t kidding either- the entire shore was covered in those suckers.


Clearly I was not about to take any chances and never got past a couple inches into the water before nearly having a panic attack and running back to our spot.


Travis clearly wanted to one of the 10,000 humans in Australia that get stung by those creepy invertebrates each year and hopped right in.


I love this because the lifeguard is watching him swim in the surfing only area and waiting for his chance to gripe at him.

By mid afternoon the beach was packed and I had developed a very attractive splotchy sunburn on my knees (who remembers to put sunscreen on their knees?!) so we decided that was enough beach time for the day.

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So we headed to grab lunch and a beer on the strand. Manly is a really cute area and once again we discussed how we wanted to bring people here when they visit…


While laying on the beach we made a spontaneous decision to buy overpriced tickets to see a play we had never heard of at the Opera House. So we hopped back on the ferry and headed back to the hotel to rest and get cleaned up.


More on our night at the Sydney Opera House and Sydney’s Oldest Pub next time..