Sydney – What you might not know about the Opera House

Been to Australia. Watched the New Year’s Eve fireworks on the TV.
Seen any travel programme about Australia?
So you probably think you know everything there is to know about the Sydney Opera House.


Maybe you do… or maybe we can surprise you with these unusual facts about this iconic Aussie building.
Either way you’d better read on to find out…

  • Opera House architect, Jorn Utzon, resigned as chief architect in February 1966, after a new Liberal government was elected and stopped paying him. Protests followed on the streets, but Utzon left Australia in April that year – never to return.
  • Construction of the Opera House cost $AUS 102 million (£60 million); a staggering increase on the original estimate of $AUS 7 million (£4.1 million). The building’s sails alone cost $AUS 100,000 (£59,000) each.
  • In 2007, the Opera House was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site . It was described as a “great urban sculpture set in a remarkable waterscape, at the tip of a peninsula projecting into Sydney Harbour.”
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger won his final Mr Olympia body building title in the Concert Hall in 1980.
  • A live chicken wandered off the stage during a performance off Boris Godunov and landed on a cellist during the 1980s. As a result a net was put in place above the orchestra pit in the Opera Theatre.
  • The first opera performed at the house was Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace, on September 28, 1973.


  • LEGO produced a Sydney Opera House set. It is part of the LEGO Architecture range (set 21012) and contains 270 pieces.
  • French climber Alain Robert scaled the Opera House in 1997 – without using any ropes or safety devices, and using only his hands and feet. During his career, Robert has also climbed the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.


  • Eugene Goossens, the conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1947, first put forward the idea for a new performance space in Sydney.
  • In 1982 the Opera House hosted its first and only night of boxing; a middleweight fight between Liverpool born Kenny Salisbury and Macedonian Alex Temelkov. The fight ended in a brawl when Salisbury’s trainer grabbed Temelkov by the head after he punched Salisbury in the back of the head a number of times.

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