Sydney Opera House – iconic the world over. You don’t even have to have stepped foot on the continent of Australasia to recognise it.
I first recall seeing pictures of the Sydney Opera House when I was about 5yrs old, not pictures of it in all of its glory as it stands now but pictures which my Mum took when she lived here in the mid 1960’s a time it was still very much in the building stage. Mum didn’t even have photos – but slides. I clearly remember the times when she would set up a projector and screen in the living room and show us all her slides of Australia, I also remember her coming into my class at infant school to do the same and to give a talk on the country. It was way back then that my love and fascination with the country began although it was to be many, many more years before I got to step foot in this land.
My Mum should have got to have seen the finished masterpiece though because when the building began in 1959 it was planned as a 3 year project (Mum lived here 1964-66), however problems with the engineering, change of government, conflict in the development etc meant that the Opera House did not actually open its doors until 1973.
When a colleague of mine saw via facebook that we were in Sydney she contacted her daughter who works at the opera house and she in turn offered to meet us and show us around.
Unfortunately her work schedule got changed so instead she very kindly got us two complimentary tickets for the official tour.
I was really excited about this but wasn’t sure if at the age of 7 Cameron would really appreciate it. However I am pleased to report that he LOVED it and was fully engaged for the whole 60 minutes of the tour.
If you are visiting Sydney then I would highly highly recommend that you take the tour. Just be aware however that there are a LOT of steps to climb, so a reasonable mobility/fitness level is required.
With each tour you have a personal guide and tours are given in several different languages inc English, French & Mandarin.
We had a lovely guide called Steve who was a wealth of information and great engaging personality too. The great thing about these tours is that whilst you have a live guide you are also given a power pack and headset so you are not trying to struggle to hear your guide and he is not having to shout at visitors the whole time. It also means the guides can still quietly feed you information when we enter the backs of various theatres if their are rehearsals going on.
Cameron was fully engaged via his powerpack and headset!
Obviously you can’t go into the theatres when there are performances going on, but we did get to view one of the smaller theatres which was set up for a cabaret, the concert hall where the Sydney Symphony Orchestra where they were rehearsing for a live performance of James Bond’s Casino Royale and the Joan Sutherland theatre where the stage management team were busy with the scenery set up for tonight’s operatic performance of Turandot. Due to performance copyright etc you are not able to take photographs inside the actual theatres.
As well as viewing the actual theatres, you learn the fascinating story of the design to completion. I won’t give too much away here in case anyone want to actually go and do the tour but will simply summarise by telling you that the opera house was designed by 38 yr old Danish architect The architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon. He was design was no 218 of 222 submitted to judges and was originally thrown out of the running. It was only when another judge joined the panel of decision makers and asked to see all of the original designs that Utzon’s plans were brought back in for consideration and then finally won the tender.
The story, the design, the history truly is fascinating, especially learning that after a change of Government conflict within the building stage came to a head and led to Utzon leaving Australia to return to Denmark, never ever seeing the opera house completed. However he did live long enough to see included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in June 2007 under the World Heritage Convention, placing it alongside the Taj Mahal, the ancient Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China as one of the most outstanding places on Earth.
I am so grateful to my friend Jacqui and her daughter Nichola for getting us tickets for the tour as I admit I probably wouldn’t have done it otherwise and it turned out to be both an enjoyable and incredibly interesting afternoon for us both.
For further information on tours around the Sydney Opera House, just click here.