My travels don’t usually linger too long in cities, but Sydney is an inviting, international center for arriving and departing flights, and I enjoyed it on four different occasions. The Opera House is impressive from inside and out; you can explore it without spending a penny, and admire it up close or from a harbour boat.
Although it’s name indicates it is one venue only, this iconic building is actually a performance facility for numerous organizations and performances. Construction began in 1959 with an original budget of $7 million. The architect was a Danish man, Jorn Utzon, who resigned from the project in 1966. It was completed in 1973, costing $102 million, and formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
The largest section of the Opera House, the Concert Hall, is host to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Opera, and other concert presenters. It has over 2,600 seats and boasts the Grand Organ with 10,000 pipes. There is also another large performance theater with 1,500 seats, several other smaller theaters, a multi-purpose room, and recording studio. In addition, large, open foyers are used for social functions and conferences. Cafes, restaurants, and bars are also on the site.
When I visited Sydney it was not the opera season, but for a small ticket price we went to a singing performance in a small theater. Typical of Australia, the atmosphere was very casual. Inside it was a very busy place, with tourists and locals alike. You can also buy a guided tour. I imagine the acoustics in the big Concert Hall are superb, as they were in the small theater I attended. Indoors there were high, curved ceilings, spacious open areas as well as intimate spaces, dazzling harbour views, and an ultra modern theme.
The Harbour is bustling with boat tours, commuter boats, and pleasure craft.
The expansive Royal Botanic Gardens are within walking distance, the Taronga Zoo is accessible by boat from this harbour, and there is plenty of shopping and touring to do around the harbour and downtown. But the problem is the Outback is calling! There are kangaroos, echidnas, parrots, and koalas to find, and the Great Barrier Reef is oh so near…. Cheers mate!
Photo credit: Athena Alexander