Why We Love Sydney Opera (And You Should, Too!)

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most internationally recognised symbols of Australia. From artist Ken Done’s famous prints and paintings to the scene in the movie Independence Day when aliens destroyed the iconic building, the Opera house stands for all things Aussie.


There are guided tours where you can learn about this highly unique building, get a feel for the architecture and walk through the interior but that is not the full picture. While such tours are well worth it, a harbour cruise as well as a guided tour allows you to take in all the Opera House’s beauty.  


Sensational Sydney Cruises offer unrivalled views of this famous icon. Not only can you appreciate all the architectural uniqueness and aesthetic pleasure of the gleaming white tiled shells you get to see the Opera House from many angles and how it connects with its surroundings and the Sydney skyline. Endless photo opportunities from the privacy of a 52 foot motor yacht give a more intimate setting to learn about the Opera House away from the bustle and crowds of sightseers.

While the fact that the shell or arch shaped roofs of the Opera House are covered with more than 1 million tiles (1,056,006 to be exact) is one most people know about, there are other lesser known facts that are still amazing. For instance the very first performance at the Opera House was not War and Peace performed at its opening in 1973 but Paul Robson singing Old Man River in 1960 when he climbed the scaffolding and sang to the construction workers.

Speaking of constructions workers it took more than 10,000 workers to build the Opera House. From the competition that gave us Jorn Utzon’s winning design to completion of the building itself took 14 years and 3 specially designed cranes had to be built in order to construct the giant shells that give the Opera house its distinct shape. It was also one of the very first buildings to use a computerised structural design programme. Originally estimated to cost $7 million, this ambitious project actually cost $102 million but we think it was well worth the cost.

It was opened by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II on the 20th of October 1973 and in 2006 on 13th of March she opened the Western Colonnade. The Queen was not the only royal to visit this grand old building now more than 40 years old. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and our very own Princess Mary have done so as well. Many dignitaries and important people from around the world have come to see this engineering wonder including His Holiness Pope John Paul II. That is a pretty impressive list of important people.


A lot of effort goes into keeping the Opera House in top shape. It takes a team of 3 people constantly cleaning all the brass in this master piece gleaming. They use a mixture of bicarb soda and vinegar to clean every brass surface then wipe it down with Greek Olive oil to protect it from the corrosive salt air and humidity. They actually go through 104L of this oil per year. White is also a big no no, earth tones and cream are used around the Opera House so as not to detract from the spectacular white of the tiled arches.

In order to cool and heat this unique building, giant pumps suck water in from the Harbour and pipe it into cooling and heating tanks. These tanks are cleaned every three months at which time about 80kg of barnacles are removed. This makes the Opera House cooling system sustainable and environment friendly. This was part of the original design plan by Jorn Utzon. Despite resigning from the project during construction, he was later involved with projects at the Opera House and was present at the opening of the Western Colonnade. When he passed away in Copenhagen in 2008 at the age of 90, they flew the flags on the Sydney Harbour Bridge at half-mast in tribute to his vision and contribution to Sydney and Australia.

A year before that in June of 2007 the Sydney Opera House was World Heritage listed ensuring that it is maintained and continues to enchant generations to come. So book a cruise with Sensational Sydney Cruises today and experience this wonderful piece of Australiana that truly is a wonder of the modern world. Choose from three private cruises each showcasing the Opera House in different lighting offering Sensational selfie opportunities with friends, wonderful food and your own personal Captain and Host.