When planning your Australian road trip and getting your car hire booked, you’re probably considering a trip to one of the world’s most recognisable buildings. Make the most of your visit by being armed with our most interesting and little known facts about the Sydney Opera House.

a photo of the sydney opera house
There’s lots to know about the iconic Sydney Opera House.

1) It was fourth time lucky for the designer – Poor old Jorn Utzon from Denmark had his design turned down three times before finally beating 232 others to win the 1956 competition. He received payment of £5,000.

2) Utzon never saw the design through – Work started in 1959 with 10,000 people employed on the project. However, in 1966, Utzon resigned after disagreements about funding resulted in his payments being stopped by the Minister of Works. Although protests demanded the situation be worked out, Utzon left the country and never saw his iconic design in all its glory.

3) The estimated cost was $7 million – It was expected to take four years to build the Sydney Opera House, but after the 14 years it actually took, the costs spiraled to a whopping $102 million. Most of the costs were met by a state lottery.

4) There are more than 1 million roof tiles – Made in Sweden, the huge number of roof tiles cover around 1.62 hectares between them. 5) It has the biggest grand organ in the world – The concert hall features the world’s largest mechanical grand organ, with 10,154 pipes. It took 10 years to build, but is now a big part of the 3,000 events hosted at the Sydney Opera House every year. 6) It’s a UNESCO world heritage site – UNESCO status was awarded fairly recently in 2007, when it was described as a “great urban sculpture”. 7) A chicken caused a stir in the 1980s – During a performance of the opera Boris Godunov, a chicken took a walk off the edge of the stage, landing on a cellist in the orchestra pit. There’s now a net in place to protect unsuspecting musicians.
8) The first performance took place before the doors even opened – In 1960, while builders working the project took their lunch outside, Paul Robeson performed ‘Ol’ Man River’. ‘War and Peace’ was the first opera performed, in September 1973. 9) The Queen and Arnie are well-known visitors – Queen Elizabeth II opened the site in 1973 and returned a further four times. Arnold Schwarzenegger collected his final bodybuilding title at the Sydney Opera House in 1980. 10) The temperature is controlled by the sea – It’s critical for the instruments that the temperature remains at 22.5 degrees. Part of the cooling system involves taking seawater from the surrounding harbour and moving it through 35 kilometres of pipes. Guarantee yourself an opportunity to visit the famous Sydney Opera House with our choice of Sydney airport and CBD car hire options.