Luckily the weather was really nice on Saturday. So, my friend and I walked about four miles from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches in Sydney. The Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach walk is one of the more popular coastal walks in Sydney, but there are a multitude of other options to explore. With multiple observation posts, parks, ocean baths, cliffs and rock pools along the way, the paved walk is absolutely beautiful at any vantage point.
Along the coastal trail, you are lead through the Waverley Cemetery, which sounds incredibly grim, dispiriting, and unwelcoming for a beach walk. However, this cemetery in particular is regularly regarded as one of “the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.” The Waverley Cemetery is a state heritage listed cemetery and was established in 1877. Many notable Australians such as poet Henry Lawson, Australia’s first Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton, and The Bulletin founder Jules Archibald. Over 200 graves are war graves from various wars such as World War I and World War II. The cemetery is an iconic landmark well known for its Victorian and Edwardian monuments and sculptures. And combined with spectacular views of the ocean, the walk through this cemetery is anything but unpleasant.
On Easter Sunday, I visited the Sydney Opera House, which is undoubtedly one of the most famous and notorious Australian landmarks. That being said, the Opera House was absolutely crowded. The building itself is magnificent—pictures really do not do it any justice.
The facility is monumental: it spans over 4.4 acres of land and is 600 feet long and 394 feet wide. The Opera House consists of multiple venues, although the name suggests it is a singular entity. This structure is supported by over 588 concrete piers that extend as far as 82 feet below sea level. Over 1.2 million people attend some of the 1,500 performances the Opera House hosts each year. In general, the site attracts approximately eight million people annually.
The history behind the design and construction is quite interesting:
The building itself was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and has been considered a hallmark of 20th century expressionist design. Out of 233 entries from architects representing 32 countries across the world, Utzon’s design was selected as the winner of a 1957 design competition.
Construction can be thought of split into three phases: Stage I: Podium, Stage II: Roof, and Stage III: Interiors.
Due to fears of rescinded funding or public opinion, the Australian government pressured the construction firm Civil & Civic into a premature start. Stage I of construction began in 1959. However, by 1961, construction was already 47 weeks behind. A podium was built, but had to be torn and rebuilt due to its inability to support the roof structure. The podium was finally completed in 1963.
From 1957 to 1963, designers shuffled through 12 designs for the roof structure. It was extremely difficult to come to an economically and structurally sound design. By mid-1961 a solution was formed. Over 1 million tiles were used to construct the gigantic roof structures.
In 1965, during Stage III, Robert Askin replaced Jack Renshaw as the Premier of New South Wales. Askin handed jurisdiction of the construction over to the Ministry of Public Works. The Ministry’s criticism of the length of time and money spent lead to the resignation of Utzon. Following the problematic trajectory of construction, complications arose during this stage as well. A glut of changes was made to Utzon’s design upon his departure.
The Opera House was finally completed in 1973. The Opera House went 1,357% over budget: it cost 77.54 million dollars—equivalent to 704 million dollars—to complete the structure.
The Opera House is truly a magnificent spectacle, but the history and complications behind it only make it more intriguing. It was even named a UNESCO World Heritage site in June 2007.