Welcome to this blog, the story of a great big Australian adventure. It documents my travels, life in Australia, and a subject close to my heart – environmental conservation. 

Around The House

Sydney's Opera House has a remarkable history as well as appearance. The city had long been in great need of a dedicated music venue before a committee was set up in 1954 to raise funds, select a site and organise an international competition to produce a design for a performing arts complex. There were few restrictions, even on cost. More than 230 entries were received from all over the world: the winner, a Dane named Jorn Utzon, was announced in 1957. It was thought that what had mistakenly come to be called the Opera House (several theatres were to cater for ballet, symphony concerts, recitals and drama, as well as opera) would be built in four years.

Construction began a couple of years later: Ove Arup and Partners had been appointed consulting engineer. Utzon, however, had produced impressionistic sketches rather than detailed designs, and progress was slow. His original concept was virtually impossible to build and he spent four years on research and alterations with a number of consultants, while Arup worked out how to construct the roofs and produced working drawings. The New South Wales government changed its mind about the specification along the way. There were many further delays, while costs spiralled, and eventually Utzon resigned (in 1966): Arup saw the project through to completion. A panel of Australian architect consultants oversaw the rest of the work on the Opera House, which finally opened in 1973.

Today there are five main auditoria in the Opera House, rehearsal studios, dressing rooms, a library, restaurants, bars and lounge areas, 26 air-conditioning plant rooms... and hundreds more statistics: there are 645km of electrical cable; the building is supported on 580 concrete piers sunk 25 metres below sea level; the highest roof vault is 67 metres above sea level; the roofs are made of 2,194 pre-cast concrete sections, each of which weighs 15.5 tonnes; there are 2,000 panes of glass; and so on. And as anyone buying a tea towel or salt and pepper set in the SOH shop will know from the bag they're in, the roof has 1,056,000 glazed white self-cleaning granite tiles from Sweden.

Sydney rocks 2: Paddington

Views of a Bridge