2 Mar 1959 - Sydney Opera House construction began

On this day 2 March 1959 work officially began on Stage 1 of the Sydney Opera House when Premier JJ Cahill laid a plaque, the point from which all measurements of the Sydney Opera House would be taken.

Stage 1 included the building of the upper podium and the work was carried out by Civil and Civic P/L.

Source: Sydney Opera House. Construction begins

Government Printing Office 2 - 29953 - Opera House from Unilever Building [Sydney Opera House (N.S.W.); building construction] [GPO original locations or series - unnumbered] [4/03/1966]

Sydney Opera House construction

We hold records relating to the construction of Sydney Opera House including the stages of construction, who was who, correspondence, plans, contracts, accounting records and more

Booklets and competition drawings

Brown book, 1955

Sydney Opera House - the 'Brown Book'

Conditions and Programme for an International Competition for a National Opera House at Bennelong Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Yellow book, 1962

Sydney Opera House - the 'Yellow Book'

This 1962 report (commonly known as the 'Yellow Book') comprises plans submitted by Jørn Utzon and consultants

Sydney Opera House - the 'Gold Book'

The printed booklet, commonly known as the 'Gold Book', was issued to accompany the “Ceremony to Commemorate the Commencement of the Sydney Opera House” on 2 March 1959

Guide to the records


Sydney Opera House

Highlighting Sydney Opera House records in the State Archives Collection

Published on 
Fort Macquarie, a man stand at boats moored in front of the building

Fort Macquarie, Bennelong Point

Fort Macquarie was constructed between 1817-1821 and demolished in 1901. The Tram Depot was opened in 1902 and pulled down in 1958 to make way for the building of the Sydney Opera House

Government Printing Office 2 - 08376 - Opera House Committee at Public Works Building [Department of Local Government; interiors; architects; public servants] [GPO original locations or series - 47927] [11/1/1957]

Management of the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House Trust operates and maintains the Opera House on behalf of the NSW Government

Opening of the Sydney Opera House

The Opera House was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 20 October 1973. This was followed by a two-week festival of events

Government Printing Office 2 - 49270 - Sydney Opera House [Public Works] [GPO original locations or series - St89262] [Jun-73]

Photographs and oral histories of Sydney Opera House

There are many images of the Sydney Opera House in all stages of construction and use in the State Archives Collection.

The sacred veil, 2022. Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

The People’s House: audio interviews

Hear from former staff, creatives and performers about their most cherished memories of the iconic building

Harold Blair sings at a piano played by Marjorie Lawrence

Paving the way ... Harold Blair: The first Aboriginal opera singer

A short documentary that offers a glimpse into the life of Harold Blair, a world-renowned tenor, family man and political campaigner who sought social justice and human rights for Australia’s First Nations people