The Sydney Opera House may have been a beacon of Australian tourism since it was opened in 1973, but for Indigenous Australians, it’s been a sacred site of significance for 60,000 years.
Bennelong Point, where the Opera House now stands, was named after Wangal man Woollarawarre Bennelong, who was given the land in 1790 in order to build a hut.
Although the grand Opera House now dominates the area, the Sydney Opera House Trust continues to conduct cultural tours about Bennelong, hailed by some as Indigenous Australia's first cultural ambassador.
According to Indigenous Programs Manager of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority Binowee Bayles, the site had a long history of its own prior to Bennelong’s influence, and was used for cultural celebrations.
Opera House architect Jan Utzon is also said to have been inspired by local Aboriginal middens in his design of the Australia icon.
The Sydney Opera House will celebrate its 40th birthday this weekend with Indigenous artists at its Gala concert on Sunday.