The Sydney Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II, on 20 October 1973. Acclaimed throughout the world and recognised as a masterpiece of creative genius, this extraordinary building was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon (1918–2008), who was awarded the project in 1957 following an international design competition. With its prominent location on Bennelong Point, the Opera House is a fitting response to its spectacular harbour setting. 

The idea for a dedicated performing arts centre in Sydney had been discussed for decades, but in the mid-1950s the idea gained political traction, during what was a transformative period for Australia: a rapidly expanding economy, fuelled by very high levels of postwar immigration from Europe and a renewed sense of national optimism.

Construction of the podium began in 1959, while Utzon and a team of architects and engineers explored how to build the Opera House’s shell-shaped roof. Between 1958 and 1962, the roof design for the Sydney Opera House evolved through various iterations: parabolic, ellipsoid and, finally, the spherical geometry that so brilliantly formed the shells and is considered a milestone in 20th-century architecture.

While Utzon’s design was hailed, the judges’ premonition of associated controversy was indeed correct. Utzon resigned from the project in 1966, before its completion, after facing increasing criticism on account of the time and cost of the project. Australian architect Peter Hall (1931–95) took on the mammoth task of completing the project. 

In 2003, Utzon received the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honour, for his contributions to architecture. The Opera House was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007 as “a masterpiece of 20th century architecture”, one of only two cultural sites to be listed during the lifetime of its architect.

As well as being an architectural icon, the Opera House is Australia’s number one tourist destination. Over the decades, it has been home to many of the world’s greatest artists and performances, and a meeting place for matters of local and international significance. 

Technical specifications

Issue date
10 October 2023
Issue withdrawal date
1 May 2024
$1.20 x 1, $3 (Int.) x 1
Stamp & product design
Jason Watts, Australia Post Design Studio
Paper: gummed
Tullis Russell 104gsm Red Phosphor
Paper: self-adhesive
Tullis Russell Red Phos PSA (P55) 100GM S/A (Roll- Raflacoat RP51 WG 65)
Printer (s/a)
RA Printing (Rapid Labels)
Printing process (roll)
Offset lithography (Inkjet Printing 1200 DPI)
Stamp size (mm)
26 x 37.5
Minisheet (mm)
135 x 80
14.6 x 13.86
Sheet layout
Module of 50 (2 x 25 no design) Matt Overprintable Varnish (roll)
FDI Postmark
Sydney NSW 2000
FDI withdrawal date
8 November 2023

Stamps in this issue

$1.20 Sydney Opera House, West Elevation

The stamp photograph is by Jesse Hammer via Unsplash.

$3 Sydney Opera House, North Elevation

The stamp photograph is by Manny Moreno via Unsplash.

Shop our stamp collectables

Set of Gummed Stamps:

Set of Sydney Opera House: 50 Years Gummed Stamps

This set presents the two stamps from the Sydney Opera House: 50 Years stamp issue.


Sydney Opera House: 50 Years Minisheet

This minisheet is from the Sydney Opera House: 50 Years stamp issue and presents the two stamps with elevation designs in the background.

Stamp Pack:

Sydney Opera House: 50 Years Stamp Pack

This Sydney Opera House: 50 Years stamp pack contains the two stamps and minisheet from the stamp issue presented in a high-quality folder.


Set of Sydney Opera House: 50 Years Maxicards

This maxicard set contains the two maxicards from the Sydney Opera House: 50 Years stamp issue.

Additional collectables:

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.