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A view of Harbour Restaurant on the Northern Broadwalk, c. 1980.

Rare retro photos of the Opera House’s 1980s outdoor restaurant

A new function and events centre - called the Yallamundi Rooms - transforms the harbour once more

Danielle Edwards
Communications Manager

The Sydney Opera House’s Northern Broadwalk has been reinvented many times in the 45 years since the Opera House’s opening. Sydneysiders may have known it as a seafood restaurant, picturesque harbourside jogging path or Benny the seal’s favourite sunbathing spot.

In April 2019 the Sydney Opera House opened the doors to a new function and events centre, transforming office space into a multi-purpose events venue. Named the Yallamundi Rooms – meaning “storyteller” in the local Sydney Indigenous language – the space has given back more of the world heritage listed building to the public and opened up the Northern Broadwalk to be enjoyed by the 10.9 million people who visit the site each year.

Inside Harbour Restaurant on the Northern Broadwalk, c. 1980.
A banquet wedding setting for the Yallamundi Rooms. Image: Daniel Boud

In 1973 the Northern Broadwalk was home to the Harbour Restaurant – a self-service family-friendly restaurant that offered no-fuss pre-show dining and champagne breakfasts from 11am.

By the late ‘80s the restaurant was revamped with a “seafood only menu” featuring crayfish bisque, mud crab salad and the ever popular fish and chips in beer batter. In a Sydney Morning Herald article from 1987, “gullible tourists” were warned to protect their meals from the local wildlife as “no refunds will be given to those customers whose meals are taken by the seagulls”, according to a restaurant sign.

In the 1990s the restaurant became 180 degrees, a name that paid homage to the expansive harbour views at the venue. As more conveniently located dining options in the new Lower Concourse grew in popularity, the restaurant closed in 2001, replaced by the Opera Point Marquee, a large extendable functions space.

This ‘temporary solution’ remained on the Northern Broadwalk for 17 years, until it was removed in 2018 as construction of the Yallamundi Rooms commenced. Today, the Opera House’s new function and events centre the Yallamundi Rooms can host a range of occasions, including community celebrations, intimate gatherings, private events and small-scale performances.

A view of Harbour Restaurant on the Northern Broadwalk, c. 1980.
Outdoor seating by the Yallamundi Rooms. Image: Daniel Boud
An aerial view of Harbour Restaurant on the Northern Broadwalk, c. 1980.
Danish-designed Arne Jacobsen chairs in the Yallamundi Rooms. Image: Daniel Boud

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