Skip Links
Close Search

5 superb Sydney Opera House hats

Hold onto your hats, folks...

Dominic Ellis

Welcome to Opera House: Unexpected, where we look at lesser known chapters from a 48-year career in the cultural spotlight. This time, we're crowning the best buckets and bonnets that are for some reason modelled on the Sydney Opera House.


Half a century ago, Jørn Utzon had a vision. Of glossy white sails protruding from Bennelong Point. Of an immensely complex design made up of glorious stratified shells. Of an expressionist icon that would define a city.

But what Utzon was really envisioning was a bloody great hat.

While times are tough here in Australia, it’s important we keep level heads. And what better way to do that than with these five spectacular, impractical hats.

1. The pizza hat

You’ve gotta tip your hat to this physics-defying headpiece, sported by Dame Edna for a day at Ascot races in 1978. It defined the fashion of the time: big buildings on your noggin.


Pictured: A lifetime of chiropractor visits

2. The Star Trek hat

This little number was put together by costume designer Robert Blackman for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character Winn Adami. Doesn’t it just scream ‘I’m wearing a globally renowned performing arts venue on my head’?

Blackman said of the headpiece, "I didn't sit down and say, 'Oh, the Sydney Opera House – let's make a hat out of it!'". And yet, Rob, you've done just that. You'll be hearing from our lawyers.


"Give it to me straight: does my head look big in this?"

Still from Sunshine showing Sydney Opera House amidst a frozen over harbour
Still from Sunshine showing Sydney Opera House amidst a frozen over harbour

3. The flying nun hat

It's no coincidence the Opera House is nicknamed 'Nuns in a Scrum'. Little known fact about beloved ridiculous TV show The Flying Nun: see that hat? You guessed it. Opera House. Don't fact check this.


When pressed about the uncanny resemblance to his iconic building, Utzon responded, “Look, it’s fine, just don’t make a habit of it”.

4. The high fashion hat

The Opera House’s first real foray into high fashion. We in the business call this the ‘spherical solution’ – a term coined by Jørn Utzon referring to the mechanism by which a headpiece protects its wearer from the biggest sphere of them all: the sun.


“It stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind... Also, it's sun safe.”

5. The full immersion hat

Forget hats, this is the whole enchilada. Take note, above entries. This is the level of commitment expected when you dress up as the Opera House. 

The hand gestures indicate that this particular Opera House has detached itself from Circular Quay and set sail into the harbour. Full method acting - 10/10.


Pictured: Me six weeks into lockdown

More from Opera House: Unexpected...

web-1600x1200_Disaster.jpg

5 Sydney Opera House near misses (in the movies)

From killer sea creatures to crashing UFOs, the Sydney Opera House has been threatened in the most imaginative and unexpected ways. Here are just a few of our close calls.

australianidol-shannonnoll_1600x1200.jpg

Will you accept these shows? 5 minutes of reality TV fame for the Sydney Opera House

Five highlights from our career on the small screen

bowie-4x3.jpg

Vale MAX: 6 of the best Opera House music video cameos

We pay homage to our friends over at MAX and Channel [V] by digging through 50 years of music video appearances, featuring everyone from Cold Chisel to David Bowie, Kylie Minogue and Flume.