“ Probably one of Sydney, and indeed Australia's, most well-known landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge a.k.a. "the coathanger". It is the world's "largest" (not "longest") steel arch bridge and has dominated the Sydney skyline since 1932 after 9 years of construction. „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of my favourite sights in town. It's nothing short of breath taking the first time you drive over it - and you certainly can't count yourself as a "Sydneysider" until you have taken on the several lanes of traffic! There's a number of ways to see the bridge - you can climb it, walk it, or go under it in a ferry. Sydney BridgeClimb is the company which can take you for a walk to the top of the bridge. I've heard good reviews of this, but it's a bit pricey for my liking, costing around $200 each. My preferred option would be to fork out the $8 to climb the south east pylon, you get very good views of the city and change to pay for a fancy dinner!
To walk across the bridge, simply take the train to Milsons Point and follow the signs. You should walk from this station back to the city in order to take advantage of the awesome views. My favourite way of getting some great bridge photos is to take one of the cute ferries from Circular Quay to Milsons Point, from there turn right and there's a tiny park with a great vantage point - hey presto, great photos of you in front of both the Opera House AND harbour bridge!
If you're heading to Sydney for a holiday, its worth looking to see when the annual picnic on the bridge is - they close the bridge to traffic and put down astroturf, then lots of people go and have a picnic! You have to enter my ballot but it looks like great fun! Oh and if you're in town on Australia Day, head to the bridge for a great spot to watch the Ferrython, where all the public ferries race from one end of the harbour to the other!
When we first drove in to Sydney, I remember seeing the Sydney Harbor Bridge and marvelling at being in the midst of such an iconic Australian attraction. The bridge, along with possibly the neighbouring Opera House and Uluru, was one of the main things that I always pictured when thinking about Australia when I was growing up, and now not only could I see it, but in a few days time I'd be climbing it!
We had booked our bridge climb whilst back at home on the easy to use website. Various slots can be booked at equally varying prices depending on what time of day you choose to climb - day, night, twilight or "exclusive dawn!" The prices range from around $200-$300 Australian dollars depending on your time choice.
As a cheap skate, I opted for a standard day climb, and headed to the reception area where we sat with our co-climbers. They were a mixed group, mainly consisting of European couples with a few South Americans and Ozzies themselves thrown into the mix! We were met by our guide and kitted up with our bridge suits, caps (it was sunny!), communication equipment and glasses attachments (you've got to look cool in your shades as you climb!) and headed to the "training" area.
Before you can head out on to the bridge you have to be able to demonstrate that you have mastered the "latch and slide" method that may potentially save your life out there! Throughout the duration of the climb is a metal bar that you are attached to, thus preventing anyone accidentally falling off the bridge (it wouldn't really be great press for them would it?!?) Once this was complete, we headed out to the bridge itself.
I was probably one of the younger members of our group at the time and I was concerned that although I knew my fitness wouldn't let me down, I knew my fear of heights would! I thought it wise to mention this to our guide beforehand who was extremely supportive and avised me that many did the climb as an attempt to cure their fear! Throughout the journey as we climbed the bridge, he regularly checked up on me which was a nice touch.
The climb itself is breath taking with some incredible views both during the climb along with at the summit. There are regular stops as the guide takes photos of the group and a number of snaps at the top with the Sydney Opera House shot being a favourite. Owing to "health and safety" (as opposed to a clever marketing scam) you are not allowed to take your own cameras on to the bridge, so expect the hard sell later when you get down as you will clearly want something as a memento and to prove to friends and family that you did it!
One thing that did slightly cheapen the experience for me was the amount of other people on the bridge with you on different climbs. It does kind of lessen your experience when you can see 5 or 6 other groups further up or down the same climb as you. They certainly maximise the amount of people they can get out there.
The whole experience was amazing and like nothing I had ever done before. The climb was quite scary in places (there was one point when a train flew by below us!) and expect a number of concerning sheer drops either side of you. As you reach the 134 metre peak of the bridge, the views are quite incredible. It certainly didn't cure my fear of heights, but it was certainly an enjoyable experience.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic structure; many people would be able to recognize it, especially with the Opera House behind.
The question is, is it really worth spending all that money to climb it?
Every time I look on the web to see how much it will be when I next plan to go it seems to rise significantly.
I have, however, been lucky enough to do the famous bridge climb. I went in our summer 2007, in the afternoon.
We spent a long time inside the training centre learning how to use the equipment and being stripped of any jewellery or loose items. After being equipped with a walkie talkie style headset we were off.
I wasn't the luckiest with the weather; the clouds were seriously trying to squeeze out some rain! The slightly damp conditions made the climb up interesting as the small metal steps were slippy. It was a long walk up but the view was great even with the bad weather. When we came to having our complimentary photo taken with the Sydney Opera House behind the sun broke through for a few minutes.
We carried on around to the other side of the bridge where you come back down, this was definitely worse, coming down slippy stairs but trying to take in the view.
I would always recommend doing this trip to anyone that has not been. I plan to go up again in the not too distant future. Would love to try the sunset tour, where you go up while it is light and the sun sets while you are up there. It is supposed to be amazing.
My next review is on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is perhaps one of the most iconic monuments in Sydney, if not the whole of Australia. The Bridge is the main thing that stands out when you first arrive in Sydney, its like their gateway into and out of the City, and with its sheer size, its something that people should take the time to look at up close and personal.
The bridge has a long history, original plans to create the bridge started in the late 1890's however construction didn't actually start until the mid 1920's. The bridge's total length is a mammoth 1149 metres (3,770 ft), and according to the World Records book the bridge has the tallest arch steel frame measuring 134 meters (429.6 ft)
The bridge is accessible by many modes on transport which include, train, car toll, and walking. The bridge connects two main sides of Sydney and is frequently used by people travelling to and from work everyday. Pedestrians are also able to walk along the bridge, and there is a section from which a train service operates. If your staying in Sydney for a number of days I would try walking and taking a train through the bridge because it gives you a detailed look of the surrounding Sydney area.
Whilst staying in Sydney you may hear from a lot of travels to take the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walking Tour. My review is going to talk about the tour in more detail because I think it allows travellers a chance to see what it's all about.
The tour gives visitors a chance to walk on the bridge itself, dangling down and allowing you to see some of the greatest views anywhere in Sydney.
The tour operators give you a number of packages that you can opt for, each catering from a novice to someone who is a thrill seeker, and thus the tour will be more intense and exciting. The main tours can consist of The Express, The Discovery, and The Bridge climb.
The most popular and most famous of all is perhaps "The Bridge Climb", which is a 3 and half hour thrill seeking climb, which takes you to the outer reach of the bridge on catwalks and ladders reaching a height of 134 meters. This was one exceptional experience, because you get to see the whole city from the top of the bridge, the people, and cars look so little from that height. The views of the local Harbour, the Sydney Oprah and the city buildings are simply stunning, and its best to go on a hot summer's day as the breeze from the sea really makes you feel cool.
Safety is a big issue on the tour as you would expect all safety checks are carried out several times and an experienced, fully trained professional is in charge of the tour. Please check that you insurance covers these types of excursions, if not the tour operators can refuse to take you.
The ladders you climb are easy to follow, you are sent up in groups of 14 people, these can be people you have come with or other tourists, its also a great way to socialise with people as you cant go 3 and a half hours without doing some talking.
Before you climb you go through a safety check, which also include equipment such as a jump suite, shoes, head gear, harnesses, head lamps and a hard hat.
Prices can be slightly expensive but this is expectable as it's a long tour and it's got a lot of additional features they give you. During Monday to Sunday daytime the prices for adults are $198 and $128 for children. Alternatively you can go for the evening option which costs $258 for adults and $188 for children.
I would recommend that if you want the best possible experience you should go for the evening tour as it really is the most breathtaking experience anyone could ever experience. You can see the city in the dark with all the lights, the Sydney Oprah House lit up at night is such a treat, and the bridge itself is also lighted up.
You also have the option of choosing to climb at Dawn or at Twilight, which is when the sun sets, overlooking the bridge. This is more focused on couples and is packaged as a romantic experience, so if you are travelling with a partner it might be worth looking into these packages.
If the climbing experience is not for you, then you also have the option of making a visit to the Visitors centre which is located neatly along the pillar of the tower. It's open for anyone to come and have a visit, and is free of charge. It's a great place to come and learn more about the history of the Bridge, which shows photos of the construction stages and how it looked during the 1900's
Alternatively you could just as easily walk on the pedestrian access routes the bridge has, it's free of charge and also gives you breathtaking views. However, please bear in minds it can get noisy from the ongoing traffic.
At the end of your tour, you will receive a certificate to show that you have successfully climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
For detailed info about the tour, please visit;
On my first day in sydney, my group was taken to see the sydney harbour bridge from the botanical gardens view point. Well it looked just like a postcard, I couldnt believe I was actually seeing it!
The bridge crosses sydney harbour, and one of the best ways to see it is to go on a jet boat around the harbour. You go under it, far away from it, right up close. If you dont want to do the bridge climb which takes 3 hours and costs around 100pounds then it can always be admired from the opera house, the botanical gardens, or from the sky tower.
The bridge really dominates the central circular quay area. Recently the whole bridge was closed and grass turf was laid over it. People could buy a ticket for a picnic and have their lunch their. Crazy but seems fun!
Another way to see the bridge is to take a ferry to manly, or to darling harbour. You get a great view either way from the water.
If you go to sydney you cant really miss this spectacular sight.
I visited Sydney whilst on my honeymoon which had been booked through the tour operator Kuoni. When booking the trip we were given the option of adding attraction visits and paying for them beforehand which we thought was a good idea. We had already decided that the Bridge Climb was something that we definitely wanted to do so we didnt need to think twice when the tour operator asked us if we wished to add it to our trip. The climb was prebooked as a morning visit to take place on one of the days during our stay, the lady explained that we would be given a voucher which we would then need to take to the Bridge Climb office to book our exact slot and day for the climb to take place. This was quick and easy enough to do and we decided to come back the following day at 10am for our climb. Very excited and couldn't wait!
When we came back the next day we handed over our pre paid voucher and were guided into a room where we were given some health and safety rules which needed to be followed and had to fill out a form. There is a big wall display of celebrities who have climbed the bridge so we enjoyed looking at all the pictures whilst we were waiting for our turn. Once all the form filling had been completed we were provided with our climbing suits we went over our clothes. You are adivsed to remove anything loose and to leave behind anything such as cameras and mobile phones. You are allowed to take sunglasses but these need to be attached to a piece of material around your neck to stop them from falling. You are also provided with elastic bands if need be to tie your hair back as it can get very windy at the top.
You are then taken into the practice room along with other climbers, from memory I think there is about 15 in a group give or take a few. You have a quick ice breaker session where you introduce yourself to other members of your group and tell them a little about yourself and state an interesting fact. I personally hate these kind of things, but it is over and done with quite quickly and you then move on to get the rest of your equipment to attach to your climbing suit which is just like a dark grey boiler suit.
Once you have collected all the equipment require for your climb, you are taken to a small section of assembled bridge where you are shown how to attach yourself to the bridge. You are connected at all points on top of the bridge to prevent you from falling but it is important how to understand how to move it from one section of the bridge to the next without any difficulties, so for this reason you have a couple of attempts at doing this is the main building first before you go out to the bridge.
Your guide will then lead you out to the bridge. You start out underneath the bridge. I actually found this bit to be the scariest as it is still very high and you are walking over grids with holes in them so you can see straight down everytime to take a step and they also felt a bit wobbly. You then climb up several ladders alongside all the cars whizzing past until you get the start of the actually bridge walk on the top. Your guide will tell you some of the history about the bridge during your walk and some interesting facts. You dont walk over the entire bridge, you walk up to the halfway point and then cross over the middle and then walk down again on the opposite side.
The view is amazing and is really breathtaking. Unfortunately they dont allow you to take your own pictures for safety reasons, however I expect that this is actually more to do with the fact that they stop at four points throughout the walk to take souvenir pictures to sell you at the end of your walk. Given that this is probably a once in a lifetime experience for most people the chances of you splashing the cash to buy these photos is very high as you obviously want a memento of your experience. From memory I dont think these were too expensive, but it still annoys me.
At the end of your walk you return all your equipment and are shown the exit out of the walk area, of course this leads you straight into a shop where you can purchase numerous items of memoribilia.
The cost of this trip is about £50-60 for a normal day time walk. I believe that you can also do night walks to see the city at night and if you want it to be a more private experience you can pay a premium to go in a smaller group.
Overall it is a great experience, quite pricey, but a must do visit when in Sydney.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge stands over one of the most beautiful harbours in the world and is one of the most iconic symbols of Australia, being seen in millions of photos of the harbour worldwide and being a backdrop to the Sydney Opera House and the midnight firework celebrations every New Year's Eve. Opened in 1932 it is the world's largest (not longest) bridge, costing over $10 million to build and consisting of 8 lanes of traffic, a footpath, a cycleway and 2 train lines between Sydney's CBD and the North Shore of the harbour.
Since 1998 tourists have been able to climb the bridge to take in the spectacular view of the surroundings and thousands of people have now done this climb including many celebrities, and you can now even get married at the very peak of the bridge. There are two types of climbs that you can choose from, The Bridge Climb or The Discovery Climb, each lasting 3.5 hours.
The Bridge Climb
This is the most popular climb which takes you to the very top of the Harbour Bridge, 134 meters/440 feet above sea level. You gradually ascend up the upper arch of the bridge until you reach the very peak in the centre giving you some amazing views of the city and off into the distance from every angle. You will then descend some ladders and walk back along the lower arch of the bridge.
The Discovery Climb
This climb doesn't take you quite as high so this option is better for those with fears of heights (although neither option is really that great for a someone with a fear of heights!). You will climb along the lower arch of the bridge and, once you reach the centre, you will get the chance to climb up the stairs to the very summit of the bridge. Then you will come back down to the lower level and make your way back over the bridge.
You can pick which time you'd like to do your climb and this effects the price:
Dawn - adult $295, child $195 (1st Saturday of each month)
Day - adult $189, child $119 (Monday-Friday), adult $199, child $129 (Saturday-Sunday)
Twilight - adult $249, child $189
Night - adult $179, child $109
We picked the day option but did it later on in the day so that we actually got some twilight as well and got the view as the sun was setting which was just gorgeous.
They are very health and safety conscious regarding the bridge climb and you have to turn up about an hour before your climb time so that you can go through all the health and safety rules and have a practice down on the ground. Before anything else you are required to take an alcohol breath test and sign a declaration form just confirming that you're OK to climb. As long as you pass the breath test, all your possessions are then stored in a safe locker and you're not allowed take anything up with you apart from glasses or sunglasses. Obviously you're not allowed to take a camera or video camera up there as it's a huge height to drop from and would undoubtedly kill someone on the ground. You should wear comfortable and tight walking shoes/trainers and they give you a grey and blue bridge suit (like a jump suit) to wear over your clothes. You do look really stupid in this but everyone else looks exactly the same so you don't need to worry!
Once you're all dressed and ready, you then gear up by strapping the things you'll need onto your bridge suit such as glasses/sunglasses, a hat or hanky (if needed), gloves and fleece for cold weather, a communications device (microphone and earphones so that you can hear and speak to the guide and group), and, of course, the safety harness. You do not need to worry about falling off the bridge as the safety harness attaches to your suit and this is attached to the bridge at all times. You are then guided through what the walk will consist of and shown how to use all the items attached to you.
At first, it's quite scary getting out there on the bridge but it's an easy walk and you soon get used to it. I'm fine with heights but I hate walking on floors with the holes in that you can see through and there's quite a few of these to go over which made me panic a bit. You shouldn't get worn out on the climb as the arch is a very gradual incline that takes you slowly upwards. As you are walking your guide will take you through the sights around you and tell you about the history of the bridge. You can use your microphone to ask any questions and to interact with the rest of the group. The guide will take some pictures of you, either individually, with family and friends, or with the rest of the group, at various stages along the way so that you aren't left without any permanent memories of it. A group photo is included in the price of the climb but any extra photos you have to pay for at the end. These weren't expensive though (if I remember rightly it cost us $15 for 4 photos in a sleeve) and they were really great pictures.
From the top you can view the Sydney Opera House, Sydney's CBD and the whole of Sydney, as well as being able to see miles out to the surrounding areas and, on a clear day, even as far away as the Blue Mountains. The views are simply breathtaking and just the feeling of being that high up is astounding.
Although very expensive, this is one of those things that you just have to do when you visit Sydney and the money is well worth it. It's one of the main attractions in the whole of Australia and feels like a real achievement to have got to the top. When you're back on the ground and looking up at the bridge, you just can't believe that you've been all the way up there!
How often do you get the chance to climb the most iconic building of a nation? Well not very, but for around 50-60pound you can climb the tower bridge in Sydney.
When i arrived i was met by somebody who had been travelling for a while and he told me that climbing the bridge was the highlight of his stay in OZ, i was dubious as it was quite expensive to climb, and i didnt really think it would be worth it.
I left Sydney without climbing the bridge, yet returned a few months later to see my girlfriend, who decided to pay for me for my 21st birthday present.
The money was well worth it, now you can do a different climb which actually takes you into the heart of the bridge and is more adventerous, however is a bit more expensive. We did the normal climb and the views were amazing, you could see all across sydney to smaller suburbs miles away!
One word of warning would be that like normal, the photos are very expensive, about 30pound for a complete portfolio, i do however regret not buying these.
The chap who took us on the walk was incredibly friendly and went beyond the call of duty as a tour guide. The overall experience was very insightful and also fun! What more could you ask for?
'If you only do one thing in Sydney, you must climb the Bridge', a friend had told me. After spending three weeks in this fantastic city, with the world famous outline of the Bridge dominating many viewpoints, and having walked over it and passed under it in ferries several times, I decided that I must do the climb. Leaving it for a while had been deliberate, I'd been looking at, and photographing, the bridge from all angles at different times of day and night, and after standing on the Opera House quays on a particularly fine arvo (that's Strine for afternoon) and watching the sunset infuse the sky with shades of red and yellow, I decided to climb at the same time on the next day, in order to catch the sunset which reached its glorious peak at about 16h30 (mid June). Fortunately, I didn't make a booking. I woke up feeling a bit 'crook' (that's Strine for 'poorly' - and it wasn't a hangover), but by midday, feeling better, I rang Bridge Climb and their very helpful reservations office said the earliest booking was 15h30, which meant being on top of the Bridge at about 17h30 - too late to catch sunset. With the helpfulness and willingness to please with permeates the Australian hospitality industry, the lady suggested that I came up as soon as I could and stood by. I arrived at 14h20 and was booked in for 14h35. Couldn't ask for more! Another of many situations in Australia where service delivery exceeded expectation. I paid A$160 - a surcharge because it was a public holiday (strange that for a country which has a strong Republican movement, they still celebrate the birthday of a woman called Elizabeth Windsor). At this point, if you are thinking that this is a lot of money, for what you get, it's possibly the best deal going. Bear in mind also that the man who started Bridge Climb put A$20 million into it over 10 years. Huge amounts have been invested in equipment and safet
y procedures, and the unit cost per climber must be high too, given that the protective clothing appeared to be freshly laundered. Check in and kitting up procedures have been described in other opinions here, so I won't waste time on that, save to say that the attention to detail in terms of both safety and comfort, is impressive. There are so many safety procedures in place that falling, or even jumping off, would be almost impossible. I was also impressed by the efforts of the staff to make the climbers feel at ease with the procedures, the equipment, and with each other. From the beginning of the procedures until the first steps towards the bridge are taken, almost an hour is passed. It is important, but fun, and goes quickly. From the first point on the climb along the narrow horizontal catwalks, climbers are secured by a rolling safety line which passes over a continuous wire, and from which it is impossible to become detached until journey's end, some 2 kilometres of walking later. (The line has a shock breaking strain of 2 tonnes.) There is no strenuous climbing, the hardest parts being four sets of steps on each side, taking climbers onto and off the arches. Parts of the catwalk are narrow, and it would be difficult for a very large (as in 'diametrically challenged') person to negotiate them. The climb begins on the Eastern Arch, with frequent pauses for commentary and a couple of photo stops on the way up, the panoramas becoming more and more spectacular with the increasing height. At a guess, I'd say we reached the summit of the eastern arch about 120 minutes after check in. Crossing the highest point of the arch, as we passed under the Blinking Billy beacon, between the two flags, the climb leader asked everybody to make a wish. It was also at this point that he told us about Vincent Kelly, a labourer who fell from the roadway, during the construction, into the wate
r, was rescued, and was back at work three weeks later. The luck of the Irish! The width of the bridge spans eight traffic lanes, two railway tracks, a cycleway, and a walkway. From the western side, as the sun dipped towards the horizon, we enjoyed beautiful views up the Paramatta River towards the Blue Mountains. We lingered until the sun slipped behind light cloud banks on the horizon, lighting up high feathered cirrus clouds higher in the sky in shades of pink and gold, in a kaleidoscopic display, reflecting in the gentle waters. As we moved slowly and reluctantly down the arch, the light began to fail and the transition between day and dusk overtook us. By the time we reached the base, it was dark. After removing the protective clothing, and filling in a questionnaire, indicative of the high standards Bridge Climb set, we went through to the shop and were each given a certificate and a group photograph. Our climb leader had taken individual photographs, and these could be purchased for between A$15 - 25 depending on size. The shop also sells a range of clothing and other souvenirs. Sydney is packed with sights and experiences, but this is the summit of all of them. Like so much in Australia, the staff clearly enjoy their work, and are enthusiastic, cheerful, motivated, and thoroughly professional, achieving that rare combination of being able to tackle a serious task in a humorous way. If you're afraid of heights, this might cure you. There was a girl in our group who was very apprehensive before the start, but after the experience said she'd only had a few initial moments of discomfort. As for safety, it's probably the safest thing you'll ever do!
In many ways the Sydney Harbour Bridge is more imposing than the Australian capitals more famous landmark the Opera House. Heresy scream the purists but as you arrive at Sydney Harbour it is hard to verbalise the spectacle that is the thousands of tonnes of steel climbing into the clouds. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is now in its 70th year but remains a wonderful example of innovative engineering. Spanning Sydney Harbour at its narrowest point, the Bridge connects the Central Business District to the cities North Shore. The Bridge is wide enough to accommodate four lanes of traffic as well as a railway line and two pedestrian walkways. Tolls have been in existence since day one and the current charge is $3 each way. This doesn't seem to dissuade users, however, as the number of vehicle crossings per day is close to a quarter of a million. If you are visiting Sydney taking the train to Circular Quay is often the first stop on your itinerary. As you leave the station there are so many attractions within walking distance that is often too much for the senses take in. Along with the Opera House and the Bridge there is the wonderful green belt that is the Botanical Gardens. The revitalised Docklands of Darling Harbour is only a mere skip away as well. For sheer spectacle though it the Harbour Bridge that will catch your eye (the Opera House is smaller than you might think!) and eventually your heart. The Bridge has remained imperious while an emerging city searched for its own distinct personality and its people stopped looking to Europe for inspiration. Standing in the Rocks area of the harbour it can look like the Bridge is part of a huge canvas designed by movie moguls for their next big hit. It doesn't look real standing there like a scalectrix fanatics most impressive creation magnified one thousand times. THE HISTORY The project to buil
d the Sydney Harbour Bridge took 8 years in total. An army of workers were required in the construction and such jobs were highly prized at a time of severe economic depression, so much so that the Bridge was dubbed the 'iron lung' because of the lifeline it threw to the city's struggling inhabitants. With Australia's colonial history it wasn't much of a surprise that the contract to build the Bridge was awarded to a British engineering company called Dormon and Long. 200 stone masons even travelled from Scotland to cut the stone for the pylons and incredibly had a town called Moruya purpose built for them. 80% of the steel for the Bridge was imported from the UK which must have meant huge logistical headaches as the trip by boat took up to 8 weeks. The rest of the steel was manufactured locally. Controversy was rife during construction. The entire budget was 4.2 million pounds (the currency of the time was sterling) but by completion this had more than doubled. Worse still was the fact that 16 workers were to die on the project. The misery didn't end there however as 800 households on either side of the Harbour were evicted without compensation to make way for construction. The drama continued right up to the day of the opening ceremony. A right wing extremist named Francis De Groot arrived on horse back just as the ceremonial ribbon was about to be cut. Drawing his sabre he slashed the ribbon in two drawing a temporary halt to proceedings while a new one was located. Incredibly he escaped with a fine of 9 pounds for a breach of the peace. At the time it was unveiled the financiers of the project believed that the Bridge would would be the longest of its kind in the world. The startling discovery that the newly opened Bayonne Bridge in New York was 70 centimetres longer came as a crushing blow. Over the years the Bridge ha
s had a say in the events that have shaped the city the Sydney of today. Way back in 1986 two protesters somehow scaled to the top of the bridge to hang a defiant banner to 'Stop Nuclear Testing Now'. The Olympic spirit was brought to life when a replica of the five Olympic rings were depicted using 170,000 lights attached to the Bridge's steel beams. New Years Eve 1999 saw the message of Eternity emblazoned in giant lettering. THE FACTS * Even though the shape of the Bridge would lead you to believe otherwise there are in fact no curved pieces of metal in its makeup. * Applying 3 coats of paint to the bridge took over 270,000 litres of the stuff. * During construction 8 workers fell to their death (not sure how the other 8 were killed). It never dawned on the construction firm to install safety nets. Perhaps today's exorbitant insurance rates are not such a bad thing after all! In contrast San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge had safety nets dubbed 'The Half Way To Hell Club' installed to catch falling workers. * The support pylons that spread the length of the structure are superfluous. They were added to ease the concerns of a public unwilling to risk life and limb to get to the other side of the harbour! * At the height of construction more than 1,600 workers were directly employed on the project. * The Bridge spans just over 500 metres compared to the Golden Gates' monstrous 1,300 metres. * With the changes in the seasons the Bridge expands and contracts to a degree of 18cm. Lucky then, that it has over 100 moving parts to overcome this potentially disastrous condition. * The most famous to person to work on the bridge (as a rigger) was actor Paul Hogan. THE CLIMB One of Sydney most publicised attractions is the climb to the top arch of the bridge and back down again. Paul Cave, an Australian entrepreneur first thought of the idea after escorting a group to the top as part of a sightseeing tour of Sydney for visiting businessmen. That event led to 9 years of planning for Cave and $20 million to satisfy the local councils safety concerns for the general public who wished to partake in the climb. The journey from the ground to the clouds and back down again takes 3 hours in total. The climb's are organised to take place in groups of up to a dozen people. At any time there can be several groups at various degrees of gradient. From the ground the brave souls look no bigger than matchstick men with each group seemingly moving perfectly as a unit (although its hard to spot nervous shivers from such a distance!). All climbers wear solemn grey overalls and are locked onto a safety cable that is secured to a rail that runs the full length to the top. Prices for the climb are cheapest during the week at $125 (75 euro) per person. Weekend and night time climbs cost a prohibitive $150. The first ascent begins at 5am with runs (well walks really!) throughout the day until 2am. With a staggering 1,300 making the pilgrimage each day it is no wonder that 750,000 have worn the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb T-shirt with pride. Today the Bridge climb is a multi million dollar business and there is talk that tours may soon run round the clock. THE BUDGET ALTERNATIVE For those of you with dubious financial worth there are a few cheapskate alternatives to doing the climb. There is a pedestrian walkway that stretches on either side all the way along the bridge. For those looking for a unique experience in the crossing there is much to saviour in the walk. Th
e feeling of being up unnaturally high is certainly evident. We felt dizzy with the constant stream of traffic throwing in discernible wobbles that had me at least clinging to the sides like a baby koala. The view is wonderful once you find a hole in the protective guards that is there to dissuade those with suicidal tendencies (they were installed less than 18 months after the opening of the bridge as a result of 40 suicides). Watching the toy boats pass underneath is a joy and the perfect model of an Opera House in the near distance has you realising what a truly great city Sydney is. For an uncluttered view it is possible to climb one of the four pylons (on the Rocks side) for $5. Here you get almost as high as the intrepid climbers but there is at least some decent leg room to calm those height jitters. For those enervated by the thought of walking there is always the train or car option. Of course the views are obstructed (why not pull the emergency cord to get a lasting impression, only messing!) and nothing can compare to the fresh air experience but at least lazy people have the opportunity to partially enjoy the view. WHAT A FELINE Legend has it that an army of white furry cats have made the towering metalwork their home. Stories of people seeing little balls of fluff skirt up and down the beams are commonplace. The cats whose feet never touch the ground are supposed to be deaf. Quite how the cats manage to survive is a question that only the Loch Ness monster himself could answer. THE FUTURE In terms of geographical spread Sydney is the biggest city in the world. This has ultimately led to a huge proportion of the population living north of the Harbour. The exponential growth of daily traffic across the main crossing point is unsustainable, so much so, that it is predicted th
at within a couple of decades several alternatives to the Bridge will have to be put in place (whether under or over ground). Whatever the future holds it is extremely unlikely that nothing the dreamers can imagine will overshadow Sydney's greatest shadow maker.
When I visited Sydney last year the only thing I was determined to do before I got there was the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb. I pre-booked the climb through Thomas Cook Holidays, they offer both a day and night climb, the day climb is approx £60. You can either pre-book in the UK or book when you get there. I opted for the day climb. It was late October when I traveled to Australia. When you arrive in Sydney it's well worth finding the bridge climb centre/office before you are due to climb as it took me about 30mins to find it! On the morning I was due to climb the heavens opened and I of course had no waterproofs!! On arrival at the centre I handed over my voucher and waited in anticipation. You are put into small groups of about 12 people - the first thing you need to do is pass a breathalyzer test, I had been pre-warned about this so no heavy drinking the night before!!! You are then shown a safety video and then you are kitted out for the climb. Boiler suit, gloves, hat etc. Because the weather was not fantastic we were also given waterproof cover pants and had a bum bag that contained a waterproof jacket. All loose items i.e. glasses/hats/gloves have to be strapped to you. No cameras are allowed on the climb. Your are then given the safety equipment. At all times you are attached to a safety rail. You are then shown how to move along sections using the safety rails (not sure if this is a comfort but I noticed that the safety harness was made in the UK!!!!). Finally your are given your radio and ear-piece which is how the tour guide communicates with the group. Then comes the walk to the start point - by this time I was still not sure about the whole thing!!! Each group sets off about 20 mins apart. You attach yourself to the safety rail, step through a hole in a thick wall and there it is!!!! You start on a flat area of the bridge over roads etc still quite a distance up though!!. BE WARNED IF YOUR A
RE AFFRAID OF HEIGHTS THIS IS NOT FOR YOU!!! You then approx the base of the first bridge support. At all times the guide is giving you information/history about the bridge. Here starts the ladder climbs. None of the tour is difficult but the worst part is when you climb one ladder which brings you up in-between the busy roads on the bridge - all there is between you and fast moving cars on both sides of you is a perspex sheet!! You then start your assent up the main bridge. The views are breath-taking to say the least!!!! The tour is taken at a steady, easy to follow pace with plenty of information and viewing stops. Been there during the Olympics we were shown the damage caused by the fireworks on the bridge. Once you reach the top, your guide gets the camera out for individual and group photos. The group photo is free and you can pay for any others. You then make the cross over right at the very top and then start your decent down the other side. I have to say the views from this side are not as interesting but still worth seeing. Again you descend nice are steadily back to the centre where you remove all you safety gear and collect your photos in the souvenir shop!! The bridge climb is well worth the money, the guides are fantastic and I feel so privileged to have been able to do this. I would recommend it to anybody. Next time I will be doing the night climb!!!! I think this is the only bridge were you can do this anywhere in the world. It was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. The whole tour took most of the morning. I am not sure what the situation is regarding children/minimum age limits.
Most people could probably have a fair stab at drawing the Sydney Harbour Bridge from memory – it’s one of the world’s classic structures along with other icons like Tower Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and so on. Carrying roadways, railways, cycle-ways and pedestrian footpaths across the harbour since the 1930’s, the Bridge has recently taken up a new mantle, that of a “soft” adventure. I’m talking about scaling it on foot. Sounds dangerous – not really, I’ve just done it. For most of its life, its upper girders have been the domain of seagulls and painters (the boiler-suited variety, not French impressionists). Now you too can climb up and over the “Coathanger” as it’s affectionately known. For A$125, you get either the view or fright of a lifetime, depending on your head for heights. You need to budget a whole half-day for this venture. Safety is taken very seriously (naturally) and this occupies the first hour or so of your time with the “Bridge People”. Entry to the Bridge Climb is via their offices in Cumberland St under the ramp to the bridge itself close by “The Rocks” area. Induction to a group involves donning some rather nifty grey overalls (it’s this year’s brown, y’know), the idea being that you should blend in with the paintwork (also grey). You need to be wearing sensible grippy shoes and be fit enough to climb a lot, and I do mean a lot, of stairs. The bridge stands roughly the same height as the London Eye off the water (approx 150 metres) Safety cannot be stressed enough in this venture, and any risk that you might drop something on a passing motorist and kill them needs to be eradicated. For this reason, you can’t take a camera with you, and even your own hankie is taboo. If you need one, they give you one on an elastic wrist strap! You get a group photo as part of the package, take
n when you get to “top dead centre”, but a personal portrait cost another 25 bucks. The initial walk out involves walking along the underside of the metal ramp sections high above the street level below, on that open weave flooring they use on oil platforms – don’t look down!…too late, I already did! To my mind, what with the sudden rumble of passing trains overhead, and a howling side-wind, this is where I felt the most uncomfortable. You are tethered to a continuous safety cable by a personal cable attached around your waist. This clicks through the various eyelets along the main cable’s path. Nonetheless, I found myself constantly having to be reminded that it was quite safe. They took a long time persuading the authorities to allow the bridge to be used for this, and they are not going to be put out of business by a lapse in safety. You just have to keep telling yourself this as your human crocodile edges along. Once you have passed through one of the famous decorative masonry pylons, it’s time to get vertical and ascend to the top of the arched girder that is going to be home for an hour or so. This is the steepest part, before emerging atop the actual girder. The latter are reassuringly flat and wide. The footpath itself is quite narrow, with handrails close to you (thank God). For the squeamish, this does prevent you from getting an actual vertical downwards eyeful, but the impression of height is still quite daunting. Onward and upward, goes the intrepid band, pausing for breathe at regular intervals. As you near the top, the climb levels out. At top dead centre there is a massive Aussie flag flying strongly in the aforementioned side-wind. The only weather they always avoid is thunder and lightning! The rest is subject to individual decision on the day. Having got the photos out of the way, you then start down. This is where I got the collywobbles. With a clear
view of how far down it was, a certain degree of buttock clenching was done, I can tell you. “Don’t be a wuss, mate, we had a lady of a 100 up here a while back” says your friendly guide. “Probably couldn’t see the ground though”, I thought to myself. Oh, yes, the view. If you’re brave enough, by all means have a look round., after all, you might not want to do this twice! A “soft” adventure maybe, but one that you’ll be able to dine out on amongst those with absolutely no head for heights for months afterwards.
If you ever find yourself in Sydney the bridge climb is pretty much a must-do item.It looks daunting from the ground but really is not too differcult.In their photo gallery they have a picture of a 100 year old woman who has done it! The total time for the trip is 3 hours & all equipment is provided,from overalls to hankies with elastic sewn to them,so that you can attatch them to your wrist in order that you can't drop them onto the traffic below. Before you start everyone is breathylised.Next you get kitted out with all the paraphenalia you need.A harness is provided to clip to safety rail that runs the entire length of the tour,if you're with others & want to stay together make sure you start together because you will be in that order the entire trip. There is a small practice gantry to negotiate before collecting radio sets so the guide can talk to everyone.After all this it's up onto the bridge proper.The trip starts on the south pier & goes up to the centre,across & back down to the south pier,so you end up where you began. The guide takes a number of digital photos during the trip of which you get one free & you can buy any of the others if you wish.
I admit it, I actually chickened out of doing the Bridge climb which had been my intention. Kitted out in special jumpsuits, you are taken up in groups and actually climb all the way to the top of the bridge. You have to do a two hour training session, and you can't even take your own camera so in the end I decided against it. Nevertheless, whether you feel like braving the elements, it's still worth walking across the bridge. For one thing, you'll keep seeing the thing wherever you are in Sydney so you might as well see it from close up. It's a tremendous looking creation, and walking across it takes very little time. Moreover, the views from the bridge are quite spectacular. You can see the Circular Quay waterfront and quite a bit of the outlying city beyond the centre, but best of all, you get to see the Opera House in context. It kind of looks like it's on an island from a lot of places, but from the Harbour bridge you can see how it fits in with the rest of the city. Make sure you take a walk across while you're in the city.
""Probably one of Sydney, and indeed Australia's, most well-known landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge a.k.a. "the coathanger". It is the world's "largest" (not "longest") steel arch bridge and has dominated the Sydney skyline since 1932 after 9 years of construction.""