Day 12: Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge


In my final full day in Sydney, I took part in one of the city’s most popular attractions — the BridgeClimb.  Tickets for the BridgeClimb are rather expensive, anywhere between $200 and $300 AUD, depending on what time of day you go (sunset and weekends are more expensive), but the experience is truly unique and, in my opinion, well worth the price of admission.

I arrived at the BridgeClimb entrance area early, so I was able to go with an earlier group than what I had originally scheduled.  I was very glad I did, because there were gale force winds in Sydney later that day.  The BridgeClimb staff puts the groups through about an hour and a half of orientation, waiver signing, passing out the equipment and preparation for climbing the bridge.  They actually give everyone a breathalyzer test before making the journey.  An Irish backpacker I met in Sydney told me that he actually failed it and they made him go at a later time.

After suiting everyone up with harnesses, headsets and other gear, the guide led us outside to climb the bridge.  I was a little nervous at first, but this dissipated quickly as I never felt unsafe the whole time.  There are a few moments where you really feel high up, but at no time do you feel like you’re making a precarious climb.  It’s all steps and some ladders and you’re hooked in the entire time.

The guide gave us the history of the construction of the bridge and its importance to the city of Sydney.  The bridge is a steel arch bridge, designed by engineer John Bradfield, who modeled the design after New York City’s Hell Gate Bridge.  There are portions of the bridge made of concrete, but they are actually only decorative and are not needed to support the structure.  Construction of the bridge began in 1923 and ended in 1932.  The bridge has become an iconic symbol of Sydney, in addition to the Sydney Opera House.  It looms large every New Year’s Eve, when the bridge serves as a launching pad for thousands of fireworks.

The views from the top of the bridge are amazing.  You get exceptional views of the Sydney Opera House and the surrounding area.  There was a bit of haze from the fires in the Blue Mountains, but the winds started picking up and the haze began to disappear.  We could even see the North Head and Manly way out in the distance near the top of the bridge.

In comparison to other bridges, the Sydney Harbour Bridge had very few deaths during its construction.  One construction worker fell from the bridge but managed to position himself into a diving position as he was falling and managed to survive with only a few broken bones.  He was back at work on the bridge soon after recovery.  The tour guide saved these harrowing stories for after we were on our way down from the heights of the bridge.




Unfortunately, they don’t let you take your camera up the bridge with you on the climb, purportedly for your safety, but probably so they can sell you photos for high prices.  The photos above I took from the Pylon Lookout, which you can get into for free with your BridgeClimb ticket.  If you don’t want to spend the money on the BridgeClimb, visiting the Pylon Lookout is a good alternative, costing $13 AUD.  There, you can obtain the history of the bridge through the exhibits in the lookout and take some amazing pictures.  Nevertheless, I thought the BridgeClimb experience was wonderful and I would love to try the climb again at sunset if I happen to make it back to Sydney.


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