Mankind asserts its dominance over the earth in three ways – building things, destroying things, and climbing things. Like Mount Everest and the Great Wall of China, Sydney offers the brilliant experience of climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Bridge Climb opened to the public in 1998 and since then, over 3 million people have climbed Sydney’s giant ‘Coathanger’, including scores of celebrities and sports superstars.
The Bridge Fast Facts
- The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the busiest road in Australia.
- Construction took 9 years to complete, employing 1400 workers, and was officially opened on the 19th of March 1932.
- The bridge is 1,149m long, 49m wide and 134m tall.
- Over 6 million rivets were used to hold all the massive steel pieces together – all hand hammered into place. For the tricky spots that didn’t have any safety access, an unharnessed worker would stand on the beams with a baseball mitt style glove while a second worker would heat up a rivet until it was white hot. He would then throw it to the gloved guy, who had to catch and hammer it in within seconds. As it cooled, the rivet would shrink and hold the beams together.
- An Irish guy named Kelly fell 50m off the bridge into the water. He copped two broken ribs, and his boots split and ended up around his thighs. He was given a gold watch as compensation and was back at work in 4 weeks. He became a local hero and people would buy him beers at the pub to hear his story.
- The granite that makes up the two pylons at each end of the bridge was quarried in Moruya, 300km south of Sydney. The pylons are not load-bearing – they are 100% aesthetic.
My experience started at the Climb Base, where I got to have a look at photos of celebrities who have done the Climb. In the pre-prep room, there were 11 other people who would be in my group – six Americans, two Brits, one Mexican, one Ecuadorian, and one other Aussie. The room was buzzing with nervous excitement.
After a quick breath test, our instructor gave us overalls so we could start getting suited up. With our pockets emptied and overalls on, we strapped ourselves into our safety harnesses and started accessorising – clip on cap, beanie, hankie, warm fleecy jumper (in case of cold), water proof jacket (in case of rain), and a radio. Once the radio check was complete, our tour guide Richard led us out.
We emerged underneath the bridge and clipped our safety harness onto the cable, where we would be attached for the next 90 minutes. The first thing I noticed was the noise of the traffic above. We ducked and weaved our way through the underside of the bridge until we went through a hatch and popped up at road level. This was the noisiest point of the climb – eight lanes of cars plus two lanes for trains can be quite deafening.
As we climbed the inner arch, the traffic noise slowly disappeared and the breath-taking views came into sight. We gazed out at the Sydney Opera House and looked back at the city. To highlight the growth of Sydney, Richard pointed out two buildings – the ANZ building, which was the tallest back in the mid-60s, and another Victorian style building that was the tallest in 1932 when the bridge was opened.
We reached the top of the bridge and reeled at the all the activity below. Cruise ships and ferries in the beautiful green waters of Sydney Harbour, Fort Denison, Kirribilli House, and the cliffs at Manly in the distance. We also spotted the other bridges that span the harbour – Gladstone Bridge was constructed in the 1960s and Anzac Bridge was erected in the 1990s. From the top, there were incredible 360 degree views from the Pacific in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west.
A few days later I found out Eva Longoria was in my Bridge Climb group. After Juz told me Eva Longoria s a famous actress, we looked at the group photo and Juz pointed her out to me.
Bridge Climb experiences vary from express climbs to precisely timed sunrise and sunset climbs. It’s perfect for corporate groups, birthday gifts, and very unique weddings. For more information on the Bridge Climb, visit http://www.bridgeclimb.com/