I guessed the Opera House, did you? I was wrong. I hope that you weren't.
According to Lonely Planet, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is the number one tourist attraction in all of New South Wales. It is also richly admired and heavily used by the locals. It can, of course be driven over, but it can also be walked across, cycled across, climbed, seen from a train, and, of course, sailed under. I was fortunate enough to walk and drive across and to climb up it. I even met some hardy souls skateboarding across. It is the most massive structure in Sydney and can be glimpsed from some very unexpected places within Sydney.
Nicknamed "The Coathanger" because of its arch-based design, it opened in 1932 and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the world's widest long-span bridge. It is also the fifth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world, and is the tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 134 meters (440 ft) from top to water level. Until 1967 the Harbor Bridge was Sydney's tallest structure.
A harbor bridge was first proposed in 1815 but serious planning did not begin until 1912. When it finally began on 28 July 1923, construction of the bridge coincided with the construction of a system of underground railways in Sydney's CBD (Central Business District), known today as the City Circle, and the bridge was designed with this in mind. Designed to carry four lanes of road traffic, flanked on each side by two railway tracks and a footpath, both sets of rail tracks were linked into the underground Wynyard railway station on the south (city) side of the bridge by symmetrical ramps and tunnels. Plans for the north end were more nebulous and have changed several times over the past 80 years.
The bridge was formally opened on Saturday, 19 March 1932.
In his 1951 book, "Return to Paradise," James Michener said,
"To get on in Australia, you must make two observations. Say, "You have the most beautiful bridge in the world" and "They tell me you trounced England again in the cricket." The first statement will be a lie. Sydney Bridge [sic] is big, utilitarian and the symbol of Australia, like the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower. But it is very ugly. No Australian will admit this."
There are two very different ways to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Being cheap and not a mountain climber anyway, I simply climbed the 200 steps of the bridge’s South East Pylon to its 87 meter summit at a cost of about Aus$2. Some of my more daring, and richer, friends suited themselves up and strapped themselves to the exoskeleton of the bridge, at a cost of approximately Aus$200, to climb all the way to the 134 meter (~ 400 foot) ultimate top of the bridge.
You can see both Harbour Bridge and the Opera House by going to Circular Quay. We walked across the bridge though on the pavement, not on the bridge climb! There were great views on the way.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on March 19th 1932 by Premier Jack Lang. It took six years to build. The bridge is made of steel and contains 6 million hand driven rivets.
If you have the courage and energy to do this climb it is well worth the outcome. Only 1 company offers the trip up, It's called Bridgeclimb. The only down side about this adventure is that you can't take your own camera for the fear that you might drop it into traffic down below !!!!! but of course your travel guide has a camera ready to take pictures of you.....at $20 there a bit pricey but where will you get such a breathtaking picture with the gorgeous city of Sydney in the back round ??, we did the climb at sunrise and the words to describe it could not be put into soooo many words !!!!!! a MUST DO !!!!!!!!! but don't try if your scared of heights !!!!
UPDATE : MAY 2008
Price now is $179 AU for the climb and no group rates !!!!!
This bridge can be driven over, walked across, cycled across, climbed, seen from a train, and, of course, sailed under. For some reason I decided that we needed to go across to the other side because that would be a good place to see the Opera House. So on our last day, I got a taxi and had him drive us across the bridge to the other side.
We didn't climb it, but not because of fear of heights. It was lack of time and, on my part, bad knees that prevented us. Otherwise I would certainly have done that. (Although the ban on photographs would have been a reason not to go)
One side of the harbour bridge allows pedestrians the other side is for bicycles.There is also the pylon lookout which is worth the view,far less expensive than paying for the bridge climb for the same view.
My first view of this bridge was from the ferry. Then I saw it from the Opera House. We drove across the bridge in a taxi, and took some photos from underneath on the other side. We also saw part of it from the Sydney Tower.
I understand the bridge can be climbed, but we didn't do that.
SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE
.Have some spare time?? Take a walk over the bridge !!.Check out the view from the roadway sidewalk (footpath). Its fantastic..What a great photo opportunity looking across the Harbour to the east or west , or the panorama of the city skyline . This is a great photo opportunity at night.. and it's free. The walk across the bridge is a longer walk than you may think and its not flat. Entrance to the bridge walkway is from either the City end at the "Rocks" or catch a ferry or bus over to Milsons Point and walk back. When arriving by train or ferry you will have to climb the stairs up onto the bridge..but firstly ,have a walk under and around the bridge . Underneath the bridge is a lovely large lawned area where local North Sydney office workers sit and eat their lunch and chat.
Stop for a coffee here as this is a lovely leafy little local suburb. This is a really pleasant way to spend some time and I quite often do this walk when friends fromO/S visit Sydney.. IT'S FREE
If you're afraid of heights, this is probably not the thing for you. But if you're looking to get a great unique view of the Sydney Harbor and an experience you'll remember for a lifetime, head to the Harbor Bridge and climb on up.
All right, kids... the previous tip spoke of Sydney's Harbour Bridge, and even told you of a way to improve your view of the city FROM the bridge via the Pylon Lookout.
Now, we get serious. As you've heard, you are allowed to actually CLIMB the Harbour Bridge. That's right....you can freaking climb the bridge, on TOP of it. Shudder....
So, if you're the super adventurous type, or if your friends are pressuring you to try and you can't find a way to save face, here's the scoop. As for the Aussiedoug angle, here it is... Doug's wife Kerry bought him a gift climb of the Harbour for Christmas. Doug still hasn't cashed it in, for a variety of reasons. All of them seemed good to me, but still.... Doug's gotta climb this bridge pretty soon, or Kerry's out a pile of money.
People have been allowed to climb the bridge since 1998. The experience takes about 3 hours. You check in at BridgeClimb, over at the SE part of the bridge. Climbers leave in small groups every 10 minutes or so. You wear a bridge suit, you're harnessed to a line. You are also breath-tested for alcohol and are banned from carrying ANYTHING, including cameras. The cost for a daylight climb is around A$200 for adults (as of 2011, per my VT pal mallyak), and a bit less for kids aged 12-16. Twilight climbs are more.
OK two things.... I hear the climb is spectacular. And second, I can't relate personal experience. Two reasons are that it's pricy AND I hate that ban on cameras. Hell, if I'm climbing the darned bridge, I want a photo.
But, the biggest reason that I did not climb is that my daughter wanted no part of the endeavor. And this trip to Oz was, mostly, HER dream trip. I'd never have thought of leaving her below for a three hour climb. (Sounds a bit like that "three hour tour" on Gilligan's Island, doesn't it?)
If you want to climb the bridge, book early. It fills up fast.
AND, if you'd like to climb it CHEAP, you might contact Aussiedoug and make him an offer on that gift certificate of his. : )
Dont miss the bridge climb when you visit Sydney. It is once in a lifetime climb. You need to make the booking first and arrive there 15 minutes prior to the schedule. I had 7.35pm climb. It took 3 hours plus for the climb but the first hour was the briefing, practising and getting to know each other. It is actually not too bad, so dont worry about the climb as i can see some elderly also enjoy it as much as they can. It is very safe and they have all the safety gear well prepare for you. I paid for AUD220 for this climb, kinda expensive and you cannot bring your own camera as well. At the end of the climb, you will get a certificate and a group photo for complimentary. Other photo cost like AUD25/pc and additional AUD10.
We climbed the bridge. (we heard there were options for which way you climbed but they didn't give us an option and the only one we saw going on was the outside climb which is really the only one anyone should do). It is very expensive, but it will be the highlight of your trip. It was incredible. We also had a great guide, David, and that always does affect the excursion but everyone there seemed very friendly so I don't think you have to be concerned about that. We also received a lot better price than what was quoted online by going directly there. Keep in mind that they charge rates based on what time of day you are going. What that means is that if they consider 6:00 sunset, then you will be paying sunset rates regardless of whether the sunset is really at that time or not. We went at 7:30 and were charged evening rates but the sun didn't set until about 8:30. Also, if you are trying to calculate the time, keep in mind that you will be in prep for about an hour before you even begin the climb so take that into consideration.
Also, as many people have said, but I will say it here as well in case this is the only review you look at, they don't allow cameras on the climb. They do give you a copy of the group shot at the top, but along the way, they also take a couple shots of you and who ever you came with separate. You can then pay extra for those photos, either printed or on CD. It was $29.00 AUD for the first picture on CD and $10.00 for each picture after that. (there were only a total of four pictures to choose from, they stopped twice to take pictures and took two pictures at each stop)
In a nutshell, yes, it sucks that it is so expensive, and it sucks that you can't take your camera, especially for a picture fanatic like me, but in the end, I wouldn't have missed it for the world and will never forget it. If this is the only time you will be visiting Australia, you have to do it.
Perhaps the number one “must do” for visitors to Sydney is to walk the bridge - and for the fitter and more affluent, the famous Bridge Climb (see http://www.bridgeclimb.com/) where you can actually get to climb to the top of the famous “coat hanger.” Although I would have liked to do the bridge climb, my wife (Lady Gaw) and high places are not a good mix and she totally refused to take part.
I’m not going to repeat the many words written on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but have placed 2 web site links on this tip for further reading. The latter link has historic photos of the bridge during construction.
We walked from Circular Quay through The Rocks and then accessed the pedestrian walkway of the bridge from the Argyle Steps (from Argyle Street) walked up a further flight of steps and then traversed the bridge to Milsons Point, where there is a shorter set of stairs back to ground level. From those steps we walked a further 1.5 kilometres to our hotel in North Sydney, although we could have accessed the train from the Milsons Point station, which is located at the northern end of the bridge, but one short hop by train is for wimps.
The view from the pedestrian walkway is breathtaking, although there is an ever-present rumble from the 8 traffic lanes and 2 train lines that cross the bridge.
The middle point on the pedestrian walkway is marked by a small wooden seat and offers the only respite on the 2 kilometre walk – and yes Lady Gaw and I did take advantage of that seat (see photo 2).
The bridge is an amazing structure and such an integral part of Sydney. I would love to have a time capsule and go back to the 1920’s and watch the construction.
Web sites for further reading:
While alot of people do a proper bridge climb, we just chose to walk over the bridge. It's nice to say you've walked along and you can get some good views of the harbour. We went quite late at night so we didn't bother to explore the other side of the bridge, we just walked along as a nice after dinner stroll.
When I first saw the Harbour Bridge I thought , "Wow". The big steel structure is strangely attractive with it round semi circle curve. The brisge was opened in 1932 and was once Sydney's tallest structures. The bridge connects Sydney with the North Shore; cars, pedestrians and trains travel across this bridge every day.
Looking up at the Bridge you can see people daring to participate in the Bridge Climb under the high arches. They are braver than me...I do not like open air heights experiences and it would scare the hell out of me. Thankfully cameras are not allowed on the Climb so no fear of getting hit by a falling camera. Prices for the brisge climb vary from $188-$295 (AUD)
If you don't take a walk in Harbour Bridge, you will miss the chance of enjoying the scene of Sydney Harbour. The fences built to avoid any suicide attempts makes you feel frustrated, but it is still very nice. If you want to do more than walking, you can climb up to the top of Harbour Bridge with Bridgeclimb tours organized daily at frequent intervals. For the fainthearted there is Pylon Lookout which offers some great scenery.