Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

On an otherwise normal day at the office, Bronwyn filled in a company profile questionnaire for the in-house magazine. Among the usual questions was “What would be your perfect first date?”. Her answer was, to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

This triggered off some intra-office discussion on how she could find anybody crazy enough to do this with her, and of course as soon as I heard about it, I booked it.
It was a three hour drive to Sydney after work on a Friday, so we found ourselves a nice hotel and had a gentle night on The Rocks, a particularly happening area on the Sydney Harbour waterfront. Then, after a decent late morning breakfast, we headed for the Bridge itself.

The worlds largest and widest steel arch bridge, it still dominates the Sydney skyline seventy years after it was built. Its 49-metre deck is wide enough for eight vehicle lanes, two train lines, a cycle path and a pedestrian walkway, and the top span, at 134 metres above sea level, was our destination that sunny morning.

Our hosts, the Bridge Climb Company, turned out to be a very slick operation indeed. In their warehouse-sized office inside one of the minor approach support towers, we climbed into our bridge-grey jumpsuits and fitted our safety harnesses, which were cleverly designed to run along a continuous safety rail on the bridge.

Add some sun protection, radio headsets (bone-conduction: a weird feeling), some safety instruction, a final set of metal detectors to ensure we weren’t about to drop coins or cameras on the traffic below, and we were out onto the approach span.

Out onto the body of the bridge itself, we were walking up and along the outer spans above the water. The views were tremendous, from the Blue Mountains on one side to the ocean on the other, and down onto the rooves of downtown Sydney and of the Opera House itself.

The whole tour, led by a knowledgeable guide and punctuated by the occasional historical titbit, bad joke, and photo shoot took over three hours, walking all the way up the seaward span to the very top of the bridge, across beneath the flags and aircraft warning lights, and then down the other side back to base.

Surprisingly tired, we divested ourselves of our gear, bought the photographs that you see here, and stumbled out into the late afternoon in search of coffee, before driving to the coast to go scuba diving.

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