As our train pulled in to Circular Quay, right in the heart of Sydney, we got our first glimpse of the incredible bridge we were about to climb! We couldn’t believe our luck with the weather, it was a beautifully sunny Spring day with clear blue skies. We couldn’t wait to climb the bridge and see the city from a new perspective!
We practically jumped off the train and headed towards the bridge. From a distance, we were blown away by the sheer enormity of it and the realisation that we were soon going to be standing on top of the famous arch! As we got closer, we looked up and could see 10 blue blobs near the top….some fellow climbers. They were so high up, we couldn’t see any differentiating features between them – just 10 blue bodies, soon to be us yikes!
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
With excitement and a little trepidation, we entered the bridge climb office and ‘checked in’ for our climb. Soon after we waved goodbye to our family and were ushered into ‘Room 1’ for our safety briefing and instructions. After we passed the alcohol breath test, we were allowed to proceed to the kit room. Following a quick Superman style change, we were all suited and booted in matching blue and grey suits with matching black trainers – we actually felt like superheroes now. That just left the long and complicated process of adding our belts, radio, headphones, emergency fleeces and clips, sunglasses, sunscreen, harnesses, rope clips (including a practice simulation) and emergency handkerchiefs – phew we were ready to go! Now we know why it took the company 10 years to get agreement from the government for bridge climbing!
After all our preparation and build up, we were ready and excited to get going. As we exited the building and took our first steps, we were struck by the vast steel framework of the bridge and encountered the steepest part of our climb up the bridge’s left pillar and to the beginning of the enormous archway. As we climbed, our guide educated us about the fascinating history of the bridge and the groundbreaking engineering work involved between 1923 and 1932. The bridge was actually in planning for almost a century before the papers were finally signed, and took 1,400 workers 8 years to complete. But by far the most complex and nail biting part of the process was the joining of the middle of the arch, completed over a number of nightshifts for most workers (as the steel was at its coolest temperature and therefore most stable in the evening) and resulted in 16 deaths. Witnessing the sheer scale and intricacy of this engineering work up close was amazing as we slowly made our way up the arch and across 52,800 tonnes of steel and rivets (6,000,000 in total apparently!).
After the fairly steep beginning, the climb was relatively easy and slow-paced, giving us plenty of time to pause and savour the stunning views below of the iconic Opera house, Sydney harbour, the city and beyond. It was also pretty cool to see a couple of big cruise liners sail across under our feet and the little yellow water taxis looked tiny from where we were. The views only got better as we climbed further and finally reached the summit. The view from the top was breathtaking and well worth the hour or so climb!
After posing for our iconic snap, we began our descent and appreciated the afternoon south easterly wind breezing in to cool us down from the climb, thankfully not cold enough to need our emergency fleeces and handkerchiefs though! On our way down we learned more about the bridge and most interestingly that despite the curved appearance of the steel from a distance, every single piece of steel used was straight. Hence the absolute accuracy required to ensure the East and West archways eventually came together to create the perfect curved archway! Amazing!
As you can probably tell we were fascinated by the history and engineering of the bridge, so after our climb we took full advantage of the free museum and documentaries available next to the bridge climb starting point. For anyone interested, we’d highly recommend a trip here even if you don’t fancy the climb!
To climb the Sydney harbour bridge was something we never thought we’d do, and we were so glad to have had the opportunity to climb one of the most iconic structures of the world!