by Michele, tour manager
On our fascinating Australia tour, one of the options for our free day in Sydney is to take part in the famous BridgeClimb. In this blog post, our tour manager Michele tells us all about her exhilarating experience climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
First things first
I was lucky enough to do the climb one beautiful Sunday morning. Upon arrival at the office on Cumberland Street, The Rocks, I checked in with reception and proceeded upstairs to meet my group. There is a maximum number of 14 people per group allowed, except as part of the ‘BridgeClimb Sampler’ where there is a maximum of 12 people. We were welcomed by another member of staff and given the appropriate clothing to wear.
Getting prepped and ready
We were given a boiler type suit. If the weather is hot you don’t need to wear much underneath, but when it’s cold it’s best to wear trousers plus a few layers on top. When the weather is wet & windy you will be provided with a lightweight rain jacket. It is essential to wear trainers or walking shoes/boots. There are changing rooms available plus lockers for your valuables. You aren’t allowed to take anything with you including your camera or even your own water bottle. Don’t worry though – there are two drinking water fountains on the walk. Only glasses/sunglasses are allowed which will be attached to your suit. You are offered a baseball cap & hankie if required.
Our guide handed out the belts to wear, fastened with a carabiner, and we were attached to the metal cord running along the bridge during the full duration of the walk. As the steepest part of the climb involves walking up some very steep steps onto the arch, there is an area set up inside the building to have a practice beforehand. If you feel you may not be able to do it, you have the option of cancelling your climb. We were also given headsets with microphones so we could hear and talk to the guide along the way.
Off we go!
Once everyone was ready we clipped ourselves onto the cord and began walking along the corridor leading outside onto the bridge. Off we went! As we walked outside we found ourselves underneath the main arch of the bridge, with the traffic down below us. In all honestly my stomach did turn a little! But the excitement soon took over and we carried on walking through the impressive Pylon before beginning to climb the arch to the top. The first part of the climb is most definitely the steepest and the steps are open so you can see straight down beneath you! Although you’re strapped on tightly and the steps are steady, there is a good sized handrail all the way along to keep you calm. After the main arch the climb becomes less steep and the steps are more enclosed.
On top of the world
As we climbed to the top of the arch the views got better and better. We made it! Once on the top of the bridge, 134m above the harbour, the views are absolutely breathtaking. It was such a wonderful feeling to be on the top of such an iconic building with the most incredible surroundings. We had time to soak up the stunning, 360-degree panorama before walking across the top of the arch. Our guide pointed out places of interest all around us and took several photos of each of us. We had the opportunity to do an 8 second video clip which we were able to purchase afterwards.
What goes up must come down…
As we descended on the other side we found ourselves above the railway line and slowly made our way back to where we began. All too soon it was over but what a memorable climb it was! It certainly helped to have such lovely weather, however I’m sure the experience would be just as rewarding and exciting without it!
- To participate you need to have a general level of health & fitness & the ability to climb independently.
- There are 1332 steps in total which vary in steepness.
- The price depends on which time of day you want to do the climb.
- The most popular time to climb is twilight.
- There are three climbing options available but the classic 3 ½ hour climb is recommended.
- There is a ‘BridgeClimb Express’ which lasts 2 ¼ hours and the ‘BridgeClimb Sampler’ which goes just halfway to the top.
- The cost includes a group photo, a certificate of achievement, a BridgeClimb baseball cap plus a free pass to The Pylon Lookout.
- It is essential to pre-book, preferably on line: bridgeclimb.com
- For safety reasons you will be breathalysed and it is advisable not to drink any alcohol before the climb.
Fun Facts about the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Today over 150,000 vehicles cross it every single day.
- 30,000 litres of paint are required for each coat!
- It was known as the ‘Iron Lung’ at the time of its construction. Nowadays it is also known as the ‘Coat Hanger’.
- The Labour Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, was due to cut the ribbon at The Opening Ceremony, but a royalist named Francis de Groot rode forward on his horse & cut the ribbon instead! It was promptly re-tied & Jack Lang performed the ‘official opening’.
- During the Great Depression it provided on-site work for around 1,400 people. It was completed in 1932 after 8 years of construction and was of course considered to be a huge feat of engineering.
- Loans for the total cost of 6.25 million old Australian pounds were eventually paid off in 1988 – 56 years after its completion.
- It is the 6th longest spanning arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge – measuring 134m from the top of the bridge to the water level.
- The arch was built in two halves and spans 503m in total.