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Sydney Harbour Bridge

Listed under Monuments & Landmarks in Sydney, Australia.

  • Photo of Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Photo of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Photo of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Photo by flickr user S Baker
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For such a big reputation, The Sydney Harbour Bridge is actually relatively short, spanning a lip in the harbour about 500 metres across from the area known as the Rocks to Milson's Point, North Sydney. What it lacks in length it makes up for in height and girth: it’s the world’s widest long-span bridge, with eight lanes of traffic, two rail lines and a pedestrian walkway, and the tallest steel arch bridge, at 134 metres from the flag at the top to water level.

Along with the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge has become an iconic Sydney backdrop and a memorable blip in the skyline. It does look quite graceful, but there is some serious technology at work here as well; because of the heat the steel of the bridge can change size by a whopping 18 centimetres between the hottest and coolest days and several hinges accommodate these expansions and contractions. Four pale pylons of granite and concrete mark the ends of the arch, they’re not strictly necessary but were added, ironically, to give the impression the bridge is structurally sound. One pylon now has a museum and lookout, while two act as chimneys for the tunnel which now runs under the bridge below the harbour.

Construction began in July 1925, the two sides were joined in August 1930 and the ceremony to officially open the bridge was held on the 13th of March 1932. One of the best bridge stories comes from this auspicious occasion; as the NSW Premier was about to cut the ribbon to declare the bridge open a military man on horseback lunged forward and sliced it with his sword declaring the bridge open ‘in the name of His Majesty the King and all decent citizens of NSW’ – the interloper was promptly arrested and fined 5 pounds.

You can walk, drive or catch a train across, walking is the only freebie. Since 1998 you’ve also been able to climb the arch.

The bridge is at its best for New Years when it gets dolled up in fireworks as part of the huge Sydney Harbour celebrations.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Not as thrilling as I hoped it was going to be...

Bridge Climb

No better way to start the day and blow out the cobwebs than a climb up Sydney Harbour Bridge. The preparation process I must admit is so well organised, even a mock bridge walk before you head up and of course all kitted out in the most unattractive boiler suits possible! We head north on the bridge on the “discovery” climb, which takes you into the heart for an experience of the workings of the bridge, the walk for this takes place in the lower arch of the bridge where you climb to the summit at the centre point. I was pleasantly surprised at how manageable the climb was and I had expected it to be more laborious than it actually was. The view from the top, 134 meters above the harbour, was one in a million, Sydney has so much to offer to the eye. The experience was fantastic, and our climb leaders were so informative.

Climbing the sydney harbour bridge

Great experience

Harbour Bridge Climb

Despite the being strapped onto the bridge with techy looking harnesses and hiking to a height 134 metres from the harbour below, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge isn’t quite as thrilling as the brochures would have you believe. It’s a great view, but even if it’s really windy it still feels unfortunately tame.

Wearing an attractive grey all in one suit you’re hooked onto the rails and lead up the bridge by a guide, who’ll give you details about the bridge’s history as you go, tours go up one side of the southern approach and down the other side of the southern approach, crossing over the road at the very peak under the flag. The whole thing takes about three hours and groups go up all day and into the evenings in summer.

You can’t bring anything with you on your climb, no cameras etc. and you have to go through a metal detector and take a breathalyzer test before you climb. It would be an unmissable experience if it wasn’t so expensive, as it is you get a better view and a bigger buzz from a helicopter trip over without paying much more.

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