One slip could mean death*

Today I climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Built 1924-1932, the bridge cost the equivalent of $750-million dollars and is the fourth longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world.  The highest point of the arch is 134 metres (440 feet). It was the highest point in Sydney Australia until 1967.  (Google Earth coordinates: 33°51′08″S, 151°12′38″E. 

Sixteen men died from injuries incurred in bridge-related accidents. For  seven men, one slip meant death as they fell into the Harbour waters far below.

Fast forward 78 years. There have been climbing tours of the bridge since 1 October 1998,  Thanks to a gift certificate from my siblings, I did the Discovery Climb, a 3- 3 ½ hour walk to the top of the bridge along the inner arch of the Bridge covering 1.8 km (about a mile) and 1800 steps (great fitness workout!). No one has slipped and fallen on these Bridge Climbs because of the superb safety procedures put in place by the Climb organisers.

Check in starts with a breath test (walkers must be under 0.05). Two of the people who were booked into our time had had a drink at lunch and they were pulled aside for a little "discussion". After the breath test, we then filled out the Legalities including Waiver and health declaration. Then came the suiting up! We wore:

  1. Bridge Suit  over the top of our clothing (seen here on me).
  2. Headset to hear the commentary of the Climb Leader who was fantastic
  3. Beanie hat to keep warm (on my head)
  4. Headlamp = A lamp in case it got dark on the way down (there were clouds coming) (around my neck)
  5. Fleecy jacket (didn't wear it as it was around 14 degrees and not very windy (attached to my back !)
  6. Handkerchief  (left sleeve)
  7. Latch attached to a static line on the Bridge, for the whole of the Climb -without which I could have slipped and fallen!
Safety means no loose objects can be taken onto the Bridge including cameras. Everything we were given was hooked onto us and could not be taken off. Even a small object travelling 75 metres to the road surface could cause a lot of damage to a car! To that end, we all passed through a metal detector and some people were "wanded".  Before we stepped out, we were given a short break for people to use the "facilities" (there's not many places one can relieve oneself on the bridge)!

The suiting up and instruction briefing  were very well handled and took around 45 minutes.

We started the walk by moving up and onto a series of catwalks climbing up to the Eastern catwalk which hangs below the bridge deck. The catwalk is a mere 50 metres (153 feet) above the water. Stairs lead from there to heart of the bridge and then a giant staircase took us up and out onto the very top of the bridge, the full 134 metres above the water. NB If you are not good with heights, I strongly suggest this is not the activity for you.
The views today  were  amazing. We could see 200km (120 miles to the Southern Highlands) and 100km (60 miles)  to the West into the centre of the Blue Mountains, Sydney Harbour was spread out before us with views up the Parramatta River, across the city, and, the Opera House, botanic gardens and Government House (pictured right).
 Ships, yachts, ferries and water taxis zipped around on the water beneath our feet. Planes, and helicopters buzzed over us. They felt so close to us we thought they might collide with us!.

The group before us celebrated when two of the party announced their engagement on top of the Bridge! Wedding packages are also available but no one in our small group of five had opted to become engaged or married today!
We were treated to a stunning sunset as we came down on the Western side of the bridge.
Apparently Lonely Planet has rated the Bridge Climb, one of the top ten adrenaline experiences in the world and I can see why. It was exhilarating climbing up and we were truly on a "high" at the top. Coming down was a real let down and I actually felt very deflated ground level.
Our guide was confident, efficient and fun. We felt completely safe as we clambered up and down stairs, and I was impressed with his competence.
Now the negative. The climb costs $198-  and at Twilight the climb will set you back $258 (and from August 1st, the Twilight Discovery Walk will be $268 )!! I thank my siblings very much for their gift for without it I would not have been prepared to pay this price.
It is too high a price for the experience,

After the climb you can buy photos taken of you by the guide (one is free, the others costs around $11 -$12 depending on how many you buy). Remember, no personal cameras can be taken up with you - for safety reasons. Of course,  I then bought a T shirt (Australian made) for $29.95.

Add T-shirt, photos, and walk together and you are looking at almost $300 for the experience. Take a family of four, buy four t shirts and some pictures and you are looking at an outlay of around $850! Reduce the price of the climb by 10% and reduce the photo prices by 50% methinks.
Thank you again to my sister, sister in law, brother, two nieces and a nephew for this amazing experience!
2 Responses
  1. jayne Says:

    I have so wanted to read about this experience from someone who is NOT writing for a travel magazine. Thank you for all the insights! It's something I'll definitely do someday (though I don't need the t-shirt).

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I'm going to Sydney next week, but I think I'll forgo the bridge climb.

Post a Comment