Welcome to Sydney, Australia! We flew from Melbourne to Sydney on one of many flights that left Melbourne early this morning, arriving here at 9:00. We quickly retrieved our luggage, grabbed a taxi and were at our B&B in the Pott’s Point neighborhood before 10. When we booked this place (Simpsons at Pott’s Point), we were told that we could drop off our luggage but check in time was not until 3 were so we were pleasantly surprised when we were told that our room was ready and we could get settled in before heading out to explore Sydney.
Our big destination today was to to do the bridge climb to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge! I read about this adventure in a travel magazine many years ago and I though if I ever got to Sydney, I was doing it! And here I am, in Sydney, with a reservation to climb! This bridge was open in 1932 and the top of the bridge’s arch is 134 meters (440 feet) above the water. The bridge was the most recognizable feature of Sydney until the very unique Opera House was built.
Our 3.5 hour tour started at 1:15 PM, with us signing papers basically saying we understood what we were getting ourselves into! We were then given one-piece jumpsuits to wear, along with baseball hats and glasses straps, both of which were teathered to the backs of our suits. We then strapped on harness belts which had something similar to a carabiner which would attach on to a cable that followed us up and down the bridge. We had to practice (or demonstrate competency) in climbing up and down steep metal steps while connected to a cable. Lastly we were given a radio which let us hear what our guide was saying. By now an hour has passed, just getting ready to climb! Our group consisted of 14 climbers and one guide. 10 of the climbers were young people on an AU tour and then there was a guy and his father, and then Jim and me. The guide wanted the tour kids together so he told the father and son and Jim and I to come to the front. Jim and those 2 guys suddenly became real gentlemen and insisted I go first, right behind the guide!
We first had to walk quite a ways under the roadway of the bridge, about 180 feet above the ground and water, on a narrow catwalk. It was very scary!!! Even though I was connected to a safety cable, the height was messing with my brain! I kept my eyes on where I was putting my feet and on the guide right in front of me. After a bit I realized I wasn’t scared anymore and I relaxed. Then we had to climb up 5 very steep sets of narrow, open mesh metal stairs! I was fine as long as I kept looking up! By now we were way above the bridge’s road surface and it was a bit alarming to see the cars, trucks and busses whizzing by under me! Soon we emerged onto the walkway on top of the arch! Spectacular! There were nice handrails on both sides to hold onto and the the steps were mounted on the huge beams of the arch so I couldn’t see down directly below my feet. And I didn’t want to look at my feet, because there was Sydney, spread out all around me! The Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, the high rise buildings and the many ferries in the harbor were all on display, on this clear, sunny day! There are not enough superlatives to describe the views in all directions. Our group stopped 3 times on the way up the arch so our guide could take photos of us. Climbers are not allowed to take anything with them on the climb, including cameras and phones. I forgot to mention that we had to take a breathalyzer test before we suited up,and if we failed, there would be no climbing for us! Good thing we drank apple juice at lunch!
We had a most enjoyable group of people to climb with and our guide was fantastic. He has been doing this since the Bridge Climb started in 1998. He had stories to tell about the movie stars he’s brought up on the bridge as well as gold medal winners from when the Olympics were here in Sydney in 2000.
Click here to see a very short video that our guide made of Jim and me on the top of the bridge! I’ve never tried to imbed a video link in a blog so if it doesn’t work, I will try to put the link at the end of the blog and you can paste it in your browser.
We were exhilarated when the climb was over. It was everything I had hoped and more!
Sydney is a beautiful city, surrounded by all this water. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect for sightseeing!
We were hungry and thirsty after our hike and we walked past this German restaurant that advertised homemade pretzels (yes, pretzels!!!) so we decided a celebratory beer and pretzels were in order. We ended up sharing a table with 2 British guys who are in town for the big British/Australian rugby match on Saturday night. We had lots of laughs with them as we compared sporting events in our countries.
I will attach a few photos, but because I am doing this on my iPad, there will be no captions. I think all my loyal readers can figure out what they are looking at!
Here is the video link: http://youtu.be/L9sf0QX3AkI