The Sydney Harbour Bridge, also affectionately known as the ‘Coathanger’, was opened on March 19th 1932 by Premier Jack Lang, after six years of construction. Made of steel the bridge contains 6 million hand driven rivets. The surface area that requires painting is equal to about the surface area of 60 sports fields. The Bridge has huge hinges to absorb the expansion caused by the hot Sydney sun. You will see them on either side of the bridge at the footings of the Pylons.
You can have a close hand look while you are in Sydney by visiting the South Eastern Pylon. It is a walking trip and recommended for the fit only. It is a longish walk to get to the base of the Pylon and then there are 200 steps to the top. Entry for adults is now $8.50 (23 June 2003), kids between 8 and 12 years three dollars and under 8 years its free. (Prices valid until 30 November 2003).
The views and photo opportunities are fantastic. (If you can make it, we’ve got to say it is tough). There is a great display on how the thing was built. It has a similar place in Sydney history to the Statue of Liberty in New York as far as many migrants to Australia go. In sight of the bridge you knew you had made it.
The displaced peoples of Europe who came to Australia in the days of the grand ships can get very misty when you ask them what they felt when they saw this grand old arch on their arrival in Sydney from the aftermath of World War Two as they sailed up Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). The old Bridge has been replaced as “the” landmark of Sydney by the bold architecture of the Opera House.
But a grand old bridge it is, and one you will remember whenever you think of Sydney after your visit.
When it opened it cost a car six pence to cross. A horse and rider was 3 pence. These days a return trip (for some reason the only kind) costs two dollars twenty (gst). Horses and riders are banned, that’s the changing times. You can walk across free and you are allowed to bicycle in a special lane.
Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest (but not longest as thats the New River Gorge in the USA) steel arch bridge, and, in its beautiful harbour location, has become a renowned international symbol of Australia.
Its total length including approach spans is 1149 metres and its arch span is 503 metres. The top of the arch is 134 metres above sea level and the clearance for shipping under the deck is a spacious 49 metres. The total steelwork weighs 52,800 tonnes, including 39,000 tonnes in the arch. The 49 metre wide deck makes Sydney Harbour Bridge the widest Longspan Bridge in the world.
It’s taken me a long time to get this entry completed because I just spent about five days in San Francisco. I’ll have those blog entries up sooner than later, I promise.
This was my last day in Australia so I wanted to make it count. I heard rumor (and also saw some videos from baseball players) that people could climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I’m deathly afraid of heights and I have a fear of falling off high places as well. So when I first heard these rumors the whole thing was out of the question for me. I wasn’t about to climb four hundred and thirty something feet on a bridge in Australia.
When I left my hotel for the day I stopped at the Westfield Tower and rode the elevator all the way up to the top. It was a spectacular sight…
…and you can read all about the details of this day on this entry. When I got done looking at Sydney Australia from that vantage point, I headed out to do some more sight-seeing and eventually found myself at the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
For those of you who ever visit Sydney Australia, this is something you’ll certainly at least want to look into. It’s pretty expensive to climb the bridge but on a good day it’s worth every single penny spent. From start to finish the climb took about three hours. Here’s the entrance:
Not only do you get complete 100% safety training and a chance to climb some ladders before going up, but you also get a great tour guide and a thorough history lesson on the bridge and the surrounding area of Sydney. I thought it was going to be a quick 45 minute climb-up-the-bridge-and climb-back-down sort of thing. Nope. The tour guide was awesome and he told us how the bridge was made, why it was made and the details of the different jobs that helped create the bridge.
He told us this one story of how the rivets were made. One guy grabs the rivet with tongs and places it in a cooker on the bridge while another guy waits. This guy is called the “catcher”. Once the rivet is red hot, the guy with the tongs pulls the rivet out of the cooker and tosses it to the catcher. The catcher then catches the red hot rivet in a bucket of sand and then grabs it with his set up tongs. He then climbs into the bridge through an access panel and hammers the rivet into place. The tour guide told us that there were hundreds of thousands of rivets at the bottom of the river due to the catcher missing red hot rivets. Wow.
At one time actor and comedian Paul Hogan was a rigger on the bridge before finding fame and fortune.
In June 1976, the one-billionth vehicle crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The first 500 million crossings took over 33 years while the second 500 million took less than 11 years.
In 1932, the annual average daily traffic volume (in both directions) was about 10,900.
In 1943, with a wartime shortage of vehicles and petrol rationing, there was a drop in traffic to about 8,600 vehicles a day.
A total of 13 deaths happened from men falling off the bridge while being created and only one man survived a fall. Turns out the guy who fell off the bridge was an expert high diver and when he realized he was falling, his instincts kicked it and he was able to dive feet first into the river below and only break a couple of ribs. There were tons of stories like this that the tour guide had.
We weren’t allowed to take anything up during the climb like cameras or chewing gum or any other loose items. They were very strict about this and we received a quick pat down, we passed through a metal detector and they waved a metal detector wand over us prior to heading out. It was about the equivalent of passing through a TSA checkpoint.
So here are a few pictures that were taken of me by the tour guide once up on the bridge…
…that’s the entire group after we reached the top. See the old guy in the first row, second person in? That man immigrated to Australia the year before the bridge was built into completion and he’s 80 years old. The day of the climb was his birthday and his daughter climbed with him for his birthday present. How awesome is that? I’m in the second row, first person on the left.
This next picture if of me as we were heading back down:
So you’re probably wondering why we have headphones and why we are wearing those silly blue jump suits. The headphones were for so the tour guide could talk to us and tell us stuff while we climbed around on the bridge. And the blue jump suits is what we changed into prior to climbing the bridge. We all had to take off as much clothing as we were comfortable with and then change into them. They had no pockets and then we wore a belt with a four foot strap that was secured to the bridge as we climbed so in case we fell, we would not fall completely off the bridge. It was 100% safe to climb. So needless to say my fear of falling was put to rest while climbing around on the bridge.
This is probably my most favorite picture. It has a great shot of the Sydney Opera House in the background. Yes, it was windy and it started to rain on us just as we were reaching the top so we had to put on our authentic Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb rain gear. Despite a clear sunny day, it was still pretty awesome to be up there. The worst part about the climb as climbing three 25-step ladders to reach the platform to actually climb up the bridge. They were vertical, it was wet and like I said; I hate heights. But once I made it onto the platform to start walking up the bridge, it wasn’t so bad.
Another great picture with the Opera House in the background.
And after we got back down to ground zero, we changed out of our jump suits, drank some water, sat down for a little bit, returned all of our gear that they loaned out to us, we got one of these:
Boom, baby! My Climber Certificate!
I realize my blog entries went from “day one” to “day two” and then jumped to “day eight”. Simple explanation. Day three and four were spent at the Sydney Cricket Grounds watching baseball (and you can read all about that by clicking this link) and five, six and day seven were spent just kind of kicking around town and not doing much. So it really wasn’t blog worthy. I have a ton of pictures though and I might do an extra blog entry kind of like how I did when I visited Japan a couple of years ago.
Hopefully I can get my San Francisco trip blogged about within the next couple of weeks before I start going to a lot of Mariners games.
My last day in Australia. I’d fly out tomorrow evening and I had to check out of my hotel quite early (10am). So that pretty much left today to make the best out of my trip.
The games at the Sydney Cricket Grounds were amazing. If you didn’t get to read about any of that, don’t worry; just click here. I wrote up one entry into a two day spread about the games. It was pretty intense and the Australian fan base was really supportive and awesome.
I started my day out just walking aimlessly towards down town Sydney. I figured I’d run into something and make the most of the day. When I got to Hyde Park, I saw this:
That is the Sydney Tower. And yes, you can go all the way to the top for a low, low price of $69 dollars (if you get the family value plan). There are two types of tours you can take up the Sydney Tower. One is called the Sky walk. It’s a motorized platform that you get on and it takes you all the way around on the outside of the tower. Or you can just take a ride up to the observation deck for $26 big ones and mill around in the souvenir shop and look around outside. I was able to spot the Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbor and my hotel from the observation deck. I took many photos from inside the tower and this one is my favorite:
Once I got back down to ground level, I sought out something to eat…
…that would be Emu jerky, Crocodile jerky and Kangaroo jerky. Each bag was reasonably priced but the Kangaroo was cheapest so I bought one of those. The consistency of the jerky was much like beef jerky except it was a little more on the chewy side and a little more moist. Plus it had little grey fat pockets in the meat. It wasn’t bad but I think the idea of eating Kangaroo was a little on the weird side. I’ve had crocodile meat before and I did not like it.
I headed down to the Darling Harbor where I ran into the Hard Rock Café, some other shops and a whole mess of restaurants. It was very exquisite and all outdoor seating. It made me nervous to eat outside because the seagulls were thick. They all seemed to behave themselves and never really got close to anyone eating, but the off chance that one decided to get brave or poop in my lunch was a little bit more than I could bare.
Like I mentioned in Day #2, I continued to find these painted Black Rhinos placed all around Sydney. There were 125 of them and I set out to find all 125. Unfortunately, two of my days on this trip were wrecked due to heavy down pour and bad weather. I did find a few more around the harbor, though:
I think this one is number eight and here’s number nine…
…and here is number ten:
That’s about all I could find. So yeah, I’m 115 off from my original goal. If you’re interested in knowing why these Rhinos were placed all over Sydney, here’s the link to the website.
Next, I headed towards the Sydney Harbor bridge. Take a look how mammoth this bridge is…
…and yes, it is climbable. And yes, I climbed it. And yes, it was awesome. And yes, I’d do it again. The Sydney Harbor bridge spans 435 feet skyward and has nearly 190,000 cars pass over it daily. 16 confirmed deaths took place while constructing the bridge and only one person has ever survived the bridge after falling off of it.
The tour took roughly three and a half hours to complete and it was the most amazing view of Sydney you’ll ever lay your eyes on. It overlooked the Sydney Opera House, John Travolta’s house, the Darling Harbor and Nicole Kidman’s top floor apartment. I have many pictures that were taken professionally from the tour guide that cost about $50 bucks to get (plus the $235 to climb the bridge) but it was worth every damn penny and I’d do it again in a heart beat. I’m deathly afraid of heights but this bridge is so well constructed and you’re well strapped in (tethered to the railing by a safety strap) that even if you did fall, you’d only drop five feet at best.
I don’t want to spoil my next blog entry, though. I’m going to do a full-write up of my bridge climb experience in one long entry (or as long as I can make it) with pictures and everything within the next couple of days! So if you’re a faithful reader, sorry I couldn’t get all the pictures of me on the bridge in this entry. They’ve been printed out so I have to scan them in to upload them into a blog entry. Trust me, though, it is well worth the wait! This experience was awesome and if you’re ever going to make a trip abroad, I suggest you travel to Sydney and do this bridge climb!
To be continued…
I woke up this morning at 5am. Super early, I know. I wanted to get a head start on the day because I needed to find my way into down town Sydney to pick up my game tickets for this weekends games at Sydney Cricket Grounds. My friend, as some of you may know him as “PadreLeigh” had them in his possession from a friend who was selling them to me who could no longer make it to the games.
Last night I took a cab from the airport to my hotel. It was approximately 5 miles which included one toll road. I asked a few locals about how much it would cost in AUS currency to make it to my hotel and they all said “around 30-40 dollars”. No problem, I thought to myself. I can handle that. After a 35 minute cab ride and $67 AUS dollars later, I knew I had been taken for a ride. This morning, I took a cab into downtown Sydney to kick around and I told my story to the cab driver and he told me I had been ripped off. The tolled road should’ve been about $4 dollars and the actual cab ride should’ve cost me about $45. So fair warning to anyone who has a trip to Australia coming up. Pick your cabbies wisely. This cab driver was not an Australian.
Today wasn’t as eventful as I had hoped it to be. I wore my flip flops around town and walked roughly 4 miles in them. I ended up with a nasty blister on my right foot which pretty much made walking really not-so-fun. I eventually made it back to my hotel, put my walking shoes on and headed back out but with this blister, I really had to limit my walking and I was done with cab rides. I had brunch at a place called Salad Works. All healthy food and really good. I eventually found “PadreLeigh”, scooped up the tickets and walked back into the city.
First stop? St. Marys Cathedral:
I didn’t go in (couldn’t take pictures inside, anyway) but the Cathedral was absolutely gorgeous.
Here’s a closer look:
After taking in the pure beauty of that iconic structure, I hustled off to the Australian Museum:
I learned all about rocks and the Australia gold rush and I also learned about wombats! Did you know the first wombat to ever walk the country of Australia was called a Diprotodon? Here I am with one:
The Diprotodon was around millions of years ago. Pretty interesting, yeah? I also saw a baby crocodile:
On my way back to my hotel for some dinner, I ran into this statue of some naked dude grabbing the one-horned dilapidated Mongaloid. It was pretty badass:
I tried this Mexican cantina restaurant called Guzman Y Gomez and it was pretty good! It reminded me of a Qdoba or a Chipolte from the Americas. Most places, I’m finding are pretty healthy to eat at. Plus, I’ve been drinking a ton of water because the humidity is a little high out this way.
Bathroom selfie time:
Welp! That concludes day one in Australia! Tomorrow I’m going to make it out to the Tangora Zoo in North Sydney and then I have tickets to the Team AUS versus the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game at the Cricket Grounds.
Friday, I’d like to make it out to Bondi beach but all of this is subject to change. Hope all is well back in the States!