Last night I did the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Such a touristy thing to do for someone who has lived in Sydney their whole life, but still, it’s something we all gotta do at some point. I’m glad I did, because it’s an amazing experience and I totally recommend it to anyone remotely interested.
We went on a night climb, which was a bit of a different experience, not that I can really compare it to doing it in the daytime since it was my first climb. I can only imagine that it’s easier to see both the bridge and the sights during the day…but frankly it just wouldn’t be as cool as doing it at night. When we first walked out to the pylon we could see the sun setting out in the west. Then by the time we got to the top of the arch it was night time, so we were up there looking out over the city at night, with all of the pretty lights, all of the headlights rushing past below, all of the big dark spots that hide trees and parks…it was an amazing view.
The experience itself was pretty cool bananas. Having been on the ground and watched the tiny, ant-sized groups of people inching along the bridge for years now, it conjures up this image of a massively taxing trek up hundreds and thousands of stairs. I thought it would be hard. But it wasn’t difficult in the least. One has to climb up a fairly steep ladder to get to the arch from below the road deck (and then back down it again later) but it takes a matter of minutes, and it is the task involving anything more demanding than walking slowly up a very gentle incline. Looking at it from below you’d never guess how gradually the arch actually rises when you’re on it. Plus the whole journey is about 2.5 hours long and involves many, many breaks for photos and information. So I guess my point is, if there’s anyone out there thinking about doing it but you’re worried about climbing all those stairs, don’t be! It’s easy as.
There are some other practical considerations, however. The most important being before you go out there, pee early, pee often. Life advice from me to you. Also, if you go at night, take the hanky that they offer you. That sounds weird, but trust me. It’s night time, it’s incredibly windy, your eyes WILL water to buggery, even if they aren’t professionally leaky like mine are. By the time we reached the top everyone around me was wishing they had brought a hanky too. So take it from me, hanky yourself up.
Being the history nerd that I am, one of my favourite parts of the whole thing was hearing the history and information relayed by our leader, the charming Mitch who was attractive, funny and helpful all at once, and also came fully equipped with cool stories, a Kiwi accent and a freakish ability to remember all our names. I won’t go into the details – you’ll have to make the climb yourself for that – but I found all the stories and information about the making of the bridge to be fascinating.
Also fascinating to me was the sheer height. In some ways, I think because it was dark and most of the climb wasn’t that steep, it was difficult to really appreciate just how high up in the air we were. It didn’t feel like we’d walked long enough to be that high (which again is a testament to how relatively easy the process is). But then at other times, I was very aware of it. There are parts where you cross between the arches, walking along a very see-through steel grate, so you can look down at your feet and see all of the cars rushing past directly under you, and really see just how very far below you they are. If you’re not fine with heights I don’t imagine these would be particularly comfortable moments, and it’s probably worse during the day when you can see everything a lot better. There was another point, I think during a photo op, where I was pressed against the hand rail that didn’t even come up to my butt, and I looked behind and noticed that there was only about three feet of bridge between this very low railing and the abyss beyond. Not that I was in any danger of going over (another positive part of the experience, you feel 100% safe the whole time) but still…it felt cool to contemplate how close I was to the edge of a BIIIIIG drop.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience, and totally worthwhile spending the money. I’m lucky that I live in Sydney with such an experience right here at my fingertips, and now I can say that I’ve done it. So yeah like I said in the beginning, totes recommend the climb to anyone thinking of doing it.