Yesterday I took part in one of the scariest but worthwhile experiences of my life – climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’m OK with heights, but there some metal catwalks which made me a bit nervous as it’s mainly the idea of falling from heights or being able to see through the floor that I don’t like! When I booked my holiday this activity seemed to just jump out at me. It was expensive (£74 per person) but it’s a once in a lifetime thing and unless I come back to Sydney I’ll never be able to do it again.
The day started by walking just down the road from my hotel to the Bridge Climb centre. After checking in there was a little bit of a wait where I had a chance to look at some of the photos of famous people that have made the climb – Pierce Brosnan, Status Quo, Mike from Green Day and the Olsen sisters were among the ones I saw there. Once everything was ready for us we moved into another room for some paperwork and safety checks. One of the safety checks was an alcohol test and we had to blow into one of those machines to test that we weren’t under the influence, for safety reasons.
Next we got kitted up in an all-in-one bridge suit. All jackets, wallets, phones, cameras, bags etc had to be left behind in a locker for safety reasons but we took the key with us to ensure nobody could access our property. Then we passed through a metal detector to make sure we didn’t have anything still on us by mistake. That was the last of the security checks before progressing to a simulated section of bridge. We had to attach ourselves to it using the safety harness then climb up, walk along the catwalk and then climb back down again. While we waited for people to do that there was a chance to chat to everybody else. Most of the people there were Australian which was good as I like being around locals when I’m on holiday. There was a girl there who was doing this to prove she was OK with heights. She was a bit nervous so I told her that if the Olsen sisters can do it then she can too. The final stop before heading to the bridge was to fit us with communication equipment – a radio that was developed by the Australian Special Forces that projects sound waves into your inner ear without using headphones – which allowed us to experience the sights and sounds of everything around us without having a headset get in the way.
There were some metal catwalks which made me really nervous as you could see 100m straight down to the road below but other than that the climb was pretty nice. Once on the bridge it was nice and secure and the views made up for any nervousness I had before. I was treated with great views of the Opera House and Harbour and could see for miles and miles due to the great visibility. We had photos taken at the top before making our way down the other side. This time it was a combination of metal catwalks and wooden planks at the end which made me nervous but I had survived the rest so was OK with it. The climb leader was really good at giving us information about the bridge and the surrounding area – he also joked with us and made the girl OK with the heights and joked about me and the thought of falling from them – “we’re now about 140m above the water – or about 7 seconds straight down” was a quote I remember from him.
The experience was really memorable and I’m glad I did it. I purchased the photos at the end as a souvenir before going for lunch with somebody else that was on the climb on his own – a guy from Adelaide. We stopped at the Australia hotel which is famous for its pizza – including Kangaroo pizza. I didn’t have the stomach for that so had Tandoori Chicken Pizza which had huge chunks of chicken with cheese and a mint dressing and tasted really nice! After lunch I parted ways with the other guy and went off to the Pylon lookout – a museum exhibit with great views that was included in the price of the Bridge Climb.
That evening I did some more random exploring and took some more photos.
This morning I made an early start for the other explorer bus, the Sydney explorer, which concentrates more on the city than the buses on other routes. First I got off at Macquarie’s Chair – a lookout made by the first governor for his wife. A few photos later it was back onto the bus to do the most of the tour in one go due to the rain. I had to reconfirm my transfer to the airport so got off at the stop next to my hotel, confirmed it by phone, then got back on the next bus to finish the tour.
I spent some time exploring the Botanical Gardens that lead from the Opera House to Macuquarie’s Chair and took some really great photos which I’ve put below. It was nice to just take some time to relax in the small break in the rain. It didn’t last long though so I got back on the explorer bus and stayed on a few stops until Hyde Park where I got off and spent some time at the Museum of Sydney. It’s a nice little museum telling you about the city and was a nice place to escape the rain despite museums generally making me bored very quickly. I planned to do some more exploring but the rain kept arriving so I made it back to the hotel to relax with a movie.
Tomorrow I’m leaving Australia and flying home via Bangkok, Thailand. I have a mid-morning departure from the hotel so have booked an early tour of the Sydney Opera House in the morning.