Experience Sydney Harbour Bridge

Experience Sydney Harbour Bridge
Feature photo: Shanti Hesse / Shutterstock.com
Think of Sydney, and it’s quite likely the Sydney Harbour Bridge will come to mind. The iconic steel bridge, dubbed the Coathanger by Sydneysiders because of its appearance, connects the northern and southern shore of the city’s stunning harbour and is one of Australia’s best-known landmarks.

The bridge officially opened in 1932 after an eight year construction period that involved 1,400 workers, 16 of whom lost their lives in the process. The fruit of their labours now stands 134 metres above the harbour, making it the world’s tallest steel arch bridge, although temperature changes mean the top of the arch can rise and fall up to 18 centimetres.

And while many commuters cross the bridge by car, by bus and by train on a daily basis, you can also climb the monument with BridgeClimb. Since 1998, the company has taken more than 3 million local and international visitors high above the water with catwalks, ladders and stairs.

Slightly less daring but just as spectacular is a visit to the Pylon Lookout at the bridge’s southern eastern end which offers 360 degree views, and also an exhibition about the bridge.

“…you can see it from every corner of the city, creeping into frame from the oddest angles, like an uncle who wants to get into every snapshot. From a distance it has a kind of gallant restraint, majestic but not assertive, but up close it is all might. It soars above you, so high that you could pass a ten-storey building beneath it, and looks like the heaviest thing on earth. Everything that is in it – the stone blocks in its four towers, the latticework of girders, the metal plates, the six-million rivets (with heads like halved apples) – is the biggest of its type you have ever seen… This is a great bridge.” Bill Bryson in Down Under, 2001

Unique Things to See and Do in/near Sydney Harbour Bridge

  • Summit the Bridge with BridgeClimb
  • Discover its history and 360 views at the Pylon Lookout
  • Explore the Rocks area with its rich history and amazing views of the Bridge
  • Take to the water for a spin around the harbour beneath the giant arches
  • Head for Luna Park for some ferris wheel fun on the water
  • Simply cross the bridge – the views are unbeatable and its cheap!

Visiting Sydney Harbour Bridge

If heights aren’t your thing and you would prefer not to actually climb the bridge, then view it from the water. Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, Mosman or Taronga Zoo to see the bridge from the harbour. Ferries from Luna Park or McMahons Point pass directly beneath the bridge or you can hire a kayak or join a guided kayak tour. There are also chartered cruises around the harbour with a number of companies. For white knuckle thrills take a high speed jet boat tour, or step back in time with a sailing aboard an 1850s-style tall ship.

Or if climbing the bridge isn’t high enough for you, then you can splash some cash with a scenic or helicopter flight over the giant coathanger.

However, some people prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground. In that case, The Rocks area is one of the best places to admire the structure while also have a drink or a bite to eat. There are also lots of accommodation options around here.

Or spend the day at fun fair Luna Park where you can take in the views from the restored Ferris Wheel.

Of course, you can simply cross the bridge. Take a stroll along its length from one shore to the other, or hop on a train or bus to really experience what it’s all about.

Getting to Sydney Harbour Bridge

There are two railway stations close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On the north side is Milsons Point, and on the south side is Circular Quay – it’s possible to walk across the bridge from one to the other. If you don’t fancy making the return journey by foot, then you can take either a train or ferry back to your starting point.

Did you know…?

Paul Hogan worked as a painter on the bridge before he found better paying day jobs on TV and making Crocodile Dundee movies.

Did you ALSO know…?

At the time, grey was the only colour paint available in such quantities. The first coat alone took 272 thousand litres.

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