What better way to see Sydney in one go than with the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb? That was our reasoning; even though we’d been in Sydney for a week, as Tom was working, he’d not done much exploring and I had mainly explored the food, rather than the sights. It was our last day and we wanted to spend our time seeing as much as possible.
Sydney Harbour Bridge climb operates from The Rocks, the part of Sydney where most of the convicts were first settled. It’s a short walk from the Central Business District (from the QT hotel on Market Street, it takes approximately 20 minutes to walk) and it offers several different types of climb over Sydney’s iconic bridge. However, I waited several days before I actually booked us in, and even once I’d emailed Tom, (ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS??) and received his reply (YES!) I still hesitated. The price for the twilight climb (which would give us enough time to check out Paddington Market and finalise all the bits and bobs we had to do before we left), was $706 for the both of us. For those of you unfamiliar with the GBP to $AUS exchange rate, that’s £333.70.
However, I got over my skinflinted-ness and booked. It was our honeymoon and who knew how long it would be before we made it back to Sydney. I made a booking for a time slot between 5pm and 6pm. A few minutes after booking, I was told our scheduled time was 5.55pm and to arrive 15 minutes earlier.
The Bridge Climb centre is sparsely decorated, with walkways above where ‘space cadets*’ walk across. Every ten minutes or so, in the ‘waiting area’, the door opens and people are ushered in for their time-slot. Once in the room, with 10 other people, we had a questionnaire to fill in a chirpy team leader whose name I’ve forgotten. Just in case any of us were going to have more fun than should be allowed, each of us was breathalysed. Everyone passed. At this point, our team leader passed us over to Climb Leader, whose name I’ve also forgotten.
It was clear where all our money was going on – there is a lot of equipment, prep and people who are involved in each group’s climb. First, we changed into our jumpsuits and anyone who had sunglasses got to attach a clever little strap to stop these falling off. Then, we all had to walk through one of those scans that you get at airports just to make sure you’re not sneaking any GoPro’s, phones or cameras out with you. This is where your last chance to wee comes in so go! We then had a lesson in putting on our harnesses – a big tool belt which came pre-attached to a ‘lead’ which would clip onto the bridge. After the harness came ‘accessorisation’ – Tom and I picked a beanie each and a hankie (don’t want any snail trails on our suits!), before we were let loose on some trial ladders – although if you don’t know how to climb up and down a ladder by now you’re in serious trouble. finally, we got fitted with radios and headsets. By now it was 6.40pm and we were ready to hit the bridge!
If you do the Bridge Climb, remember to get in line next to the person you came with and also ensure you have someone you like on the other side; you’ll be spending the next 3 hours with them. There’s a little metal ‘rope’ that we slid our lead onto – once we attach onto it, we’re stuck to it for the whole time we’re on the bridge. We started out underneath the bridge which was quite fun, moved onto a narrow walkway (it’s enclosed, don’t worry), passed over some roads (which was thought to be the most scary for those who are scared of heights as you can look right over the drop), ducked under some bridge supports and passed the blue granite pillars which were actually built to fool the Australians – our guide told us a fun story that most people thought the bridge would collapse during the building period so they built these to pacify people. It seemed to work. A few steep ladder climbs later and we were on the top of the bridge! For anyone who wonders if it would be scary, it’s not – the pathways are wide and you can’t see a drop directly below. To call it a climb is perhaps a little misleading – it’s more like a gentle hill walk but I guess that doesn’t sound so good… Anyway, it’s spectacular when you get onto the bridge – you really can see for miles around – all the way to the Blue Mountains. And our guide had some interesting stories to tell us, ranging from how many people died during construction, to especially naughty convicts, and the British lack of imagination. We had approximately 20 minutes on the top of the bridge before the sun began to set.
The bridge climb takes you up to the halfway point before it loops back on the other side, and we were on the bridge in total for 2 hours. If you simply walked the whole thing, at a reasonable speed, you’d complete the section within 30 minutes max; it’s not far to walk. My favourite sight was Luna Park, it’s a creepy little theme park that has a small variety of rides and lots of scarily painted clowns. It looks gorgeous from above. I also especially loved watching the boats and seeing the blue of the Sydney Opera House. There’s also several photo points, plus one group photo – these are all taken from different points on the bridge, allowing for a good range of backgrounds. Our guide even let us take short videos. Some people, apparently, just look awkward, some give messages to their loved ones back at home, some sing. We pretended to be Australian news reporters.
Once back in the centre, our guide gave us a cap each (yay!) before we disrobed and headed back into the reception to view the photos taken out on the bridge. We were also handed a certificate and a print-out of our group photo. Other photos taken were displayed on screen and you can choose where you want to buy them. There are bundle packages but one photo on its own costs $20. We had 9 photos of us taken in total but whilst some of them were fun, the price put us off. And we figured we had the video. To claim the video we were given a code which we typed into a computer and had it sent to our email address – we received it immediately.
By 9.30pm we had finished and decided to end our evening with a trip to the Australian, a pub not too far away that our guide had recommended whilst on the bridge.
Tom’s words were, ‘It was an expensive way to have a lot of fun.’ And I agree, $700 is a lot of money and would have, for example, got us a night’s stay and dinner at the Mandarin in Singapore, somewhere we really wanted to stay. Personally, I think it was too expensive – the guides are fantastic and knowledgeable and fun but you can also walk the main part of the bridge for free and climb the pylon for a fragment of the price. I can’t deny it was fun though!
What we got for our $706 Bridge Climb
- A group photo, printed out
- A short 20 second video, emailed to us
- A blue Bridge Climb cap
- A Bridge Climb certificate with our names on
- Passes to the Pylon
What to wear
For anyone who likes to come over-prepared, you couldn’t have beaten me. I was wearing obstacle course racing shoes (great grip), sports leggings, a sports bra and compression top. Who knew what we’d face!
However, considering they give you a jumpsuit to put on, you could literally turn up naked and you’d be fine. And for those who get cold easily, it’s fine – they have fleeces and hats!
In reality, any of the following would have been fine:
- Closed toe shoes – and if you don’t have any, don’t worry – they have some you can borrow.
- Comfy trousers or shorts (if it’s a hot day)
- Sunglasses if it’s sunny
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Top tip: Eat before you go – especially if you get hanger*
Who’s it for: Tourists who want a different view of Sydney
How much: $353AUS for the Twilight climb. Sample climbs from $158AUS
More information: www.bridgeclimb.com
*I called anyone in the grey and blue jumpsuits, space cadets. Why? Because we looked like them. I’ve obviously been watching too many kids’ sci-fi films…
**Hanger – anger caused by hunger.