The Sydney harbor is a beautiful, spectacular natural harbor in the world. The stunning coastline and remarkable architecture amazed me when I first saw the photos in travel books as a 5-year-old kid. But of course, the harbor had dramatic changes since then – more and more skyscrapers were built along the coast to cope with the city’s rapid growth. Even so, the most iconic architecture remained peacefully and quietly, overlooking the wonderful natural wonder.
Less than 20 years ago, smart businessmen launched the Bridge Climb experience for tourists to enjoy the harbor view on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and this activity was the first of its kind all over the world. Now, whenever someone tells me they are planning to go to Sydney, I recommend them to go to the Bridge Climb.
It was a wonderful day with a clear sky, cool weather in September, and perfect timing; and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences that I had when I was in Sydney; (it’s hard to choose between cute Marsupials and natural scenery.) The entire tour takes around 3 hours including the time to gear up and pre-bridge climb briefing. In fact, the Bridge Climb website has a lot of information, which I recommend all participants read it, get prepared for the climb.
The climb starts on the right side (Opera House side) of the bridge and returns to the BridgeClimb Center (based on the BridgeClimb center near the Circular Quay) on the left side (darling harbor side) after crossing the bridge at the summit. Therefore, tourists do not exactly cross the bridge, but instead returning to the starting point after the climb.
Tips and afterthoughts:
- BridgeClimb provides all required gears and outfits for the climb; sun-glasses are absolutely required even on a cloudy day (not to mention the sunny day). Actually, it is basically the only thing climbers could carry to go to the climb. BridgeClimb offers handkerchiefs, sunglasses stripes, caps, fleece, jacket, safety belt, and earphones – which all of them would have a clip to your jumpsuit. Climbers will go through the security check before departure so don’t think about smuggling anything in :). The entire group would be hooked in a line to a safety wire right before the climb until the finish. Therefore once got in, climbers couldn’t switch places, use phones, use cameras, bring water bottles, or go to the toilet!
- I am a little scared of heights. The BridgeClimb is not an extreme sport. The bridge arch is not as steep as I thought. It’s wide and the bottom is covered. We were like walking up a hill made of steel. It is an enjoyable activity for everybody.
- Absolutely no photo-taking by yourself – well, BridgeClimb made it very clear that no phones and no cameras while we were on the bridge. Not only I couldn’t take photos, but also I couldn’t contact the “outside world” for 3 hours straight in the center of a metropolitan in the southern hemisphere. It’s insane! In fact, if they could make hooks and stripes for glasses and caps and all that, it’s not impossible to hook your camera with your jumpsuit, too. I speculate this security excuse was to make sure they can sell you photo packages. During the climb though, the guide would be happy to help you take photos at photo-taking spots as much as he/she can and make sure you are happy with them. My package includes 10 photos, plus a short video of each of us standing at the summit of the bridge, waving and leaving a message of our choice, and finally panning away to the bridge surroundings. To be honest of course I have the slightest and tiniest resentment about this policy. Not being able to bring a camera to the climb and take 1,000 photos is “”unnatural””. Now I think about it more, I agree that it could be disastrous for the tour guide to control the speed and safety of a group if the climbers are all hooked up in a line, but no one is paying any attention to him/her since everyone is too busy handling their cameras or taking photos.
- Lastly, BridgeClimb experience is not cheap… Bridgeclimb would mark up (quite hugely) for a certain time slot; like the “twilight tour” is designed for climbers to see the sunset. I went there in September and the sunset time was a little bit earlier in the evening. We didn’t join the twilight tour but the normal tour @3pm during the day had a full spectacular view of the opera house and harbor, and went back down at around 6pm, just in time to see the romantic sunset on the west side of the bridge. Fantastic!