Sydney Harbour Bridge



The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of those attractions that looks good in guide books and on websites, and doesn't disappoint in any way when you see it in person. A truly massive structure, it was designed by Doctor John Bradfield, following an original suggestion by the convict architect Francis Greenway back in 1815. Started in 1923, the 550 metre "Coathanger" is the largest single arch bridge in the world. Built at a cost of $AUS 20 million, it is held together by 6 million rivets, and finally opened to traffic in 1932.


The day was marked by a huge parade and excited Sydneysiders were given their first opportunity to walk across the structure, which would link the northern suburbs with the main city for the first time.


They had to wait another 50 years for a repeat performance, when the bridge was closed to traffic once again during the bridge's birthday celebrations in 1982.


The Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as being a vital route for traffic heading to and from the north, provides unparalleled views of the city, harbour and Opera House, and a walk along the pathway which stretches from Cumberland Street in the Rocks, all the way over to Milson's Point on the north shore, is highly recommended. En route, why not take advantage of the Observation Pylon at the southern end of the bridge.


For a nominal $AUS 2 ($AUS 1 concessions), you can feast your eyes on some fascinating historical facts, old photos and get a real sense of what this bridge really means to the city. At the top of the tower there is an observation platform which overlooks the harbour and, though the pylon is obviously far shorter than the AMP Centrepoint Tower, it gives a more detailed view of what is surely one of the most beautiful harbours in the World.


Whilst on the northern side, why not take a look at Luna Park Alfred Street, Milson's Point - a Sydney institution that has seen better days. Standing on the site that the Bridge workshops used to occupy, the amusement park became an essential day out for children in Sydney in its hey-day, but was closed in 1979 by fire on the Ghost Train. Various proposals have been put forward for the site, ranging from updating it to modern day standards with a massive rollercoaster, to levelling it completely and turning it into a hotel or residential complex.


It had its 40 year lease up for sale and remained closed until recently, empty, and yet eerily fascinating to visit with the abandoned dodgems and trademark smiley face at the entrance. Luna Park, combined with the municipal Olympic Pool just up the road gives a sense of the new era which dawned on the north shore once the Bridge had opened.


If the half hour walk across the bridge and sightseeing on the north shore has left you exhausted, you can catch a train from Milson's Point Station, which is built into the bridge. Better still, take a stroll through Kirribilli, towards the ferry wharf. Go via the official residence of the federal prime minister at Kirribilli House (1855), and the Queen's representative, the Governor General, next door at Admiralty House (1846) Kirribilli Avenue. These houses are occasionally opened to the public, but when they are shut, the police who stand guard at the gates seem happy to talk you though some of the houses' history.


The wharf is a little further down in Holbrook Avenue and you can catch the ferry back to Circular Quay from here. It is a 4-5 minute trip that will give you another scenic perspective on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


For those with a real sense of adventure, and $AUS 98 in their pocket, why not try a bridge climb. It has been 70 years in the making, but now Sydneysiders and visitors alike can get a unique view of the city from the top of the Bridge. Naturally, all the safety gear is supplied, and the three hour climb is sure to be a lifelong memory. A weekend climb up Sydney Harbour Bridge will set you back $AUS 120, a night climb $120 - $140. Book through your travel agent.


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