In a word – yes. In several hundred other words, I’ll explain why.
I turned 25 recently (thanks for all the cards guys…) and for my birthday, my significant other surprised me with a the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb experience!
We’ve both lived in Sydney close to a year now and see the bridge a lot. We’ve seen the little dots of people zipping up and down the bridge at all hours of the day, in all kinds of weather and have had a kind of muted desire to get up there ourselves.
I love Sydney Harbour. I think the day you get bored of seeing the Opera House and the Bridge, that’s when you’re done in Australia (I’m still not bored, so I’ll stick it out).
When it was announced that on the morning of September 28th (keep it in the diary for next year, kids) we’d be heading up the Bridge ourselves, I kind of didn’t know what to think.
I’d seen the price of the climb and, thankfully, we were going out of season so it is much less expensive than it could be. We also opted for a day-time slot rather than the more expensive dawn or dusk options.
We’ll get the prices out of the way first so you know what’s going on. A daytime climb depending on the time of year you go sets you back $248-$268, a twilight climb is $308-$348, a night climb is $218-$228 and a dawn climb is $348-$358.
It is a big chunk of money. Luckily, we had it thanks to a couple of jobs that pay us pretty well (I’d still take a pay rise though…) and a house-share which doesn’t set us back too much money.
You’ve got to arrive for your climb and hour before your designated time, you check in with the lovely ladies at reception and then wait for a bit.
One thing to remember, and the first thing you’re asked to do when you arrive is to puff a breathalyser test. You can’t climb the bridge with alcohol in your system so if you plan on hitting the bridge – lay off the goon the night before.
You’re then taken through the motions of getting ready to climb. You have to wear a very trendy jumpsuit, put clips on your sunglasses so they don’t fall off and are given a lovely baseball cap to wear if you so desire.
After the awkward ‘tell us a fact about you’ ice-breaker, you and your group head to the bridge simulator.
How awesome does a bridge simulator sound?! It’s actually a couple of ladders and a bit of scaffolding that your guide gets to demonstrate the correct ladder technique on!
Once we were fully ladder qualified it was time to clip in and get walking.
Our group of about 20 was a mixed bag. At 25, I was the youngest so that gives you a bit of an idea of the crowd to expect. As you walk underneath the bridge itself to start with, your guide tells you a bit of the history of the area and how the bridge was constructed. All good pub quiz knowledge.
Then come the ladders. Fresh off our training, we head up…and up…and up…
The first ladder is about 50 metres off the ground (you’re walking below the road at this point) and by the time you finish you’re on the bridge proper as the traffic flies by.
Once the set of four ladders are out the way, the views starts to unfold. You head north up the bridge, stopping along the way for some photos that your guide takes and continue with a bit of the history of the city itself.
The view is spectacular the whole way. I love a tall building whatever city I’m in, I always want to head up the highest point and check it out. While the bridge isn’t the highest point in the city it’s the feeling of being somewhere you probably shouldn’t be that makes the view so special.
I’ve never been on top of a bridge so I can’t really compare it to my previous bridge climbs but in comparison with say, the Westfield Tower in Sydney, it is totally different.
The Westfield is a bit dull. It’s the same old tall building schtick. You go up in a really quick elevator, have a look around, marvel at people actually paying for those binocular things and then head back down.
It happened to be an absolutely glorious day when we took our climb so that helps but we could see for miles whichever way we looked.
The peak of the bridge is 138 metres above the harbour and it gets pretty windy even on a relatively calm day like the day we reached the summit. The flags wave triumphantly above you and the view makes you gasp.
The Opera House is the standout of course but the city gleams behind you and the traffic whizzes below. The harbour, it’s expanse of blue dotted with sailboats and ferries is way bigger than you think and you can even glimpse the Blue Mountains in the distance.
It’s tough to describe what is so good about the Bridge Climb. Once you’re at the top you realise what you’re doing. The bridge itself is such a feat of engineering (3 million steel rivets by my count) and you get a feeling of the huge nothingness that the first European settlers much have sailed into.
When we were at the top, some guy proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes, everyone cheered, other boyfriends felt uncomfortable) before we head directly over the bridge and on to the other side for the descent.
You try and savour every moment while you’re up there and you do get a fair amount of time at the summit before plodding off to take a few more photos on the way back down.
Then come the ladders. It’s time to go down them and it takes a few in our group a while to navigate – they should have paid attention in ladder school – before we are eventually back on terra firma and we get to take the jumpsuits off.
The photos are all available for purchase (obv.) and they are a bit of a rip off at $15 a pop but how often do you get a snap at the top of a world landmark?
That’s the thing about it, you are up one of the most recognisable structures in the world, looking over one of the most recognisible places in the world and both are truly unique. The Hancock Tower and the Empire State Building give you an idea of the sprawl of their respective cities, the London Eye gives you a different perspective on the Thames and its surrounds but the bridge climb and Sydney itself are one-of-a-kind.
It is expensive, you’ll get no argument from me on that front, but it is definitely worth it just so every time you see the bridge you can think ‘I’ve been up that!’
If you’re pockets aren’t that deep, make sure you check out the pylon on the bridge (one of the big granite blocks at either end of the bridge). The easiest one to access, city side near The Rocks, is also a viewing platform which gives you an idea of the view you get up the top for $12.
It isn’t the same though. Nothing is the same as walking up those many steps to the peak of the bridge and gazing out over one of the greatest cities in the world.
If you want to book a Bridge Climb with UltimateOz, get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do!