Monday, November 3, 2008

Climbing the Coathanger (Sydney, Australia)


Harry Potter and James Bond have done it. So have Prince Harry and tennis great, Martina Navratilova. Even Cameron Diaz managed it with her typical glamour and style. Not sure what you are thinking, but I am talking about climbing to the top of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Groups of around a dozen embark on this journey every ten minutes. From afar, they look like trails of ants eagerly beavering towards the sugary-sweet highlight of standing atop this metal meccano giant (at 134 metres above the water) and savouring the luscious view along Sydney’s majestic natural harbour. On clear days, the vista extends well past the heads of the harbour and inland to the hazy Blue Mountains. On top of the world, you can gaze over the ferries of Circular Quay, the patrons of the glistening Sydney Opera House and the stunning Sydney skyline. Below cars hasten across this thoroughfare while trains rattle across every few minutes, bringing a gentle shudder across the entire bridge.

Priced at an eye-watering A$180 (it only costs a car $3 to drive across and it is free to walk across at road level), it is an exhilarating experience to walk up ladders and around the girders and supports of this critical transport link, previously only accessible to the bridge painters and workmen. The price includes a group photo and a certificate to remind you of the adventure.

Initially security seems harsher than at airports, though it is performed with far greater humour and good will. No jewellery, loose clothing, cameras, coins or wallets are allowed and pockets must be empty. You clamber into a pair of less than flattering but comfortable grey and blue overalls and sign a disclosure saying if you fall off, then it is your own fault. Mind you, you quickly find out that it would be difficult to manage as you are permanently clipped onto the bridge. Caps, headphones (to hear the guide’s description and instructions) and sunglasses (and wet weather gear if needed) are fixed onto your overalls. The guides jauntily describe data about the bridge such as the bridge contains over six million rivets.

Stepping through a metal detector to ensure that you really don’t have any secreted metal objects and a breathalyser test is conducted to ensure that you are sufficiently sober to climb (you must meet the same standard as a driver of a car), a final briefing is offered before you embark on the climb.

The entire tour runs for around three hours and is a treasured way to experience this most elegant travel wonder and view the glistening blue waters of Sydney Harbour. After all Harry Potter and James Bond would only see Sydney in the best possible manner!

Other Australia Posts
An Obsession with Size
Invasion of the Termites (The Pinnacles)
And Then There Were Eight (Great Ocean Road)
Photo of the Week - Olympics and Opera House

11 comments:

Quickroute said...

Before it became a tourist attraction the rebel locals used to do it after a few beers just for kicks!

Jenny said...

Exhilarating! The altitude and the thrill. Weeeeee!

wandermom said...

I'm totally lost on the Harry Potter references but this does sound worth the damage.
Adding to our to-do list for the RTW trip we're planning.
Thanks for the idea.

Mark H said...

@quickroute: Quite correct, a right of passage. Managed that in the early 80s!

@wandermom: the place keeps a gallery of famous celebs who have done the bridge climb. It includes Daniel Radcliffe and Piers Brosnan (James Bond) who played the relevant roles in the famous movies.

iWalk said...

I saw somebody climbing everytime I was walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But I am a little acrophobia and can't play such a game.

Justin Wright said...

I hope to travel to Australia next year and would love to do something like this. Hopefully I can give it a shot.

Mark H said...

@iwalk: You still got to experience the bridge. Walking across is a great thing to do.

@justin: Book ahead. Good luck in your visit to Australia.

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Lifecruiser said...

Wow! that's an extraordinary tour! I'm not really sure I'd do it, since I'm afraid of heights :-(

- but it must be a stunning sight from there!

Mark H said...

@lifecruiser: They are meant to be very helpful and friendly to those worried about heights. There are plenty of other good views from Sydney.

rony said...

it would not be child's play to climb there, but every effort plays its own role
cheap tickets to australia

 
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