In February this year I found myself following in the footsteps of Billy Connolly, Robert de Niro, Princes William and Harry, Bruce Springsteen, Nicole Kidman and most recently Oprah Winfrey. I climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge.
“Introduce yourself and explain why you want to climb the Bridge,” prompted one of the team as she prepared to kit us out.
I was first up. “My name is Bob,”
I started in the confessional tone of an AA meeting, “I’m from Lancashire in the UK and I want to climb the bridge as a way of saying goodbye to Australia after seven great weeks here.” My fellow bridge walkers put up other reasons - for a couple from Rotherham it was a honeymoon present, for a couple from Plymouth it was to celebrate a ruby anniversary, a Swedish young lady had no idea why she wanted to climb the bridge.
There were 14 of us - the maximum size group for a bridge walk. This ice breaking exercise followed more serious formalities - signing a health declaration form, taking a breathalyser and once kitted out passing through a metal detector.
This last one presumably to catch out anyone who might attempt to sneak a camera through as photography is not permitted on the bridge walk. Once we had on our lycra overalls and had stowed our belongings in lockers we were introduced to our guide, Maria who was to supervise us for the three hours or so of our walk. We were led to an area to pick up the most vital piece of equipment - our safety harness. This belted around the waist with an attachment to a metal ratchet like runner.
As we stepped out onto the bridge this was clipped onto a cable that followed the entire route of the walk. In the event of a slip or a fall the device would lock onto the cable. By this means, exposure to risk was reduced to an absolute minimum.
Completed in 1932, Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. It was constructed over a period of eight years and provided employment for 1500 workers during the severe economic depression of that time. All its statistics impress but here’s one to hold on to – 52,800 tonnes of steel girders used for the approach and span itself are held together by six million rivets.
The first part of Bridgeclimb took us on a gangway on the southern approach and then by the south east pylon we scaled a number of ladders to bring us above road level and onto the the arch.
The approach to the summit was negotiated by a long flight of wide, shallow, steel steps - very easy walking indeed. Once on top were at ease to look about us and take in the stupendous view. At $200 BridgeClimb does not come cheap; but the views are worth every penny.