5 things you must know before climbing the sydney

5 things you must know before climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with the Opera House, has put Sydney on the international map. You could say one was a symbol of Australia’s engineering know-how, the other our cultural aspirations. The myths abound about the bridge: that it’s haunted; that once you finish painting it you have to start again; that its particular shade of grey is for it alone. Some of them are true, but before you go climbing one of the world’s most recognisable icons, here are five things you need to know.

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  1. It’s not Vertigo!

Thanks to Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same name, many people believe vertigo is a fear of heights. In fact, vertigo is a dizziness caused by your brain thinking you’re in motion when you’re not. What you’re really experiencing when you are clinging to a piece of grey steel 130 metres above Sydney Harbour is acrophobia – and that is not the best time to discover you have it! BridgeClimb Sydney, which operates the climbs, says, “We have helped thousands of people challenge their fear of heights by climbing to the top of the bridge.” So this could be your chance to not only climb the bridge, but overcome a personal obstacle.

  1. Let’s get physical

It takes up to three and a half hours to climb the bridge, and anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do it. If you’re pregnant, you need to be less than 24 weeks and have a certificate from your GP to say you’re fit – otherwise it’s no climbing for you. There’s lots of stair and ladder climbing, as you might expect, so no kids younger than 10 are allowed (you also have to be taller than 1.2m). If you’re worried about what to wear, don’t be – you get a ‘bridge suit’ in blue and grey that keeps you warm and dry. You are also issued with a harness which is attached to the bridge when you’re stationery, for obvious reasons.

  1. How much does it cost?

The best things in life are free – like sunsets and sunrises – but unfortunately, if you climb the bridge these are peak times and they cost more. When I first checked the booking site, I couldn’t see the dawn climbs listed, which is what I wanted, but that’s because they only happen once a month. Once you find the right day (spot the red asterisk) you’ll find that for an adult it costs $358. However, a regular climb during daytime costs $258. A ‘Sampler’ climb takes only an hour and a half and costs $148. This takes you on the less high inner arch of the bridge and only goes half way up. Perfect for the acrophobic (see point 1).

  1. What people say

“It’s exhilaration, it’s heart-pumping happiness,” is how one of the climb leaders described the feeling when you first stand on top of the bridge. Another climb leader described the atmosphere of the dawn climb, which begins in darkness. “When you make your way out here everyone’s a bit quieter. You can hear a pin drop on the bridge, there’s no traffic. Eventually we’re standing on top of the bridge and we’re seeing the magnificent sunrise.” Cameras, umbrellas and other objects are not permitted on the climb. A souvenir photo is taken, but some people on social media say they would prefer images taken with their own camera. That’s understandable, but it’s not hard to see why they don’t want you taking up objects that might easily find themselves plummeting onto a car or pedestrian below!

  1. Facts and figures
  • The myth about the bridge having its registered trademark colour is actually true: a non-lead based paint called ‘Harbour Bridge Grey’ is used, taking 30,000 litres for one coat
  • The bridge has an annual maintenance budget of $18 million
  • NSW Premier John Lang cut the opening ribbon in 1932, but he was the second man to do so. A right-wing soldier on horseback cut it first with a sword as a protest that a member of the Royal Family should have had the honour, not a Labour politician
  • The bridge is 1.15km long and stands 134 metres above the harbour
  • To clear the way for the bridge some 800 family homes were demolished without compensation
  • Around 180,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day


The Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is one of those suggestions to which you’ll either respond ‘Yes!’ or ‘Forget it!’ But if you can afford it, and you have no problem with heights, it might just be a great conversation starter one day to say – “I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge!”


(Feature image: Travel Stock Photos)

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