Sydney Harbour Bridge

Last Updated: 7th Jun 2012

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s most well known and photographed landmarks. It is the world’s largest (but not the longest) steel arch bridge with the top of the bridge standing 134 meters (440 feet) above Sydney Harbour.

Fondly known by the locals as ‘The Coathanger’, the Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrated its 75th birthday in 2007, after its official opening in March 1932. One of the great icons of the city and the country, its running mate, the Sydney Opera House is also nearby.

History

As early as 1815 there were proposals to bridge the gap between the northern and southern shores of the harbour, however it wasn’t until after the First World War that more serious plans were made. The New South Wales Department of Public Works in 1922 ran a competition for the design and construction of the bridge, eventually won by an English company.

The Bridge was begun in 1924 and took 1400 men eight years to build. Six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction and it now carries eight traffic lanes and two rail lines.

The Tyne Bridge in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England is a much smaller version of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and there is traditionally much controversy surrounding the two bridges and which one may have been a model for the other. The Tyne Bridge opened in 1928 (4 years before the Sydney bridge was finished in 1932) but the plans were submitted for the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1924.

The Bridge Climb

The BridgeClimb is fantastic and one of the ‘must do’s’ while on a trip to Sydney. Testament to this is that even royals and celebrities, such as Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark, Matt Damon, Hugo Weaving and Kylie Minogue all having done the Climb.

BridgeClimb started in 1998 and attracts tourists and locals alike to climb the monument. After climbing through catwalks and up ladders and stairs, the view is absolutely breathtaking. There are day, twilight and night climbs and a group of twelve will leave for a climb every ten minutes. The safety precautions taken include a blood alcohol reading and a Climb Simulator, which shows Climbers the climbing conditions that might be experienced on the Bridge.

The BridgeClimb is offered as an optional excursion on many Contiki Tours visiting Sydney.

The Pylon Lookout

The Pylon Lookout is at the southern eastern end of the Bridge (The Rocks end) and visitors can go and see an exhibition about the Bridge and well as see the spectacular 360 degree view from the top of the pylon.

The Sydney Harbour Tunnel

The Bridge eventually became so busy that is was decided to build a tunnel under the harbour and the Harbour Tunnel was opened in 1992 . It is 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) long and cost $554 AUS million to construct.