I have now joined the likes of Nicole Kidman, Will Smith, Prince Harry, Pierce Brosnan, Brendan Fraser, Danni Minogue and other famous people who I forget... Anyway, I have now climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge! It was excellent, the views over the world's largest natural harbour were amazing. Well worth waiting for a nice day as well, the sun was out, the sky was blue, the water was sparkling below us. Our guide, Victor was very informative, humourous and friendly, telling us about how the bridge was made, and pointing out all the sites you could see from the top of the arch. It was definately a memorable experience for my birthday, and if anyone reading this ever goes to Sydney, you should definately think about doing the bridge climb.
First we had to do a breath test to make sure we weren't drunk (good thing it wasn't the day after my birthday eh? Not that I actually drank very much on birthday anyway, only 2 glasses of wine!). We then changed into our very attractive climbing gear, put on the harness, attached our hats and sunglasses to the suit, got our radio and headsets, and then we were ready to go. There were 10 of us in the group, a family from the USA, a couple from Germany, another girl with a Working Holiday Visa who's family were visiting her from the UK, and another couple from the UK.
We walked over 'The Rocks' which is the area that was originally given to the convicts, that no one wanted when the first fleet landed at what is now Circular Quay. The irony is that now on that spot, that no one wanted because it was just rocks and nothing could be done, there now stands the most expensive hotel in Sydney! With the penthouse on top with a 'private' pool costing something like $8000 a night (I think). I say 'private' pool because the Bridge Climb tours come along every 10 minutes and you have a perfect view of it! Apparently last weekend Robbie Williams was out there causing quite a stir!
The real climb started with the ladders up to the arch. We had to go up one by one, they were quite steep, and as you came level with the road we were between 2 lanes of traffic! My knees started to ache, but I didn't have time to complain, as the views were amazing. Next was the walk over the arch itself. Gradually getting higher and higher until we were over 130 metres above sea level. Looking over the whole of Sydney Harbour. Even seeing the Blue Mountains on the horizon, although there are still bushfires so it looked a bit smoky. We saw Anzac Bridge, Goat Island (the second largest island in the harbour), could see Parramatta (the geographical centre of Sydney), the official residences of the Prime Minister and Governor General, the Opera House (obviously, but I felt I ought to mention it!), oh and we saw the building where they filmed that sequence in the first Matrix film where the helicopter crashes into a building. We had a group photo taken and then 4 individual(well, individual groups on the climb, but I was on my own) photos throughout the rest of the climb. And we made our way across the centre of the bridge and down the other side.
So, an exhausting 3 and a half hours, but worth it! A birthday present I'm never going to forget! I thought I might be a bit scared of being so high up, but it was fine, you felt safe and kind of forgot how high up you were as what you could see was so amazing.
Anyway, that took me until nearly 1pm after we had got out of our gear and filled in feedback forms and got photos and certificates. I then went to the pylon lookout where I could take my own photos over the harbour as we weren't allowed our own cameras on the climb as you can't have anything loose, everything has to be attached. You get a free pass into the Pylon if you do the climb, which is good, because I'm not sure I'd pay the money to just go into the Pylon, its $9 and it does include a little museum on how they built the bridge, but I wouldn't say it's that good. Still, for free and to take my own photos it was ok.
I now don't really like steps (there was something like 1169 steps up the bridge or something) and am very very tired!
I'm going to Canberra for a couple of days at the beginning of next week and then to Melbourne on the 20th December as it breaks up the journey. This time I'm going to be going by Greyhound Australia, so probably less comfortable than the train but never mind!