Sydney Harbour Bridge, New South Wales

Sydney, New South Wales 2000

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, spanning the width of Sydney Harbour. Trains, cars, bicycles, and pedestrians sweep across the bridge everyday, getting from one part of Sydney City to another.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Nearby, the impressive architecture of the Sydney Opera House forms an incredible backdrop for seeing the bridge.

Before the Bridge

Nowadays, Sydney is known for it’s easy to navigate centre, with locals able to speed from one end of the city to the other seamlessly. This is mostly due to the Harbour Bridge, making the journey from the Sydney centre to the north side easy and breezy. However, this wasn’t always the case, with getting to and from the north side of Sydney quite an ordeal. Either involving a ferry or taking a trilevel, 20-kilometre route which went over five separate bridges. Due to this difficulty, a suggestion to create a connecting bridge was proposed by the convict architect Francis Greenway in 1815. However, the idea was soon overruled, due to the overpowering cost and technical difficulties of the time. Until it wasn’t until the 1900s when the idea started to become a realistic idea. With the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act proposal passing in 1922.

The Design of the Bridge

The bridge was designed and built by Dorman Long and Co Ltd, a British company, back in the 1930s. There is still a fair amount of controversy on who actually designed the end product. With the engineer Dr JJC Bradfield having a long-lasting control, being head of the bridge operation. As well as Ralph Freeman, who was the consulting engineer and also claimed as the designer.

The Bridge’s Construction

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia

It was officially opened in 1932, showcasing a design that was heavily based on the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City. Today, it is the tallest and largest steel arch bridge in the world and the sixth-longest.

The entire construction of the Bridge started in 1924 and lasted all the way until 1932. The entire project took hundreds of engineers, boilermakers, carpenters, surveyors, stonemasons, and many more. Estimating that there were around 2,000 to 4,000 workers employed during the Bridge’s construction. At the time it was said to be the largest and hardest structure Australia has ever attempted, with sixteen deaths and numerous injuries in its ten years of creation.

It took a lot of effort to Build

With many of the machines we use today not existing at the time, a lot of construction needed manual labour. With the entire bridge’s 6 million hand-driven rivets done by workers. As well, it was said around 272,000 litres of paint was used to give the bridge its three layers of paint.

At the time it was said to be the largest and hardest structure Australia has ever attempted, with sixteen deaths and numerous injuries in its ten years of creation. It is estimated that the project cost around 500 million dollars, taking 55 years to be paid off.

The Bridge’s Opening

After its finish construction, the bridge opened to the public, with visitors allowed to walk across it, which was only repeated 50 years later in 1982 due to its anniversary. It cost 6 pence to cross by car, and 3 pence by horse-which has now changed to $3.30 for cars only.

How to See Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

There are numerous ways you can experience Sydney Harbour Bridge, depending on whether you want to explore it from high up or from the ground below.

  • Climb the Bridge

    One of the most popular ways to get up close and personal with the bridge is to climb it, an activity that has been available since 1998. As you take the exhilarating climb to the very top, you’ll learn more about the structure and its place in Sydney as you go. From the top, you’ll be able to gaze out across the breath-taking views. Make sure to smile for the camera at the top, for this could very well be the most picturesque photo of your life!

  • Scenic Helicopter Flight

    If you’ve got a little bit more travel money to spare, why not ride in luxury? To see it from a different perspective, you can take a helicopter flight to get magnificent aerial views. This is one of the most luxurious ways to experience the bridge.

  • Take a Ferry

    Ferries and cruises glide below the bridge every single day, taking their passengers from Circular Quay to Manly, Mosman, Taronga Zoo, and other popular hot spots. If you want to go directly beneath the bridge, catch a ride from Luna Park or McMahons Point. If you’d prefer tucking into some delicious lunch amidst the sea waves, take part in the lunch cruise option. Here you can enjoy freshly caught seafood, washing it down with a delicious sparkling wine.

  • Kayak Underneath

    For the more adventurous traveller, there is the chance to kayak beneath the bridge, exploring some of the city’s best-loved beaches and small islands. This activity gives you a first-hand experience into the Sydney scenery, letting you immerse yourself in the sparkling sapphire waters and incredible islands.

  • Walk It

    For many, taking a simple walk across the bridge is the best way to experience everything it has to offer. If you walk on the easterly side, you’ll be exposed to stunning views of the Opera House. It takes about 15 minutes to walk the length of the bridge, but if you want something a bit more hardcore, you can traverse the 30km trail between Sydney Harbour Bridge at South Head, which takes in dramatic views of the harbour.

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