History and Adventure on Sydney Harbour Bridge

History and Adventure on Sydney Harbour Bridge

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 02/16/2017

Reading time: 3 mins

Sydney City boasts some of the world’s most recognisable attractions, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of them.

Spanning the Sydney Harbour, this steel arch bridge let’s pedestrians, cars, trains, and cyclists pass from the Central Business District to the North Shore. It is set close to the impressive Sydney Opera House, providing a unique backdrop to this part of the city.

The History of Sydney Harbour Bridge

The bridge was originally designed and built by Dorman Long and Co Ltd, a British firm that was directed by Dr John Bradfield who worked for the NSW Department of Public Works. It eventually opened in 1932, and is loosely based on the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City. Today, it is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge on the planet and the world’s tallest steel arch bridge. Unfortunately, it no longer takes the title of widest long-span bridge, because the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver overtook it in 2012.

Bridge Climb

While many tourists are satisfied with simply walking, driving, cycling, or getting the train across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, some people want to make their visit a little more adventurous.

During the 1950s and 60s there were a number of newspaper reports that showed people illegally climbing across the arches of the bridge at night. In 1973, Phillipe Petit walked across a wire that was hung between the two pylons at the southern end, causing locals and tourists to covet crossing the bridge in a unique and adrenalin-pumping way.

It wasn’t until 1998, though, that BridgeClimb made it possible for people to legally climb the southern half of the bridge. Climbers must wear protective clothing and are given a briefing and an orientation before they begin their tour. During the climb, visitors are attached to the bridge itself by a wire lifeline, with the tour taking around three-and-a-half hours including preparation at the briefing.

Sydney Harbour Bridge offers an iconic addition to the city’s skyline and is well worth visiting if you want to learn more about this magnificent structure and its surroundings, or if you want to explore one of Sydney’s most popular attractions in a unique and adventurous way. Once up on the structure, you’ll have spectacular views across the Harbour and the rest of the city, where you can pick out other landmarks like the nearby Sydney Opera House. But for a more leisurely exploration, simply take a stroll across the bridge.

Related article: The History Behind Sydney’s Opera House

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.