Bridge Climb! Bucket List Item. 54 Hours In Sydney

Thanks for stopping by to read about my quick trip to Sydney.  I’m trying to do a better job of wrapping these up more quickly so I’m hoping to bang this one out in between family vacations.  Here’s roughly what I expect to cover:

Let’s start this post at the end with the quickest of summaries.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.  And, when I go back to Sydney, I’ll absolutely do it again.  How did a bridge I’d never heard of earn a spot on my bucket list for a return visit?

It started with my friend Michael giving me advice on how to spend my two days in Sydney.  Casually, he said, “Well, Bridge Climb.  You should definitely do that.”

Uh, Climb A Bridge????

Hmm, I’d heard of the Opera House and Darling Harbour, but what is Bridge Climb?  It’s exactly what it sounds like.  And, it’s awesome.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Bridge Climb

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was a modern marvel when it was completed in 1932.  Given that it was the tallest arch bridge of its time and the biggest structure in Sydney, the bridge was a major accomplishment for the people of Australia.  The bridge supports lanes for car traffic, trains, bikes and people.  For a fee, they also allow people to climb this marvel.  It’s a guided tour where they talk about the bridge’s construction and various landmarks.  You also summit the bridge at a total height of almost 500 feet from the water below.

Sydney Bridge Climb

I booked the daytime “speed climb”, which still took around two hours.  While it might seem strenuous to climb, it’s really not.  Even for our speed climb there were plenty of short stops along the way.  The steps throughout the bridge are of a low profile, easy to climb for people of various fitness levels (TRANSLATION: Even someone as lumpy and out-of-shape as I am would have no problem climbing).

There are a number of steps to get ready for the climb.  First, there are forms to fill out (of course).  Then, we proceeded to a separate room to get our gear, and yet another to get dressed.

They really do have a plan for everything, with windbreakers, rain coats and heavy jackets available for all.  We were also issued radios with headphones, cords to keep my glasses on, a hanky, and a hat.  After getting all of our gear on we passed through a metal detector to make sure we had no metal on us.  Nope, you can’t bring your camera, too much of a risk if you drop it.  But, they do take pictures along the way.  Your fee includes a group shot, and you can also purchase individual pictures when you’re done.  An individual picture costs either $10 or $15, and there’s a package for $60 if you want all the pictures.

The final steps before proceeding onto the bridge were to get our climbing harnesses on and catch a quick drink of water.  Word of advice, it’s worth your while to grab a sip since you’re out on the bridge for over an hour. They do have a couple of water fountains installed along the way, but water is obviously in short supply on the bridge.

Our climb started out on the lower deck of the bridge, climbing through the superstructure, weaving our way around columns, underneath beams and up flights of stairs.  The entire time, we were clipped in to a railing with no way to unhook.  On the way, our guide asked if anyone was staying at the Park Hyatt, since we were walking right past it.  I raised my hand and that’s when she told everyone that the hotel costs at least $1,000 a night and only rich people stay there.  Uh, oops!  I liked the price I paid just fine (nothing, I used a free night I received as a milestone for staying at 75 unique Hyatt hotels).

After about 15 minutes we popped out over the water and caught our first view of the Opera House from the bridge.  Even with some obstructions, it was a great view.  Shortly thereafter, we climbed through a set of doors and popped up on the level alongside the car traffic.

Sydney Bridge Climb

From there the climb was all views and experience.  It was a perfect day for a climb, slightly chilly but the sun on our backs to keep us warm. Without any clouds, all that was left were unadulterated views of the harbor, opera house and downtown Sydney.  Our guide continued to share information not only about the bridge construction but on Sydney as well.  For a first-time visitor, it was a good narrative.

Sydney Bridge Climb

Sydney Bridge Climb

It’s not cheap.  The daytime “speed climb” I booked cost about 220 USD.  You can find out more about Bridge Climb on their website.  I would suggest booking ahead of time so you don’t miss out.

There’s also an early morning as well as an evening climb.  I think climbing during sunset or at night would be even more incredible.

BridgeClimb Sydney Twilight Climb

BridgeClimb Sydney Skyline

Wrapping Up

Unless you have an extreme fear of heights, Bridge Climb needs to be at the top of your list.  It’s not the cheapest excursion by any means, but it’s worth saving up for.  I spoke a bit with the staff about the types of people they see on a daily basis.  They told me the story of one “regular” who has climbed the bridge more than 100 times.  He’s in his 70s and everyone on the staff knows him.  That’s just wow!

Take off your headphones and the only sound at the top of the bridge is the wind blowing.  The city stretches out around you, beckoning to be explored.  Take just a moment to let it soak in.  The Opera House bathed in sun, boats bobbing along the surface of the water.  The cars are far below, out of earshot.

It’s just you and the bridge, keeping watch on the city.  It’s a moment to remember.

Sydney Bridge Climb

23 Comments

  1. We did it with our teenager last summer. I am not all that adventurous and didn’t think I would do it at first, but I am so very glad I did, it was much less daunting than I expected. Crazy expensive for a family, but a very memorable experience.

  2. It was a great climb. I did it last August. Make sure to wave to the ferry and keep an eye out for weddings when you do the climb.! Beware they don’t let you take your cell phone and you must pass a breathalyzer test prior to the climb so don’t have a drink before you go. Also many times they can squeeze you in last minute but it’s best to plan ahead. Also they usually go even in light rain and don’t cancel too often. Try to go with a friend or family as it defrays the cost of the total picture purchase at the end (you can buy the memory stick they sell with all the pictures uploaded to it and share it with friends and family when you get home.

      1. I did the speed climb mid day as well. They also have an email subscription for special events during the year and a discount here or there. I think sunset would be cool and New Years of course but you might have to sell a kidney to get that reservation!

  3. We did it 10 years ago when it was only about $125 each for our family of 4. But we figured, when will we get back there? And so far we haven’t. Totally worth it for us, and would do it again.

        1. JohnB, I remind people of that frequently, like in my post about the cheap United fares last night. When your airline tickets and hotels are cheap or free, it’s easier to spring for that special dinner/excursion.

  4. We did the sunset climb last year. It was amazing. Totally worth it. We only signed up the day before but slots were limited.

  5. Have been to Australia twice now and have done the climb both times. The first time was a daytime climb in early August (winter) 10 years ago and we did an evening climb last October (spring). At first I was a little disappointed we’d be doing an evening climb but thank goodness we did. Even in October it was quite humid and we worked up a sweat climbing – mostly because of those jumpsuits. I cannot even imagine how hot it would have been during the day when you’re up top with absolutely no cover. But it’s great fun and I’d be happy to do it again if I ever get back to Sydney!

    Oh, and like you we were staying at the Park Hyatt on this last trip and we also got teased about staying there. We just smiled knowing the stay wasn’t costing us a dime!

      1. Actually quite good. Of course we couldn’t see things way out in the distance but it made the city views more interesting with all the lights. And of course the spotlights on the Opera House made it stand out as well.

        On one night of our stay at the PH there was a fireworks show over the SOH which made for some really nice photos.

  6. I did it two or three years ago when fires in the Blue Mountain area was going on. Definitely do it. The bridge is amazing thing to view, even better when you are on it. It also gives you free access to the bridge towers afterwards for more great photos. I paid for their photo package and you get a commemorative usb drive, photos and certificate. You do a quick climb on a indoor structure to make sure you are ready and then on to the bridge. I was 280 lbs at the time and did it with no problem. The tour was slow as there are 10 groups on the bridge when I went.

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