SYDNEY HARBOR BRIDGE
Ivor on top of the world
HEAD DOWN UNDER FOR
THE CLIMB OF YOUR LIFE
Interviewed Australian actor Paul Hogan when he first came
to Hollywood. Remember "Hogues?" He "put a shrimp on the
barbie" and made a fortune for the Aussie tourist office.
And of course he was the affable star of the Crocodile
Hogan told me that he’d started as
a painter on the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge.
"You were perched up like God on
the bridge with the spectacular Opera House and the harbor
below," he said. "It was a
million dollar view….
better than being a movie star."
Here I am, almost a quarter
century later, the intrepid travel writer far from Ventura
County, California, and I’m climbing the Harbor Bridge. This
is one of the most iconic bridges in the world (along with,
of course, San Francisco’s famous structure which you can
walk along but would be carted off to jail should you dare
to climb it).
The Down Under "BridgeClimb" is a
huge tourist draw. You can do it if you’re over 10, in good
health and free from vertigo. What a memorable trek it is,
well worth the $l80 Aussie dollar tariff ($160 U.S.
View from the bridge
So far the bridge has drawn over
2.4 million climbers since it opened, including Al Gore,
Bette Midler, Richard Branson, Robert De Niro, Prince Harry
of England, and the screen’s Harry Potter, Daniel
Radcliffe. And now me!
You can do it morning, noon or
night. I chose the Express afternoon climb—the
shortest—which takes three hours.
Our guide, Richard Graham, who
used to be a rock and roll musician, has a line of jokes
and anecdotes about the bridge’s 78-year-history that could
qualify him for a standup routine at the Comedy Club.
During the prep session, after
you’ve donned a kind of astronaut flight suit in high tech
shades of blue and grey they breathalyze you just in case
you’ve fortified your spirit with too many of the other kind
of spirits which might make for a more heady experience than
you bargained for.
You are provided with earphones
for Graham’s patter, your hats and glasses are attached to
your body in case of high winds, and you’re harnessed to a
steel guide wire, all the way up and down.
Climbing the steel bridge
Up 1,300 steep stairs, along metal
ramps and narrow walkways, you climb to the top to relish
those stunning panoramic views. No refreshments, no
bathrooms, although there are a couple of water fountains.
And sorry no cameras, which are thought to be a risky
Not worry. At the top you get your
picture taken by the guide.
You can get married at the top of
the bridge, but your wedding party must max out at
14—including bride and groom.
It’s an experience not to miss. It
will go into your memory bank as one of those defining
moments you will never forget.
I fully appreciate what the
bridge painter turned movie star Paul Hogan was raving
Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge,
5 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney.
Phone: 011-612-9240 1141.