Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Trip Start Jan 19, 2013
Trip End Apr 12, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Monday, February 11, 2013

Today we woke to see nothing but grey clouds which was pretty rubbish considering our string of hot, sunny weather so far. We had a bit of a lie in before heading out to have breakfast in a nearby cafe. BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato) sandwiches seem quite popular here so I had one and Jennie just had some toast. We then headed to Peter Pans to collect our vouchers. They told us that they weren't ready yet so we used their internet for a bit before walking down to find the shop Typo again. I bought some more pens as they're really nice to write with and another journal as the one I have at the moment is filling up quite a lot, like Jennie's is too.

From there we went on a long hunt for a souvenir shop where Jennie could get a Sydney pin. We looked around an indoor market which was more like a small shopping centre but didn't find much. So we returned to the tourist information centre in Darling Harbour where Jennie remembered she had seen a nice one. After buying it, we headed back to Peter Pans and collected our vouchers. It all seemed a bit easy, as she just went through what each voucher was for and the details of where to be etc and that was it. I think we both felt a bit stumped by that so headed back to the hostel, had a short nap and chatted to a few people in our room.

When it was just before 6 we headed out to get to the Harbour Bridge to do our climb. It took us a while to find the right bus to get as they are all quite confusing and not labelled that well. Eventually we got to Circular Quay where it was about a 15 minute walk to the Bridge Climb centre. On the way we both got a Thai Chicken Pie from Pie Face which was so hard to eat on the move. We arrived at the centre with about half an hour to spare so after checking in we just walked through a small exhibition they had and star-spotted a few celebrities who had climbed the bridge. Jennie was most excited to see that Bruce Springsteen was among them.

At 7pm, we went to the upstairs area until our climb group was called. At 7:05 which was our climb time, a man appeared from behind one of the doors and asked us to all come in. We had to fill out a short health and safety form and have a breathalyser test to check we weren't hammered on alcohol! After that we went through to the next room where we were given our climbing jumpsuits and got changed into them. Following that, we were slowly equipped with our harness and told how to wear it and use it, then a head light, then they attached a rain coat in a bag and fleece in a bag too us and offered a beanie hat which clipped to the back of our suit. Once we had all that on which weighed a fair amount, we had to go through '5 weeks of training in 5 minutes' as our guide Guy told us. He was really friendly and quite funny as well. He told us that he had done the climb about 2000 times which wasn't much compared to the oldest guide who had been there who'd done 6000 climbs! Guy also said he had been the guide for Richard Branson which was pretty cool. Apparently Richard said when we got to the top that this was 'Virgin territory' and so now only Virgin planes fly over the bridge area or something like that.

Anyway, the climb training was just two extremely vertical staircases attached to a crossing bridge and then another two vertical staircases down. All we had to do was climb up and back down. It was quite easy but so steep. Once we had all done it and thankfully everyone passed, we got given headsets so that we could hear Guy during the climb.

After allowing another smaller group to go ahead of our group, it was time to start the ascent. The first section of the walk starts off underneath the bridge and at times was a little cramped, trying to squeeze through openings with all our equipment attached to us. Every now and then Guy stopped to let everyone catch up and to tell us some interesting facts and stories about the bridge. The second stage of the climb is where it all got rather interesting. We had to go one person at a time up the really steep steps until we reached the top where guy was waiting. It was a strange feeling climbing up, I don't know about Rikki because it felt very much like "ok, you're on your own for this bit. Just keep going. One step at a time!" It wasn't that it was scary just a little nerve wracking, especially when a train goes passed, shaking the bridge around. Once at the top of the stairs and now above the bridge and cars, the incline levelled out quite nicely so the walk up to the summit of the bridge was leisurely. The view going up was excellent, the whole city was lit up and the harbour with the Opera House was so pretty to look at. We thought it would be really windy at the top but there was only a slight breeze so that was good. At the top, Guy took a group photo of everyone and he also took pictures of each of the smaller groups of people who were climbing together.

We then walked across the width of the bridge, over to the other side to start our descent. From where we were stood we could see in between the tall skyscrapers and buildings a small clock tower that is part of the GPO building. When the bridge was first built it was the tallest structure in Sydney - it's now completely dwarfed by its neighbouring buildings. But seeing that really put into perspective just how impressive the bridge is and was especially back when it first opened in 1932.

We then started our climb back down the bridge which was much the same as going up. The decline started small and then we were back to the steep staircases. One by one we all made it down to underneath the bridge and along to the climb centre where we got changed back into our normal attire. We picked up our pictures and got a cd of some of the pictures just of me and Rikki then headed back to the hostel. At which point, it started to rain. And not just spitting, fine rain but a monsoon like downpour! We got drenched running back to the train station. By the time we got our stop it looked like it had calmed down but walking through the station we could hear it thundering down on the roof. It was quite something. I haven't seen rain that heavy in a long time. We got a quick bite to eat and hightailed to the hostel to change our pyjamas and snuggle up in our cosy duvets for a good nights sleep.

More soon, Rikki and Jennie x
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