Bridge Climbers

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some years ago DH had made a pilgrimage to Sydney Australia in order to participate in the World Police and Fire Games but, given the extraordinary volumes of beer that was apparently part of the championship diet of the Metro Toronto Police contingent, her memories of Sydney are shrouded in fog.  She was going to take on the tour guide responsibilities but after stumbling through a number of pubs in the Kings Cross area, it was time to hit the Tourist Info booth to put together a non-alcoholic list of things to do in Sydney. At the top of that list was a harbour tour (for the tame) and the famous Sydney Bridge climb (for the not-so-tame).

Being the romantic one in the relationship I was nominating the meandering boat cruise but unfortunately DH had already painted herself into something of a corner by telling anyone and everyone who would listen, that our main objective in visiting Sydney was to climb the harbour bridge- this bridge is 135 metres above the average water level (during construction, only 1 individual who fell to the water below survived) and you have to climb along the outer curvature to reach the highest point. Of the two of us, I was the first to experience any fear, and that was just at the ticket counter when we found out it was $225 per person to do the climb (the initial toll charged for a car was 6 pence while a horse and rider was charged 3 pence)!! With a dismissive hand wave, I was instructed to "pay the man", but it was shortly after our safety briefing that DH confessed to wobbly legs, and about halfway up the initial ladder climb, I was asked to pledge that we would never do anything like this again (a pledge she has forced before only to quickly forget it once we're back on Terra Firma). Unlike the Auckland Tower in New Zealand, the Aussies had the decency to install rails which took the nervousness factor down a couple of notches but the high winds on the day we were climbing took it back up a couple of notches. Once you're out on the top of the bridge span I found it was a reasonably comfortable climb- even DH seemed ok although her death grip on the railing was tight enough to strip the paint in areas. We had to stop in spots for photos and stories but I think the real intent was to get us thinking about just how high up you were with just a thin cable attaching you to the bridge. You have to be high if the Carnival Spirit cruise ship looks tiny down below you!! Great way to see all of Sydney.Today the Harbour Bridge (known locally as the 'coat hanger') ranks second or third in the world in terms of span but it is still considered to be the greatest of its type in the world because of its load bearing capacity and width of nearly 50 metres.

One of the other must-dos in Sydney is Bondi Beach. Bondi Beach, one of the most famous city beaches in the world, was a something of a crime scene for DH when she was last here- taking the party to the beach she went topless just as the Aussie lifeguard crew was doing their drills nearby. She does claim that all the other girls were doing it and that Carol C bullied her into doing it, but I'm not totally convinced she ever left the bar district in Kings Cross. On the day we were there, it was a bit cool, and no one else was participating, so there was no re-enactment of this distant potentially false memory- we did do the coastal walk which connected Bondi with Coogee Beach and in addition to the scenery, groups were setting up some very cool art installations along the walkway.

Our hostel in Kirribilli had us taking a ferry each day that skimmed by the world famous Sydney Opera House (after seeing numerous pictures we were surprised to find that the Opera House sails aren't really white). The design of this iconic building was beyond the capabilities of engineering of the time but after a couple of years reworking the design and solving the problem of how to build the distinguishing feature, the 'sails' of the roof, were erected. As with most government projects cost blow-outs were the norm but it does scream 'Sydney'

Following DH as she retraced her steps in Sydney we found ourselves in The Rocks, a trendy shopping and eating area that was a nineteenth century slum area that was frequented by visiting sailors and prostitutes. And we wandered the Kings Cross neighbourhood, an area that is now known as Sydney's red-light district, and is reputed to be home to organised crime groups- it seemed to be dominated by bars, restaurants, nightclubs, strip clubs and adult stores but party animals that we are, we spent far too much time in an Olde English Candy Store getting salted licorice for the princess. We even spent some time on the docks trying to find a seedy bar that was at the end of a pier that apparently hosted some memorable events for DH and friends (the whole section has been redeveloped and Russell Crowe owns a townhouse that sits where the bar used to be).

Most of Sydney is actually very modern and clean but DH couldn't recall spending much time outside of the more colourful city areas so we wrapped up the trip down memory lane and started prepping for an audience with a Olympic gold medalist.
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Carol C on

I want to clear up one point, at NO time did I bullied DH into going topless! I only told her that "When in Rome...", so it was a must. She did however leave me on the beach for all too see, even by our own force members. Yes left me asleep in all my glory and went for a walk!

Terry Wilson on

Hey Deb

Why hold back...forget Bondi, you should have bared it all on top of the harbour bridge...By the way, the coloquial term is ''white pointers'' !!
Sorry to miss you guys T

Elaine & Doug on

Wonderful commentary and excellent photography, as usual.

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