Well finally after being in Sydney now on and off for over 2 years I’ve done the Bridge Climb….but not just any old Bridge Climb….the dawn one! So the alarm went off at 3.15am to get to the climb for 4am, the most ridiculous thing was paying $295 for the pleasure of such an early start. 3.15am is the sort of time I’d normally be coming in on a Saturday morning, not heading out, however it wasn’t actually that difficult, went to bed at about 9pm so had quite a bit of sleep.
A quick scooter ride into the city and I was at the climb HQ which is a few hundred meters from the bridge under the southern approach road. Dawn climbs start between 4am and 4.30, mine was 4.15 so basically there’s 3 groups that head up for sunrise. Firstly you have to get prepped up which includes a breathalyser test (to make sure you’re not going to vomit onto the cars below or more stupidly fall off), changing into the climb suit, going through a metal detector to ensure you’re not sneaking anything up there and gearing up (including radio pack & headset, cap, handkerchief, lanyard for your sunnies, headlamp, and the most important bit, the clip to connect you to the safety rail for the journey).
There were 8 of us altogether, maximum group size is 12. We set off in the dark and the route takes you under the bridge between the pylons, you’re directly under the road deck so you can hear the cars and trains going over, at this point you’re about 50m above water level. I have to admit that was probably the slightly scariest bit because the walkway is like a metal mesh so you can see right down to the road/water below. My legs were a little bit wobbly. Then you climb a ladder which takes you between two lanes of traffic (of course this is all protected so no fear of being smacked by a lorry) and up to the start of the arch. Once you’re on the arch it all feels a lot more solid and a lot less disturbing.
It’s still pretty dark at this point but you can see the sky starting to lighten over to the east which is over the ocean. The climb to the summit is leisurely with regular long stops to take in the amazing views to the city, Opera House, Harbour, out to the ocean, and loads of Sydney in all directions. There’s a couple of photo stops on the way which, if you decide to buy them, you’ll be shafted for, but more on that later. As the sun rose the sky went from dark blue to orange, pink….etc, etc. The weather couldn’t have been any better, when we started climbing at 4am it was 20C, dry with the odd wispy cloud around. Those clouds made the sunrise even more stunning.
As we approached the summit the sky was getting lighter but the sun still hadn’t risen above the horizon, the clouds turned from pink to orange to white. We watched the city light up and the fishing boats heading out to see leaving long wakes behind them that slowly spread across the harbour. Although there’s 8 lanes of traffic and two railway lines below you it’s amazingly quiet at the top.
After the free group shot pic you slowly make your way down the western side of the bridge and eventually back to terra firma. Now having spent $295 on this you’d think you’d get your photos for free…..well you do get the group shot and a climbing certificate included. But if you want the individual shots then it’ll cost ya….$65 for four, yes I said FOUR, photos on a CD!!!! It’s an extraordinary rip off but you can’t spend $300 and not have a record of it so I swiped the card and got the pics, the best one you see here, the other three are here on Flickr (yep I’m probably gonna start putting the pics on Flickr instead of Webshots so there’s ANOTHER photo album on the web!).
I’m probably gonna do it again sometime, but not the dawn one. The tour guide said that one of the best days to do it is Australia Day coz the harbour is full of boats and there’s loads to see, so that could be a plan for 2008. Overall if you’re only gonna be in Sydney once and you got the money it’s worth doing, it’s overpriced for sure, but there’s no other way to see the city.