When we asked the question “Would you do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb?” on our Facebook page it sparked a lively discussion.
There were a mix of answers ranging from “absolutely the experience of a lifetime,” to, “no the Harbour Bridge climb is too expensive.”
A lot of people were undecided and needed more time to think about it. And rightly so. It is a lot of money, but climbing the arches of probably the most famous bridge in the world over one of the world’s most stunning body of water, is a once in a lifetime experience.
I have written before on the topic of ‘Is budget travel all that matters?’ Sometimes we have to weigh up the budget with the experience, and, if it will create a lifelong memory, then the budget often has to have a chunk taken out of it.
We’ve blown the budget before seeing the gorillas in the wild in Uganda and weddings in Fiji and Africa. Others do it with shopping trips on Rodeo Drive or to fly by private jets charter.
On one of my recent trips to Sydney, I had the opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and to see for myself whether this was a worthwhile tourist attraction – one that was featured on the Oprah Australia series and is often on the Australia bucket list.
I would have to say I’m pretty much on the fence with this one.
I grew up just over an hour north of Sydney. As a child I frequently would go into the city on trips with my parents, walking around the Botanical Gardens and riding the ferry on the Harbour across to Manly.
As a University student, I would frequently go on harbour party cruises at night and crawl the bars in The Rocks as the Bridge lovingly guarded us.
Now as parents, we frequently take our children to enjoy all that Sydney Harbour has to offer.
I LOVE Sydney Harbour and it never ceases to amaze me with its beauty.
BUT, I also think that I am a very good friend of the Harbour. She is a familiar site to me. The first time WOW factor is not really there, nor is the idea that I have to take all of her in as I may never see her again.
My Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb Experience
I think that perhaps for this reason, I was missing that WOW factor by my climbing of the Bridge experience.
I did enjoy it, but for the price of $208, I was left feeling a little unsure as to whether it was worth it.
One thing that could have really changed my decision was the fact that you had to pay extra for your single photo at the end of the tour. You do receive a complimentary group photo but the individual one will cost you another $35…OUCH!
You cannot take your own camera equipment up, which is fair enough. The motorists below really don’t want anyone slipping and dropping their camera gear onto their windshield.
The safety measures are so tight on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, you cannot even wear clips in your hair in case they slip out and fall. Your hat and glasses are allowed but are tied down to your suit that connects you to the cable that runs all the way around the arched climb.
It was fascinating to climb through the steeled arches of the bridge and hear the stories of its construction and that of the Opera House standing opposite.
Only 16 people died during the 8-year construction that cost $13.5 million. This year marks the 80th anniversary.
Of the 2 people that fell off the Harbour Bridge, only one survived, a remarkable tale of a quick thinking Irishman who in a moment of not thinking stepped backwards off his ledge to drop 50 metres below. He realised that he needed to hit the water feet first and managed to do it during the 2-second free fall.
Those watching thought he would never rise to the surface. So shocked were they when he popped back up and swam for the nearest boat, breaking only a couple of ribs.
I found the views from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge breathtaking and I did see a side to Sydney Harbour I had not seen before.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the whole of the Harbour in one vista, having a clear view of the Government house sitting on the knoll overlooking the Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove and Kirribilli House opposite. Politicians never want for the best views and abodes in the city!
So yes, to some this view would be definitely worth it.
What if you have a fear of heights when climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
I can understand why you might choose not to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge if you have a fear of heights.
I would say that the initial climb under the roadway was the scariest part, as the path was very narrow and you were looking straight down, only a steel meshed pathway between you and the waters below.
I held onto the sides a little tight here and breathed a little deeper. Once you pop up above the road the sense of being suspended high above the ground seems to leave you. The heights did not bother me from there on end.
Should You Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
I would definitely consider making the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb experience a part of your adventures in Australia.
The Harbour Bridge is an iconic image of our Australia and the views are something to talk about.
If you are concerned about budget, consider ways in which you can reduce spending in one area for a week so you can fit it in. Perhaps camp, couch surf or stay in cheaper hostel accommodation.
Here are some places to stay in Sydney to help you.
Need further convincing?
Here are some Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb Facts:
- Over 2.75 million people have climbed the bridge
- The oldest climber to date was 100 year old Mrs Chris Muller
- Most frequent climber is an 84 year old man from Sydney (41 times)
- 4000 couples have become engaged while climbing the biridge
- On The Bridge Climb route, climbers will scale 1332 stairs.
- On The Discovery Climb, climbers will climb 1002 stairs (good for the butt!)
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb Tours and Prices
- Open to anyone over the age of 10
- The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is open 24 hours a day, 363 days a year. The earliest dawn climbs depart at 3:15am
- All climbs have different prices depending on time of day but all range between $188 and $298
- The Express Climb: 2 hours and 15 minutes
- The Discovery Climb: 3.5 hours. Explore the inner workings of the Bridge.
- The Bridge Climb: 3.5 hours. Uninterrupted views as you climb the outer arch all the way to the summit.
Some other ways to experience Sydney Harbour
- Experience Sydney Harbour by helicopter
- Sail the tall ships on Sydney Harbour
- Kayaking middle harbour
- Cockatoo Island – cheap Sydney Harbour camping
- 18 free things to do in Sydney
Plan Your Trip in Sydney
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All images courtesy of BridgeClimb Sydney