So I'm still in Sydney. Well, for blogging purposes I am. I'm in Sydney and I'm heading to the bridge... Sydney Harbour Bridge.When planning my Sydney activities I found myself faced with a dilemma, one that would define me. It would make me a member of one of two groups of travellers who have graced Sydney; those who do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and those who do not.
I fell hesitantly but undeterred into the latter group. The reason why? Money. Them (hundreds of) dollars would have bought NewMan and I sushi for a week, even in Sydney. Of course, one can argue that no amount of raw fish and rice can make up for such a once-in-a-life-time experience, but once I'd made up my mind to save the pennies I set about finding and enjoying the next best thing.The Lookout Pylon of Sydney Harbour Bridge, housed in the south east pillar, delivered ridiculously good views and fascinating history and a micro-fraction of the Bridge Climb price tag at just $11 AUD. I also got to do without the blue boiler suit and near-death experience. Climbing up the staircase quickly turned into a museum with enlarged photographs, panels of text and in one area a video all relaying the Harbour Bridge story.
After numerous failed attempts to get the funding, public support and right design the building of the Harbour Bridge we all know and most of us love began in July 1923. It took nine years to complete.
Sydneysider NewMan grew up with the Harbour Bridge always over his shoulder (almost) and when I exclaimed how smitten I was by it, even after a six year absence he didn't share my enthusiasm. In fact, quite morbidly all he wanted to know from the museum was how many people died building it. Sixteen is the answer, by the way.
There was other human cost. Many families lost their homes and businesses as they were forcibly removed and relocated from the building site. On the North Shore at Milsons Point alongside where the bridge begins with a slow gradual gradient, there is a small park featuring the names and lines of streets that disappeared because of the Harbour Bridge.Other parts of the Harbour Bridge's history are more obscure, like the pseudo cat sanctuary which occupied the top floor of the pillar when the museum was curated by cat-sympathetic Yvonne Rentoul from 1948 until 1971. I don't normally like to post photos of photos but this needed to be shared.It's also strange to note that when the idea for a bridge was first thought of, there actually wasn't that much need for it, or rather that was public opinion. Because motor transport was still in its early days people found that the regular ferries backwards and forwards sufficed. Today this is not the case. Approximately 200,000 cars drive over the bridge every day.During my time in Sydney I managed to walk, train and drive over the Harbour Bridge many times and each time I felt a strange excitement, similar to the one I got from admiring the instantly recognisable and striking view from far away. It's the same buzz I experience crossing London bridges. You know that you're going where millions of others have been, and that there is real history in the structure.I've never before considered myself one to find myself falling for a inanimate structure and I certainly hope not to make a habit out of it, but nonetheless Sydney Harbour Bridge is a special labour of love and engineering. And for that reason too I'm glad I didn't walk all over it.
Frances M. Thompson
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