Sydney Harbour Bridge – Australia (05.01.14)
I am writing this blog on the plane having just left Sydney after a memorable three week trip through Australia’s states of South Australia (SA), Victoria and New South Wales (NSW).
I am sad to be leaving one of my favourite Southern Hemisphere destinations, with its never-ending beaches, mountains, wilderness and big horizon farmland inhabited by a people whose default-mode is as engaging and friendly as any on the planet.
Despite first visiting Australia thirty years ago, and knowing that the country has been constantly popular with Nomadic Thoughts clients over the past decades, I have been surprisingly wowed at almost every turn. Even when re-visiting old haunts, as well as a number of old friends, the sheer beauty of this land takes one’s breath away.
I have also been impressed by the SA, Victoria and NSW tourist offices’ promotions as family holiday destinations. The capital cities of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney complement the enormous variety of coastal landscapes, from the peninsular beaches off Adelaide in SA, to the Skeleton Coast drama of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. Similarly the magnificent setting of Sydney, and its glorious harbour, is perfect as a family holiday destination, and as a backpacker’s stomping ground.
Indeed as Sydney disappears from my aircraft window view I am left believing that it remains one of the world’s most beautiful cities both to visit and to live in, with its idyllic coastal surf spots, stunning harbour beaches, sandy coves and lush bays. My children have voted Sydney their favourite Australian city, having enjoyed a blast of everything – from the northern beaches between Manly and Palm Beach, to shore-side eastern suburbs and a swathe of northern, southern, eastern and western harbour regions.
The iconic steel arch Harbour Bridge stands out as the most endearing feature of this water-based city. Fondly referred to by locals as the ‘Coathanger’, it stands a proud 134 meters above the harbour, with an overbearing posture from whichever angle you view it. A landmark I have fully appreciated over the last week gazing up, down and across at it from many a Sydney vantage point. Whether sailing under, flying above, walking over or viewing from any far off inner-harbour location, it continues to mesmerise any and all.
No two views of, or from, the Bridge appear the same. The glistening water below, accentuated by the sailing ship design of Sydney Opera House, sparkles as bright sunlight is punctuated by busy inner-city ferries, leaning sail boats, cruise liners and the odd super tanker. Whatever the weather – sunshine, moonlight, drizzle or rain – it remains dramatic and compelling.
I hope that the montage of photographs in this blog – all of which I took over the last ten days – give you a feeling of how different, diverse and impressive Sydney Harbour Bridge is. For example, whilst obviously the New Year’s fireworks shots (taken from Vauclause) show the ‘Coathanger’ in all its glory – as published across the world’s New Year front pages – I also hope the sense of wonder at its very engineering is evident from a simple photograph taken from our vehicle window as we crossed the bridge en route to the First Day of the 5th Ashes Test match, at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Historically the Bridge is at a landmark, as it was two hundred years ago that J.J.C. Bradfield (known as the ‘father of the bridge’) was first appointed “Chief Engineer of Sydney Harbour Bridge & Metropolitan Railway Construction”. Although WW1 delayed its building, Bradfield prepared a general single-arch design, along the lines of New York’s Hell Gate Bridge, in 1921. Built by 1,400 men, over eight years, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, made from 53,000 tonnes of steel and held together by six million rivets, opened in 1932.
Times have moved on since: the original crossing for a horse and rider cost three pence, a car six pence. In 1932 records show that 11,000 people would cross the Bridge daily. Today there are over 160,000 vehicles crossing in a 24 hour period. In addition, today there are many different visitor opportunities with Sydney Harbour views to match. For example, since 1998 one can enjoy a Bridge Climb to the top, or Pylon Lookout from the southern eastern end. Equally the simple footpath walk across to the middle is impressive enough.
Whatever your location, circumstance or elevation, the ‘Coathanger’ will not fail to impress. Whether illuminated by 500,000 New Year’s Eve fireworks from 400 firing locations, covering 30 miles (48kms) of seafront, or appearing round the Sydney Harbour Heads from an inner-harbour ferry, it will stand loud & proud as one of your most memorable city sights, anywhere in the world.