Call it iconic, symbolic, the gateway, the most famous, distinctive, landmark or whatever, but the Sydney Harbour Bridge is really Australia’s most well-known badge of recognition. Oh yes! The locals call it ‘The Coathanger.’
When it was officially opened on 19th March 1932, an estimated crowd of between 300,000 and a million people lined the shores around the harbour to witness it.
Construction work on the Sydney Harbour Bridge began in 1924. The first suggestion to build a bridge connecting the northern and southern shores of the harbour came as far back as 1815. The suggestion was put forward by a ‘convict,’ and architect, Francis Greenway. It was only in 1900 that design submissions were invited with the approved design, by Dr. J C Bradfield, accepted in March 1924.
There is still an ongoing debate (heated at times) as to which bridge is the model for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The two contenders are the smaller Tyne Bridge in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England and the Hell Gate Bridge in New York, USA.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb: To get an absolutely stunning 360° view of Sydney and the Blue Mountains you have to take the Bridge Climb. This guided climb started in 1998 with tours, of 12 to 14 people, leaving every 10 minutes or so. The round trip takes roughly three and a half hours. There are also twilight and night tours when you can catch a fabulous sunset or the city as she lights up.
At around US$200, the price is a bit steep (pun intended).
Some Interesting Facts about Sydney Harbour Bridge
Length of arch span: 503 metres
Height of top of arch: 134 metres about mean sea level
Height of aircraft beacon: 141 metres above mean sea level
World’s Largest: It is the world’s longest single steel arch bridge
Total length of bridge: 1149 metres including approach spans
Bearing Pins: Each of the four pins measures 4.2 metres long and 368 millimetres in diameter
Number of rivets: Approximately 6 million
Largest rivet: Weighed 3.5 kilograms and was 395 millimetres long
Allowance for arch expansion: The arch may rise or fall 18 centimetres due to heating or cooling
Record tonnage erected: 589 tonnes of steelwork was erected on the arch in one day on 26th November 1929
Load Test: The Bridge was test loaded using up to 96 steam locomotives placed in various configurations
Paint required: 272,000 litres of paint were required to give the Bridge its initial three coats
Users: When it opened you could walk or ride across on a horse or in a horse carriage. Sadly, you cannot today. You can however still walk or bicycle across
Traffic: Eight vehicle lanes, two train lines, a footway and a cycleway
Flying Under The Bridge: Several sorties were flown in the 1940s, particularly in 1942 and 1943. I don’t think it is allowed anymore