Yes, it's expensive. Yes, you have to wear an unflattering grey jumpsuit. But the smiling faces of celebrities in the BridgeClimb lobby are a clue that climbing the fourth-longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world offers more than an overpriced history lesson. Nicole Kidman, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake... even the cast of Glee has done it and they all seemed to loveit.
Each of the three climbs - Discovery Climb, Bridge Climb (210 minutes each) and the Express Climb (135 mins) - begins with a breath test and the signing of a disclaimer. Then you have to remove your clothes, put them in a locker and don official BridgeClimb gear. Climbers (sorry - no kids under ten or under 1.2m tall) fasten onto the Bridge with a belt and slider clip, which hooks into a wire to keep you safe as you move among the beams. A radio headset allows you to hear your guide's voice over the wind and traffic noise. In about 45 minutes you're standing with your group on the lead-in beams about to enter a giant maze of steel.
The climb isn't as arduous or scary as you'd think: much of it is just like climbing a staircase, and there are plenty of stops on the way as the guide offers fascinating insights into the building of the bridge. Did you know one of the jobs back in construction days was the ‘Catcher', who would balance on a two-foot wide beam sans safety harness and catch steel rivets tossed to him from another worker 80 feet away? Stats are interesting too (eg, 4,000 couples have become engaged while climbing the Bridge).
Views are, of course, exhilarating. It's hard to appreciate the ‘City of Villages' as a cohesive single unit until you've stood on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The silhouette of the Blue Mountains frames the West and the Pacific Ocean opens up the East. In every direction, you see Sydney in all its glory. Why should tourists be the only ones to experience this? Suzanna Lourie