The Sydney Harbour Bridge officially opened on March 19, 1932. The magnificent engineering feat captured the attention of the world and alerted the world to the natural beauty of Sydney Harbour.
Construction began in 1924 and it took 1400 men eight years to complete. It is 134 metres from top to bottom, and at 40 metres across is the widest single-span bridge in the world. Its arch measures 503 metres and weighs 39,000 tonnes. Temperature changes create a rise and fall of 180 millimetres.
In 1930 the two halves of the arch were joined and gave a much-needed lift to a city in a time of depression.
The bridge's four pylons are purely for aesthetics. They are constructed of concrete covered by grey granite from Moruya and rise 90 metres above average water level. Twenty percent of the steel used was manufactured in Australia, the rest coming from England. It is all held together by around six million steel rivets, and it takes 30,000 litres of paint for just one coat.
In 1932, average daily traffic was around 11,000 vehicles. Now 160,000 vehicles cross every day. There are eight traffic lanes and two railway lines. One of the eastern lanes is a dedicated bus lane. There is a pedestrian pathway on the eastern side and a cycleway on the western side of the bridge.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge's 75th Anniversary will be celebrated on March 18, 2007. It will be a day of national significance for one of the world's best-known landmarks. An official ceremony will commence with a bridge walk involving schools from across NSW, the descendents of families connected to the bridge and current workers. Flyovers will fill the sky and boat owners are encouraged to join the celebrations.
A major exhibition at the Museum of Sydney will run until the end of April 2007. It brings together dramatic photographs and paintings with rare and previously unseen alternative bridge and tunnel proposals, as well as plans and sketches in celebration of the much-loved icon.
BridgeClimb began in 1998 and since then two million people have indulged in a day, twilight or night climb. They climb 1439 stairs and are rewarded with 360° views across the city, its harbour and beyond. It takes around three and a half hours to complete, and climbers receive a commemorative certificate and photograph.
BridgeClimb has introduced a new adventure Discovery Climb. Most things remain the same; the clothing that blends into the colour of the bridge, the total commitment to safety and, of course, the views, but there the similarities end.
Rather than climbing the arch, the new experience takes you inside the working of the bridge; into its very heart for a behind-the-scenes look. You will climb through the bridge and be able to touch raw steel and rivets and climb the stairs and catwalks not previous open to the public. It takes you winding through a tangle of hatchways and steel girders suspended above the traffic.
You will see where the arch was joined in 1930, and access walkways, previously used only by maintenance workers.
BridgeClimb, day or night, Monday to Friday costs $169 (adults) and $100 (children). It costs $189 and $125 on weekends. TwilightClimb costs $249 (adults) and $185 (children) from Monday to Friday and $295 and $195 on weekends.