Up early as we’re off to climb the Harbour Bridge. we’d ummed and arred about it for ages and at one point counted out but everyone we’ve spoken to before we got here and since has said we should do it. so we thought in for a cent in for a dollar – lots of them.
The setup was bigger than we expected with a whole arrival and preparation procedure that slowly sucked you in. you start off by signing your life away and having a breathalyser test then having removed all of your personal items, earings, watches, phones cameras, money you’re gien your ghostbuster suit, THEN you go through a metal detector as a final check, no explosives boy on this one tho.
Next you’re kitted out and turned in to a pack horse, you’re given a large belt to wear that has your harness link on it and to that they add a fleece and raincoat in two bags, then you’re given a hat to put on top of your free baseball cap, as well as a hanky on elastic, gloves and a radio with headset, all this clips on to you either on the belt or various clips on your suit. this is of course for your comfort and safety and nothing to do with the fact that they are taking you out no matter what the weather and there is no way on this planet you are getting a refund. no it’s for your safety sir.
you do a dummy ladder run so that you know the routine for up and down and can see how your safety clip fastens to the cable that runs all the way round the bridge. the clip holding you on costs $600 each – he’s trying to add value to my tour isnt he.
then you’re taken through a tunnel on to the bridge, the tunnel cost $300,000 – ooh look more value. and then you’re launched on to two planks of wood on a thin walkway and expected to traverse this with an arse the size of a bus and a bloody safety harness wire that keeps getting stuck so you’re suddenly jerked backwards and sideways whilst 50ft above the road below. THEN you have to walk across mesh grid things and the ground is getting further away and you have duck under things whilst still standing on a surface only 2ft wide, its not fun i can tell you.
eventually you start climbing ladders and pass the road platform and now you’re over water which you can see far far below you through the rungs nd mesh of the ladder, then your harness sticks again and jerks you sideways. All the while clever Irish doctor woman is zooming ahead with the scottish bloke and not even holding on and even Wendy from Seattle with the enormous hair who didnt even want to come on the climb is bombing along, and i’m gripping on for grim death. And then keep going until eventually you hit the bottom of the big arch. this is where it gets easy, you’re stood on solid metal and are climbing a set of stairs up the middle of the outside of the eastern arch. All the while your leader is telling you facts and figures on the bridge, who died, who survived, who lost limbs, costs of the bridge and costs involved in setting up the bridge climb company, more value added! every now and then he stops you to take photos of you with your thumbs up looking americanly cheery (the yanks whooped at each photo – i just wanted a sit down and a cup of tea) these are all extra cost photos at up to $80 for a set of them.
once you get to the top you get your only free photo which you can see here. the others i’ve stolen from the bridgeclimb site. at this point you can also see the other groups of climbers who are part way up or down in little groups of 12. a trip sets off every 10 minutes. well i could finally see them as i was finally able to look around, it’s blinking high up there and a bit windy but you do get an excellent view for miles around in every direction and it is well worth the bother. when you get to the top they do mention the lift which some celebs have taken. why wasnt i offered the lift?
the walk back down is on the western arch and is exactly the same as the climb but in reverse and mightily releaved to get back i was too.
so how much did this climb cost us? well in 1999 it was $24. not a bad price. today the original climb along the outside, not the two other they now also offer along different routes, costs FROM $208 each. with a trip setting off every 10 minutes with up to 14 people in that is $17,472 per hour minimum. i need to find myself a bridge. Hulme Arch?