Connecting the city’s CBD and North Shore districts over the waters of Port Jackson, the Sydney Harbour Bridge looms high next to the whitewashed Opera House and the quaysides of the famous Rocks. It’s one of the iconic landmarks in the downtown area of Sydney, representing perhaps the most ambitious Australian civil engineering project of the post-World War I era and a symbol of the power and advancement of the onetime colony as it gained independence from the United Kingdom.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is arguably the single most commanding monument in the entire New South Wales capital. Visitors come to wonder at the great 134-meter-high arch of steel that forms the central crux of the bridge - the largest of its kind in the world - while others will pass along the Bradfield Highway that runs over the bridge itself, joining the 200,000 vehicles that now do so each day. However, the Harbour Bridge isn’t just a wonder of engineering; it’s an attraction in its own right. The famous South Pylon houses 200 stairs that offer access to one fantastic panoramic viewing platform. On the way up, visitors enjoy three levels of exhibits, including the ‘Dangerous Work’ collection (showcasing the treacherous pitfalls of constructing such a bridge in the 1920s) and countless photographic and audio visual pieces that chronicle the bridge’s history besides. And for the adrenaline buffs the Bridge Climb awaits, which sees travelers strap onto the steel arches of the structure itself and climb to the very top, enjoying an historical tour and sweeping views of Port Jackson as they go. Others opt for guided kayak tours, ferry rides, or sunset sailing trips in the waters below the bridge in the evening.
Situated right in the heart of the city, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is easily accessible from both the CBD and Millers Point by foot. The bridge itself supports the Cahill Expressway and Bradfield Highway, which are both toll roads, while the closest direct access is on Lower Fort Street. A series of commercial car parks is available in the nearby Rocks area. Those looking to see the bridge by boat should get a ferry from Circular Quay, Luna Park or McMahons Point.
This breathtaking landmark represents more than 80 years of Sydney history. Completed in 1932, it contains as many as six million hand-driven rivets, spans more than 500 meters across the harbour, and requires 272,000 litres of paint to be completely covered. Built under the direction of Australian-born Dr John Bradfield, planning and construction took 18 years in all and was known for its innovative use of creeper cranes to connect the two facing sections of the bridge.