Most of my travel life is spent shunning the “touristy” experiences to try to dive deeper into a culture, but occasionally, you must give in and embrace what the masses are doing. Case in point—the Sydney Bridge Climb.
When planning our Australian adventure, we polled the kiddos to see what they wanted to do in Sydney. Ferry rides were in, Opera House tours were out. Botanic Gardens? A maybe. When surfing through ideas, we came across the Sydney Bridge Climb. My older daughter’s eyes lit up—she’s a slight daredevil so I did some digging. When we decided to try the Sydney Bridge Climb with kids, I had low expectations. Spoiler alert: it was 95% fabulous.
The bridge itself is lovely and fits right in with the harbor. The bridge opened in 1932 to connect the Sydney central business district and the North Shore. From the bridge you get a feel for the city and get a spectacular view of the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Bridge Climb with Kids Review
From the website, it appeared the kids would get a basic knowledge of the Sydney layout and a bit of bridge building 101, so I signed on…
Or, I should say I tried to sign on. In fact, three times. I tried to buy tickets both on my mobile phone and laptop from the states to only have the site crash after entering all my personal info (and credit card #). I tried to get a press pass (that didn’t work either). In the end, I gave up on pre-booking and thought I’d make an attempt once we landed in Sydney.
As it turns out, the tickets were easy to book once I was in Sydney. The servers worked fine and I purchased three same-day tickets for the Express Tour—all in about $640 Australian.
The Bridge Climb base was a short walk from our hotel, the Royal Automobile Club (which I would NOT recommend for families, it's stuffy and needs a remodel). We headed over on a crisp clear day and were pleased to find no line at the entry and a very easy registration process. Since we were a bit early, we hung out in the lobby and made use of the free WIFI and the phone charging stations.
Gearing up for the Sydney Bridge Climb with Kids
At 12:30 we went up to our orientation. Everything is extremely streamlined. I never doubted the safety of the climb, because everything’s was so well planned and thought out. Here’s how it works:
- Fill out some forms signing away liability (standard)
- Take a breathalyzer (no drunks on the bridge please)
- Get sized up for a bridge suit (to protect your clothing and make the climb safer
- Grab your accessories (leashes for your glasses, rain gear, coats and hats are all issued, if needed)—everything needs to be tethered to your suit.
- Grab your harness (you’ll be affixed to safety cables throughout the climb)
- Slip on your headsets (you guide will be able to communicate via headset—it gets noisy on the bridge)
Off you go!
What do you wear for the Sydney Bridge Climb with Kids?
No, you don’t have to undress, the suit goes OVER your clothes. But don’t wear a skirt or dress! No high heels or flip flops, wear sneakers. If you make a bad footwear decision, they do have sneakers on loan.
On the Bridge
Our guide, Max gave us clear, concise instructions to get us outfitted and off on the bridge in a safe and expedient manner. We started off under the bridge and slowly started rising over a series of steps, inclines and a few ladders. The pace was more than manageable for my girls 9 and 11. The only safety issue is overhead beams. I clonked my head once when I failed to duck under a beam (it was very well marked with a yellow pool noodle—but I was watching my footing and didn’t look up—thankfully the foam noodle protected my noggin from injury).
As we were climbing, Max started extolling his deep knowledge of the bridge. We heard about the design of the steel through arch bridge and the 6 million rivets involved in the process. Wikipedia fun fact: It is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge.
Max pointed out there were men who gave their lives in the process of bulling the bridge and that the pay amounted to about 20 cents a day.
Along the way, we’d stop to take in the views along the harbor. Max proved to be part historian and part tour guide. He had a cheery demeanor and he shared that there are 120 guides—it’s a pretty plum job in the tourism industry.
Time Commitment: Our express tour took us to the top and back in about 2.5 hours. This included the orientation in the main building.
For a longer climb (more ladders involved and more time on the top of the bridge) you can do the full tour for 3.5 hours. For a shorter climb, try the sampler, 1.5 hours.BridgeClimb
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Of course you are going to shell out for the photos. You can't bring a camera along with you, so be prepared to pay for memories of your trip. Don't worry, it's worth it.
Kid Reviews of the Bridge Climb
The bridge climb was awesome. Our guide Max gave us a great tour of the bridge. I loved how at the top we got to see the whole city of Sydney from one spot. The reason why I liked it so much was because you knew that you were harnessed in safely, but you still felt a fun feeling in your stomach. One of my favorite parts was when we did the cat walk. The catwalk is when you are walking on this metal mesh, where you can see the river below but you know that the platform is sturdy and that you will not fall.
One thing that I really think is nice about the bridge climb is that the employees must help with the bridge maintenance so they keep it in shape.
Really fun if you are NOT afraid of heights. There was an easy cat-track then a bit of a climb. The tour guide was full of facts and humor!
Are you ready for the Sydney Bridge Climb with Kids? Have you tried this climb?
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