The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb | Is It Worth The Money?

Reaching the summit of Sydney's Harbour Bridge!

With prices starting at $200, climbing Sydney’s Harbour Bridge doesn’t come cheap.  As a traveller it’s a massive expense and not in everyone’s budget and it’s for this reason that, even though Mark and I have spent a total of 8 months in Sydney out of our 22 in Australia so far, we hadn’t done the Bridge Climb.

We’d considered it in the past; when my parents visited us in Australia we got as far as browsing the website and seeing a work colleague’s Bridge Climb pictures made us wonder if we should do it before we leave Australia in June.

We’ve been working in Sydney at an Events Company and even though $200 each is still a lot of money to us, it seems less so when we’ve been earning Australian dollars and saving up.

So when I got up on Saturday morning, the day before Easter Sunday, and found Mark on the Bridge Climb website I was thrilled, if a bit apprehensive.

Were we really going to spend all that money climbing up a bridge?

I really wanted to do the Bridge Climb; I loved the idea of being able to look back at pictures of us waving from the top, I thought it would be an amazing way to spend Easter Sunday and, with us having to leave Australia in June, it was kind of now or never.

And so, on Easter Sunday afternoon, I found myself sitting in a small room with 11 other people being breathalised. Yep, along with driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery, you can’t climb the Harbour Bridge drunk.

Inside the Harbour Bridge Climb building

Inside the Harbour Bridge Climb building

After that was out of the way we were all shuffled into another room and given some rather fetching grey jumpsuits to wear and advised to only keep our underwear on underneath.  I looked like I was about to go and fix someone’s boiler and felt like I was about to sweat every last drop of water out of my body in the suit!

Next we were given attachments for our sunglasses and hats – everything taken up on the bridge has to be attached to your suit and once again we all shuffled into the next room. This time, belts were attached around our waists and, now wearing a heavy belt with a rain jacket and a radio attached so we could hear our guide on the Bridge, we all lined in front of two sets of ladders and a walkway so we could practice what we’d be doing on the bridge.

I was knackered after one round; what the hell was I going to do on the actual Bridge? 

Collapse on a ladder and fall into oncoming traffic?

Become overcome with exhaustion and fall into the water beneath where I would be chewed up and spat out by the sharks circling underneath?

Nope; another heavy contraption was attached to our belts which meant that I’d be attached to the bridge for the entire climb.

Phew.

A few minutes later, after I’d covered my nose in the free sunscreen provided (I’ve learnt from experience that even on the most overcast of days, my face still manages to get burnt) our tour guide announced that our hour long training session had finished and we would now be climbing the bridge.

I thought I’d feel nervous; shuffling into another small room where through the stone arch attached I could see the steel trusses of the bridge, but I didn’t at all. Scott had done his best to get us all pumped about our impending climb and it had worked – any thoughts I had about writing another Facing My Fears post had vanished.

I wasn’t scared, I was excited!

We all got in line and waited for Scott to attach us to the wire that we’d be attached to for the entire time on the bridge, popped our headphones on and we were good to go.

We stepped out onto a narrow walkway, wooden planks underneath our feet. We weren’t on the arch of the bridge just yet, we were filing one behind the other underneath the road where cars were rushing across to get into the city.

Suddenly the wooden planks stopped and I found myself standing on metal mesh.  I could see the ground right beneath my feet.

Ok, now I was scared.

It’s ok, I reassured myself, you’re attached to the bridge the entire time. We squeezed through narrow gaps within the bridge’s huge structure, ducked under raw steel and rounded tight corners until we reached a set of a ladders just like the ones we’d practised on earlier and up we went, one at a time, until we found ourselves on the highest arch of the bridge.

View of the Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay

The weather was pretty miserable but brightened up later!

I could no longer see under my feet.  I wasn’t sure whether that was a relief or not.  On one hand I was glad to feel completely safe and not be able to see the traffic and water beneath my feet.  On the other hand there was a part of me that longed for that little thrill of being scared.

The arch was dotted with rivets; our guide, Scott, told us that when the bridge was being built these small, rounded metal mounds were the only things the workers had to use as steps.  Not suprisingly, 16 workers were killed during the Harbour Bridge’s 8 year construction. Luckily, steps have been built into the arch of the bridge since then so we used those to slowly climb our way to the top.

During our walk Scott’s commentary was fantastic and we not only learnt some amazing facts and stories about the bridge and its construction but he also kept us entertained with his (sometimes really bad!) jokes.

We stopped every few minutes to admire the view and have our photos taken and then before we knew it we were right at the top of the bridge; 134 metres above the water of Sydney Harbour. The views were stunning and, after listening to Scott tell us about the landmarks we could see, we were able to stand up at the top for a while and just admire our surroundings.

I could see the skycrapers of the city sprawled to my right, the harbour stretching out in front of me towards Manly and the ocean and to the left the sophisticated apartments of Kirribili.

The tree tops of the Botanic Gardens and the Domain seemed to create a canvas of green above the stone walls of the harbour and the sun, which had thankfully replaced the drizzle of rain, reflected off the water below.

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Ferry

Ten or fifteen minutes later (it grew impossible to keep track of how much time we’d spent up there!) we crossed over to the other side of the bridge via a narrow walkway where cars and trucks zoomed pass beneath us.

We started our descent, this time facing the city, and climbed down three sets of ladders into the depths of the bridge below once again squeezing through narrow gaps and climbing through holes lined with yellow safety tape.

And then all too soon the corridor we’d used to get onto the bridge earlier came into view and we were all jumping from the metal walkway onto the concrete floor of the corridor so that we could say that we’d “jumped” off the Harbour Bridge!

No cameras or phones are allowed on the bridge so, after collecting our things from the lockers provided, we went to choose our photographs.  Because we booked online we were also able to add on pictures at a discounted price and had chosen the CD option with 2 pictures on which, if bought on the day costs $35 but we got it for $30.  We also received a free printed group photograph and a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb hat.

I think it’s fair to say I won’t be wearing that in public anytime soon…..!

Overall the experience was fantastic but if I were to do it again I think I’d opt for a sunset or sunrise experience; the views were got were stunning but I know they’d be even better with the city lit up behind us or the sun rising in the sky.

Personally I think the photographs are the least value for money seeing as the price it costs them to buy a blank CD and upload 2 pictures onto it would amount to nowhere near $30 but it we wanted something to remember our Bridge Climb by and climbing it and not bringing home a picture of us on the bridge would have been disappointing.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb was definitely worth the money but if you’re going to do book a climb yourself I’d recommend booking online to get the best deal.

Was the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb worth your money?

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28 Responses to The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb | Is It Worth The Money?

  1. adventures with Ben April 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    I would say, yes it’s worth the money. I wrote a post almost a year ago with some tips. http://adventureswithben.com/adventure/sydney-harbor-bridge-climb-worth/ One of them was to take the last climb before dusk. You still get to see the sunset, but at a cheaper cost. And… The pylon lookout offers similar views if you are a budget traveler and can’t afford the true climb. http://adventureswithben.com/architecture/sydney-harbor-bridge-climb-budget-traveler/

    Great post!

    • Beverley April 30, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      Thanks Ben :-) The pylon lookout is a great idea for budget travellers!

  2. Stephanie Nicoll April 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Hi Beverley,
    I still live vicariously through all your posts after leaving Australia in January after my visa ran out.

    I did the pylon lookout climb and it was great. You get some marvelous views and you can take your own camera up to get whatever snapshots you`d like!

    I think next time I`m in Australia I will do the climb, but just to say i`ve done it and had the experience, so thanks for the tips!
    Stephanie Nicoll recently posted..The Easter Bunny Came! I must be a good girlMy Profile

    • Beverley May 1, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Hi Stephanie! We got pylon lookout tickets with the climb which we’ll do before we leave Sydney – I’ve heard the views are awesome too.

  3. Caroline Eubanks May 1, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    Agreed! I waited til the end of my trip to ensure I still had money, but there’s nothing like it! I do admit that the pictures are expensive (it was $70 for my bungy photos, but that was for as many times as I jumped 3 photos each, plus 2 videos on USB) but you can’t NOT get them, right?
    Caroline Eubanks recently posted..My Travel InspirationsMy Profile

    • Beverley May 1, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      That’s the thing with the pictures – they’re SO expensive but you kind of don’t want to come away with nothing to show for your experience. I suppose the group photo is ok but it’s printed out and not on a cd – we just thought ‘screw it’, it’s a once in a lifetime thing!

  4. Nat @ Where's My Passport May 1, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    We thought the bridge climb was worth every penny and it was one of the highlights of our trip to Sydney. It also cured my fear of walking over bridges too :). We did the last climb before the twilight walk and as we reached the top it was sunset so i would opt to do that because as we were walking down it was setting and had fully set by the time we had left.

    Yes its pricey but i would definitely do it again! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
    Nat @ Where’s My Passport recently posted..Sydney Harbour Bridge ClimbMy Profile

    • Beverley May 1, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      Nat I kind of wish we’d done the sunset climb too but I thought I’d be scared of being that high up in the dark? We enjoyed it anyway so that’s the main thing :-) Glad you enjoyed your climb and thought it was worth it!

  5. Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush May 1, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Well, I’d pay $200 just to wear those rockin’ grey bodysuits! No climb needed haha!
    Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush recently posted..5 ways we’re cutting costs while travelingMy Profile

    • Beverley May 1, 2012 at 9:51 am #

      I don’t blame you, those grey jumpsuits are SEXY!! ;-) haha

  6. Tony May 1, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    I did the climb some years ago when it wasn’t so exy. I thought it was good at the time but you’re right, for $200 you might be better saving the cash.

    I don’t think the Sydney Tower Eye is so exy for the same views and in the Shangri-La Hotel’s Blue Bar offers cocktails with a view.
    Tony recently posted..Surviving the Trans-Siberian Railway uninjuredMy Profile

    • Beverley May 1, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      I think it was just the fact that we wanted to say that we’d done it – you can get the same views from a lot of buildings nearby like you say- but I just wanted to be able to look at the bridge and say “I’ve climbed that!”

  7. Melanie H May 1, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Beverley, I was terrfied on the wooden platform but loved walking over the cars and water. Go figure that out! lol

    We watched about 5 weddings fromt he summit the day I went, it was lovely.

    Im planning to do it again in a year or two for my friends 40th birthday.

    • Beverley May 2, 2012 at 9:00 am #

      You’re doing it again Melanie? Fantastic! I don’t understand the appeal of getting married up there though – getting married in a grey jumpsuit? Not my kinda thing!

  8. Sushant May 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    This sure sounds like fun. I am gonna put this on my Bucket List. Meanwhile if you are ever in Toronto you should check out the Edge walk on ledge of the 1,800ft/356m-tall CN Tower in Canada. You are literally dangling on the edge with a couple of cables. Again cost is a factor but definitely worth it.

    • Beverley May 2, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      The Edge walk sounds amazing! If we ever get over to Canada I’ll check it out – I’m a massive scaredy-cat but trying to face my fears etc etc :-)

  9. Bobbi Lee Hitchon May 1, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Great write up! I was in debating whether or not to do it because of the price, but like you, I do think it was worth the money. It’s a really special experience to Sydney, so I say splurge on it.
    Bobbi Lee Hitchon recently posted..A video tour of New Zealand’s South IslandMy Profile

    • Beverley May 2, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      Exactly Bobbi, it is a special experience that you’ll remember forever – I know it’s expensive but sometimes you have to splurge especially if you’ve been living on a budget – it’s a treat :-)

  10. Jen May 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    I wish you’d written this 6 months ago when I was in Sydney desperately trying to decide whether or not I should do the climb – I shit out in the end but I wish I’d have gone for it. It looks amazing and I’d love to see a pic of you in your hat – Twitter yeah? Lol! I think the sheer expense of it puts so many travellers off – I get that they have to fork out for the equipment etc but I’m sure if they lowered it a little they’d have so may more people going for it! xxx
    Jen recently posted..The Scarlett Guide To… Curing A HangoverMy Profile

    • Beverley May 2, 2012 at 8:59 am #

      Yeah I’m not sure why it’s so expensive. I guess they know that it’s the biggest tourist attraction in Sydney and people are going to pay that whether they like it or not.

      p.s. I will think about your hat proposition…..;-)

  11. Rebecca May 2, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    TOTALLY WORTH IT!!! As a single traveler, I never buy the pictures on offer for activities I do, but I did for this one. Probably a once in a lifetime activity and there was no way I was missing it.

    So glad you had a great time too!!
    Rebecca recently posted..Random Weekend: Book: Lost in RoovilleMy Profile

    • Beverley May 2, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      We never buy pictures either, they’re always just so expensive but for this one we decided that it’d be worth it. Glad you enjoyed it Rebecca :-)

  12. keanna May 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Hey Beverley!
    Thanks for your write up! It is quite expensive, but I think I’m going to do it! When else will I be able to climb a bridge?

    Which climb did you do? The Discovery or the Original?

  13. Amanda May 19, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    It’s good to hear you still thought it was worth it! You often wonder about things that are so expensive… lame that you can’t take your own camera, though!

    But I have no room to talk… I have paid the same amount for bungy jumping, and even more for bungy photos! That experience, too, is totally worth it, though!
    Amanda recently posted..An Ode to San Francisco Street ArtMy Profile

  14. Phil August 9, 2013 at 4:40 am #

    Quick question. Hope you can help. My mum is due to visit Sydney next month and wants to do the bridge climb. She is worried she will struggle. She is 70, although pretty active. What do you think?

    • Beverley August 9, 2013 at 4:54 am #

      Hi Phil, thank you for your question. However I think this is something that you’d need to ask the Bridge Climb company specifically. If you contact them I’m sure they’d be able to advise you as to weather it would be appropriate for your mum.

  15. Kirsty January 1, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

    Hi Beverley,

    I love your write up on this and it has prompted me to check out some of your other posts!
    As a single traveller, I am always money conscious but as you say this is a once in a lifetime trip after all. I plan to wait till the 1 Feb so I can avoid those peak rates. I will also try and nab one of the spaces on the twilight tour, I guess you just have to check our what time the sun is setting on that particular day right?
    Kirsty recently posted..Christmas in the sunshineMy Profile

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