Monday, 27 July 2015

Sydney

The realisation that my time in Australia was almost over properly hit home when I landed in Sydney from Melbourne. Sydney although not the capital is possibly the most famous city in the vast country. I stayed within the CBD or Central Business District which is where tourists wander aimlessly around in between hardened city workers dressed in designer clothes push through the crowds. There is an enormous amount of wealth in Sydney and living here I experienced it first hand. The price of living is generally higher than other cities; I learned that a stay in a hotel under the Harbour Bridge overlooking the Opera House would set you back $34,000 (almost £16,000) for a minimum stay of two nights!

On my first day I met with a friend and we took the 40 minute ferry across the harbour to Manly. This beachside suburb of Northern Sydney is a place where carefree urban sophistication comes naturally to those living in this beauty spot. We followed a path which ambles along the coast passing surfers, restaurant diners, mums pushing strollers on a morning work out and people enjoying the laid-back atmosphere in the sunshine. After we had fish and chips on the beach (such tourists!) we caught the ferry back and as it turned the final corner towards Circular Quay where we would depart, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge loomed into sight with the setting sun hovering in the background - what a sight! This iconic skyline is so much more impressive in real life and definitely worth the international attention it receives! 
 

The following day I made the walk towards the Royal Botanic Gardens where I whiled the afternoon away wandering around the different areas of horticulture and heritage, learning as I went. The garden is a place of peace and relaxation and also a hub of activity with many joggers using the route through the gardens for their daily exercise fix.  

After Id spent a few hours here, it was time to walk to the Bridge Climb office where I would start the ascent up the Harbour Bridge! A full safety briefing ensued including a body frisk and a scan in a metal detector and then it was time to get kitted out in completely unflattering all-in-one suits which everything has to be attached to - I even had to secure my glasses to a piece of rope which I can assure you was not one of my finer moments! The climb would take about three hours and so we set off across the lower trusses toward the steep enclosed staircase that would take us to the start point. The bridge is the  largest steel arch bridge in the world standing at 134m. Taking eight years to build it was officially opened in 1932 to connect north and south Sydney.

*Fun Fact: The arch can actually rise and fall about 180mm due to temperature change!*

On our way up any inhibitions about being so high above the water were completely forgotten as there was so much to see. From high rises, open parks, waterside condos, theme parks, Taronga zoo to harbours, islands and a bunch of different sized boats bobbing in the water every second was used in absorbing everything in sight. 


At certain points our leader stopped us to give us some information on the bridge and its history, or to take photos, and so after taking a steady climb we reached the top just in time to watch the sun set leaving the sky a shade of burnt orange which three dimensionally reflected off of the clouds hovering over the horizon. I couldn't stop looking at it it was that beautiful! As soon as the sun went down the city came alive as it turned into a twinkling beacon of light in amongst the silent waters that surround it. 

Crossing over from the west of the east side of the bridge, the pathway is directly over the eight lanes of traffic, the two train lines and two bike tracks that support the cities transport needs. With the lit up cars moving like ants beneath us towards and away from the concrete jungle I really got a sense of perspective with how high we were, how lucky the people passing below us are to witness these sights every day but more so, just how lucky I was that Id have the opportunity to take this climb and see an iconic city from a different viewpoint. A big thank you goes to my parents for buying this climb for me as an early birthday present, it was worth every cent!!