Sydney is jam-packed with family-friendly sights and activities. Days are easily filled splashing at Bondi Beach or visiting the Sydney Opera House and the sparkling harbor it calls home. But for families with a flair for adventure, the trek to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a must-do, with 360-degree views of the city skyline. A few insider tips will help you get the most out of your high climbing experience.
Children must be 8 years old and nearly 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Safety is a top priority. Children age 8 to 15 must be accompanied by an adult. There is a maximum of three kids per adult.
There are a number of different BridgeClimbs, with departure times ranging from dawn through the evening, but the time needed to prepare and journey to the bridge summit and back takes about 3.5 hours. That’s a long stretch, particularly for elementary-age kids. Make sure everyone has eaten and is well-hydrated. Climbers are given a breathalyzer test, and must have a blood alcohol level below .05% to make the trip.
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Free lockers are provided to store your belongings, but it’s essential to understand that next to nothing is allowed to come with you during the climb — no phones, cameras or even watches. To prevent anything from falling from the bridge, loose objects are prohibited. All climbers pass through a metal detector before being fitting with a safety harness.
Sunglasses are allowed, but climbers are given a cord to fasten them to their head plus a baseball cap that is also securely attached. Earrings are best left in your locker or not worn at all, so they don’t interfere with the fit of the headsets worn during the climb. Well attached (notice a theme?), the headsets make it easy to hear the fun stories and historical tidbits shared by your guide.
Wear good shoes, like sneakers or hiking shoes, and comfortable clothes. BridgeClimb provides the rest. Everyone will be given a jumpsuit to wear. You can wear the jumpsuit over your clothes, but if it’s hot, climbers can also choose to undress to their skivvies and wear the jumpsuit only. Depending on the weather, guides will equip you with anything else you might need, like gloves, fleeces or rain ponchos.
Getting ready to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge is similar in some respects to the gearing up required before going ziplining. Harnesses are fit properly (a safety line attaches climbers to the bridge at all times) and there’s a series of indoor practice staircases to prepare for the terrain ahead and help ease any anxiety.
It’s a 1,332-step journey to the top, nearly 440 feet (134 meters) above Sydney’s Harbour. Time goes by fast. The ladderlike staircases are the most physically challenging, but the indoor practice session does a great job of getting climbers of all ages prepared. Tour guides take frequent breaks to point out landmarks, take pictures and answer questions.
For anyone feeling apprehensive: I felt as though the first 10 minutes or so, when you first step out and walk on the lower, under section of the bridge, was the most psychologically challenging stretch. Once you climb higher and start taking in all the scenery, a certain “wow” feeling takes over. But as with any activity, know your kids and their comfort zone.
Editor’s Note: Dana’s climb was hosted by BridgeClimb Sydney. As always, our thoughts and opinions are her own on Ciao Bambino. Photo courtesy of BridgeClimb Sydney.
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