The Localist

A bridge climb to the top

It’s 5pm on a warm winter afternoon during Sydney’s Vivid Festival and I am about to do it for the first time. I decided a few years ago that I wanted to do it, but it took me a while to find an accomplice, and more importantly, the courage.

But the time had come. I was finally ready to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

When I initially broke the news to my parents about my desire to do this about a year ago they both broke out laughing.

“You, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge? That’s crazy!”

I must admit, they voiced exactly what I was secretly thinking.

A few months ago I decided to take the plunge. And in order to make the experience even more special, I decided I wouldn’t simply climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I would climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Sydney Vivid Light Festival.

Game on.

Weeks in advance, I book the ‘twilight’ climb on the weekend of my birthday. When the day finally comes, my friend and I are both beaming with excitement. Upon arrival at BridgeClimb, we change from our clothes into the iconic blue and grey boiler suit with the oversized jock strap – it’s not exactly the trendiest thing to wear, but who’s going to see my outfit up there anyway?

Soon we are outside. The sun has just set over the beautiful picturesque harbour and the sky is glowing a fiery orange. Now it would be a lie if I said I hadn’t planned this because in all honesty I tried to plan every single detail associated with this day. I made sure that by booking the twilight climb I was going to be on the bridge to see the sun set and also see the Vivid lights turn on. A 2-in-1 experience!

Once the sun sets, we all move cautiously in the dark, squeezing up between cars driving along on lane 6 and 7 and passing through commuter trains. Never before have I been so close to a fast-moving train.

As we ascend towards the top, our climb leader tells us to turn on our flashy vests to get into the spirit of Vivid. Suddenly, the bulbs on our fluorescent waistcoats are pulsing like a light show at a rave.

From that vantage point at night, Sydney is spectacular. A blur of colours everywhere, arrowing skyscrapers split by twinkling rivers of traffic, beetling ferries and one remarkable harbour-side confection of intersecting sails.

We wait at the top of the Bridge for 6pm to hit and the Vivid lights to turn on. What a sight! The Opera House is shining rays of light into the night sky.  One minute it’s covered in snake skin, the next a train is driving across it.  One moment a large group of fish glides across a reef, the next it is a dissolving brick wall.

Standing there above the world I feel so high. The earth is moving beneath my feet but I feel safe, enveloped in darkness. It is just me, my thoughts and a beautiful view. I’ve reached the pinnacle of my objective, and I’m smiling from ear to ear.

It takes 3½ hours and 1332 steps, but I finally make it to the top, communing with a 1932-vintage coat hanger, comprising 52,800 tonnes of steel and 6 million rivets. I haven’t felt this happy in a very long time.

More information on the BridgeClimb can be found here:




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