Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney harbour Bridge is the world's largest steel arch bridge, and one of Sydney's most iconic structures. The bridge is referred to as the ‘coat hanger' by most Sydney locals. It links the Sydney City Centre to the North Shore, and it has lanes for cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and trains. The southern part of the bridge is located at Dawes Point, in The Rocks, while the other end of the bridge is at Milsons Point. Although it was originally opened way back in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge still has the capacity to service the high population and the large traffic of 21st century Sydney.

The structural design of Sydney Harbour Bridge

The bridge has a very complicated structure. The arch of the bridge varies in height starting from 18 metres at its lowest points, and rising up to 57 metres at its highest points. The arch itself has a span of more than 500 metres. The bridge is made of steel that weighs more than 52 thousand tonnes. Most of the steel used to make the bridge was imported from England, and the components of the bridge were fabricated in workshops that what set up where Luna Park Sydney is currently located. At the time of its construction, megastructures of its calibre were quite rare, so hundreds of experts from Australia, England, Scotland, and Italy had to work together to design and construct it.

History of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Plans for constructing a bridge across the Sydney harbour had existed since 1815, but it wasn’t until 100 years later that those plans began to materialize. A coherent plan to construct the bridge was conceived during the First World War, but since the government had to spend most of its money on the war, those plans were stalled. The government formalized the bridge project in 1922, allowing its design and construction to commence. Although suspension bridge and cantilever bridge designs were initially considered, the engineers finally settled on the arch bridge design because it was cheaper and it was more suited for a heavy duty traffic load. Construction started in July 1923, and it ended almost 9 years later, in early 1932. The whole project cost about $13.5 million.  It wasn't until the late 1980s that the full cost of the bridge was completely paid off.

Interesting facts about Sydney Harbour Bridge

  • The bridge is held together by about 6 million metallic rivets that were hand driven.
  • Although it was constructed more than 80 years ago, it is still the world’s largest steel arch bridge.
  • The bridge is 1.15 kilometres long.
  • The 4 pylons that are located on both ends of the bridge are decorative, and they offer no structural support to the bridge.
  • The bridge increases and decreases in height by about 18 centimetres due to changes in temperature during the day and night.
  • The bridge has 8 traffic lanes, 6 on the main roadway and an additional 2 on the eastern side. It also has 2 train tracks, a pedestrian lane, and a bike lane.

Things to do at the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The bridge is an important tourist attraction, and there are plenty of things that you can do for fun at the bridge if you are visiting it for the first time. We recommend that you should go to the Pylon Lookout to see an interesting display of how the bridge was constructed. The Pylon Lookout is accessible from the pedestrian walkway on the bridge. The lookout is usually open to the public all year round, except for a few key holidays. You can also stroll along the pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the bridge and enjoy a scenic view of the Sydney Harbour. On the other side of the bridge there is a bike lane, so you can have fun cycling across the bridge with other bikers.

If you are more of a thrill seeker, you can choose to go bridge climbing. It takes a lot of guts to climb the bridge, but when you get to the top, you will be able to enjoy a stunning view of Sydney Harbour from the best possible vantage point. Bridge Climb is a service that allows tourists to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a safe way. Although you have to pay a small fee to be allowed to climb the bridge, the view from the top is worth it.

Randwick Racecource

Back to Sydney Homepage