Not up for spending $220 on Sydney Bridge Climb? Do this instead.

By: Michael

Last year as I was planning my trip to Australia I read this interesting review by Pizza in Motion about having climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I have to admit I didn’t even know climbing the bridge was a thing, and I was immediately interested. The climb and the views looked spectacular, but when I got to the price part, it sure stopped me in my tracks. As you can see on the post comments section, Ed assured me that it was well worth the price.

The Sydney Bridge Climb website contains lots of information, including different climb options at different prices, but on average a climb to the top will set you back over $220 per person (keep in mind the prices on their site are in Australian dollars) for about 2.5 hours for the Express Climb. While I really believe Ed when he says it is well worth it, I kept finding myself unable to mentally justify the cost for 1 person (my wife was a hard No due to the height, and I have a mild fear of heights, but not enough to stop me from climbing). I kept wrestling with that decision almost until two weeks before the trip, until I accidentally ran into this TripAdvisor attraction while looking for things to do: The Pylon Lookout at Sydney Harbour Bridge. The cost: a whopping $15 Australian dollars per person (about $11.25 U.S. dollars)

Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons:

Pylon-lookoutAs you can see from this picture, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has four pylons, two on each side of the arch. Contrary to common perception, the pylons are mostly decorative and do not actually support the bridge. You can actually climb one of these pylons all the way to the top. We were staying at the Park Hyatt Sydney (shown on picture above) for 4 nights, and it just so happened that the pylon you can climb is the one that was directly behind our hotel (see photo above). This option was not only something I could get onboard with, but so did my wife.

Arriving at the base of the pylon is not as quick as it seems. The pylon entrance is actually through the bridge, and so when leaving the Park Hyatt you actually have to walk away from the pylon, climb up some stairs a few blocks away to reach the bridge, and then walk about 10 minutes to the pylon entrance.

Stairs to the bridge

Stairs to the bridge

Once you’re on the bridge, you come up behind the Park Hyatt, and from there it’s an easy stroll up to the pylon’s entrance.

Pylon-lookoutPylon-lookoutPylon-lookoutPylon-lookout

On the picture above you can see a sketch of the inside of the pylon. After climbing a couple of flights of stairs you get to the main “lobby” if you will, and then you can pay the admission fee, continue your climb, and view photographs and artifacts recounting the bridge history along the way. There are also benches for people to sit down and rest, but we didn’t need them as it is only 200 steps to the top, and you can also climb at your own pace. There is also a small movie room on the way down where you can take a break and watch a short documentary about the construction, which I highly recommend watching if you want to learn more about the construction of the bridge during the 1920’s. The construction methods are really remarkable.

Pylon-lookoutPylon-lookout

After reaching the top you are rewarded with this view:

Pylon-lookout

Here’s the view to the south and to the bridge below:

Pylon-lookoutHere is the view to the north and onto the main bridge structure:

Pylon-lookoutAs you can see, we were almost as high as the top of the bridge, but we had as good of a view, only if not the bragging rights to say we climbed the actual bridge, but hey, the pylons are part of the bridge, right?

If you look closer, you can see the people on the bridge doing the climb, about halfway up. These are the faces of the people who spent over $200. The guy in the middle doesn’t look too happy.

Pylon-lookout

One of my favorite views, believe it or not, was the view to the west, right at eye level with the second pylon. This was exactly the same view Philippe Petit was seeing as he performed his famous wire walk, featured on the documentary “Man on Wire”, walking back and forth between the two pylons in 1973. The following year he would go on to walk between the Twin Towers in New York City.

Pylon-lookout

As you can see from above, the top of the viewing platform has different lines with names of the landmarks the stretch out ahead of your field of vision, although we didn’t spend any time reading them.

We really enjoyed our climb and were glad we learned of this option, which saved us a ton of money but still allowed us to have the cool experience of seeing the city and the Opera House from a high vantage point.

So when you’re in Sydney and don’t feel like spending over $200 per person on a “once in a lifetime experience”, you can do what I like to call “The Poor Man’s Bridge Climb” and go up to the Pylon Lookout at Sydney Harbour.

Cheers mates!

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