The Sydney Harbour Bridge has emerged as one of the most popular attractions for tourists to the fascinating city in Australia. The historic bridge draws in thousands of visitors from around the world every day
‘Jaane kyun log pyaar karte hain?’ sang Aamir Khan as he pursued pretty Preity Zinta on the bridge in the film ‘Dil Chahta Hai.’ ‘Telephone dhun mein hasne waali,’ crooned Kamal Hassan as he danced with Manisha Koirala on the bridge in the film ‘Hindustani.’
For many Indian moviegoers, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has emerged as the symbol of love and passion, as leading actors danced on it over the years in films, wooing their women and passionately beseeching them to be their lifelong partners.
Not surprisingly, virtually all tours to Australia from India feature the Sydney Harbor Bridge as a landmark place to be visited under all circumstances. Tourists can drive in cars or go in buses, travel by train, or even walk across the length of the 1.15 km-long bridge.
Australia’s most famous – and most photographed – landmark soars about 135 m above the harbour and connects the city’s central business district with the North Shore suburb. Dubbed ‘Coathanger’ by locals (because of its arch-based design), the bridge is traversed by more than 200,000 cars every day.
The bridge has eight lanes of traffic and two rail lines.
About 5,000 cyclists pedal on the bridge every day, but they have to carry their bikes up and down 55 stairs. The New South Wales government recently decided to build a new, $35 million ramp and upgrade a second one to ease conditions for cyclists.
Of course, besides travelling in cars, buses, cycles, or walking alongside the bridge, one can also hover over the world’s tallest steel arch bridge in a helicopter or view it from a ferry below. While walking on the world-famous bridge, one can also admire the renowned Sydney Opera House, or just admire the sunset.
The iconic structure can also be climbed by tourists; BridgeClimb Sydney – set up in 1998 – enables more than three million visitors to climb halfway to the bridge summit.
Plans to construct a bridge connecting the northern and southern parts of the harbour, were first mooted in Sydney as early as 1815. But even after a century, the proposal was not accepted and the bridge failed to materialise.
It was only in 1924 that construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge began; eight years later, it was finally inaugurated.
Over the years, enterprising people have tried experiments with the bridge.
In the 1940s, for instance, a few pilots flew their aircraft under the bridge, demonstrating their flying skills.
In the early years, trams ran on the bridge; these were scrapped after authorities decided to scrap the tram system all over the city.
Fascinating Sydney is a place that should figure in your global list of cities that you need to visit at least once in your lifetime.
As actor, film producer and musician, Russel Crowe remarked: “The best things about Sydney are free: the sunshine’s free, and the harbour’s free, and the beach is free.”
The city has a six-km-long walking track that takes you across scenic beaches including the famous Bondi, Tamarama, Clovelly and Coogee. If you’re in the city in October and November, don’t forget to visit ‘Sculpture by the sea,’ the world’s largest free-to-the-public sculpture exhibition.
The two-km-long coastal walk is a sculpture park featuring over a hundred sculptures by famous artists from Australi and other parts of the world. More than half a million visitors turn up during the festival.
The Taronga zoo has more than 4,000 exotic and native species of animals including gorillas, tigers, leopards, chimpanzees, giraffes, Australian sea lions, kangaroos and koalas. It also features 60, high-rope challenges over four courses, including zip-lines, rope climbs and suspended bridges.
The Sydney Opera House, a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture in Circular Quay hosts more than 40 performances each week.
The Australian city also has many award-winning and innovative restaurants that offer a fascinating range of food and drinks.
The more adventurous can ride the ferry to Manly, renowned for surf breaks, scenic walks and laidback cafés. Tourists can also spend a night on Cockatoo Island, in the middle of Sydney Harbour, and wake up to one of the world’s greatest views.