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Adventurers enjoy dramatic view from Sydney Harbour Bridge

  INTERACTIVE GALLERY

September 8, 2000
Web posted at: 3:11 p.m. EDT (1911 GMT)

  • Prices for climbing the bridge

    SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- With its graceful steel girders arching 440 feet over the water, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has long been a dramatic sight on the Olympic city skyline.

    Now the 68-year-old structure is suddenly one of the city's most popular attractions, drawing throngs of adventurers eager to climb to the top for an unparalleled view of Sydney and beyond.

    In 1998, after 10 years of careful planning, the city approved a program allowing guided tours to the top. Since then, more than 300,000 thrill- seekers have ascended the 1,300 steps. Some have tackled a fear of heights; a few have used the breathtaking setting for marriage proposals.

      POP QUIZ
     
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    The tours run every day, year-round, at 10-minute intervals, but the ascent doesn't come cheap. A daytime climb costs 117 Australian dollars (US$66) during the week and $142 (US$80) on weekends. Nighttime climbs cost even more, and all rates will rise during the Olympics (see table below for a full listing of prices).

    Safety precautions

    The three-hour trip begins with a Breathalyzer test to make sure BridgeClimb participants' blood alcohol level is no more than 0.05 percent.

    Climbers then are equipped with special gray suits to wear over their regular clothes, to avoid distracting drivers below, along with harnesses with safety latches that attach to lines on the bridge.

    Photography fans eager to capture the dramatic views on film may be disappointed to learn that climbers aren't allowed to take anything onto the bridge, including cameras. Personal belongings can be stored in lockers at the base.

    After a stop at a simulator to practice using the safety latches, it's time to go. Groups first are led along a catwalk under the bridge, and then it's time for the ascent. An amazing view of the harbor and the Sydney Opera House awaits climbers moving up the steep ladders -- if they can take their eyes off the steps.

    The remaining trip is as easy as climbing stairs, which originally were built for workers who maintain the bridge. Finally, at the top, climb leaders (who are allowed cameras) photograph triumphant groups, followed by a round of celebratory cheers.

    "Absolutely fantastic," one elated participant exclaims. "I've climbed my bridge."

    Prices for climbing the bridge
      Weekday Weekend During Olympics
    Day AU$117 (US$66) AU$142 (US$80) AU$150 (US$85)
    Night AU$142 (US$80) AU$164 (US$93) AU$170 (US$96)
     


    RELATED STORIES:
    As countdown to Olympics continues, Sydney is primed to party
    August 20, 2000
    Sydney Opera House: Celebrating the arts and architecture
    July 9, 1999
    Sydney: Lowdown on the landmarks
    June 25, 1999

    RELATED SITES:
    BridgeClimb
    City of Sydney: Sydney Harbour Bridge
    U.S. Consular Information Sheet: Australia
    CDC Travelers' Health: Australia and the South Pacific


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