"Ladies and gentlemen. This is the Captain speaking. Look to your right and you will see the mighty Sydney Harbour Bridge in all its glory. Enjoy your flight ... with the 'flying kangaroo' ... the spirit of Australia'
SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE
Well, I guess that's exactly what the captain would have said as he flew across Sydney harbour. Today I introduce another amazing structure in the world. It's a bridge crudely nicknamed the 'coat hangar'. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on March 19th 1932 by Premier Jack Lang, after six years of construction. Made of steel the bridge contains 6 million hand driven rivets. The surface area that requires painting is equal to about the surface area of 60 sports fields. The Bridge has huge hinges to absorb the expansion caused by the hot Sydney sun. You will see them on either side of the bridge at the footings of the Pylons.
You can have a close hand look while you are in Sydney by visiting the South Eastern Pylon. It is a walking trip and recommended for the fit only. It is a longish walk to get to the base of the Pylon and then there are 200 steps to the top.
The views and photo opportunities are fantastic. (If you can make it, we've got to say it is tough). There is a great display on how the thing was built. It has a similar place in Sydney history to the Statue of Liberty in New York as far as many migrants to Australia go. In sight of the bridge you knew you had made it.
The displaced peoples of Europe who came to Australia in the days of the grand ships can get very misty when you ask them what they felt when they saw this grand old arch on their arrival in Sydney from the aftermath of World War Two as they sailed up Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). The old Bridge has been replaced as "the" landmark of Sydney by the bold architecture of the Opera House.
But a grand old bridge it is, and one you will remember whenever you think of Sydney after your visit.
When it opened it cost a car six pence to cross. A horse and rider was 3 pence. These days a return trip (for some reason the only kind) costs two dollars twenty (gst). Horses and riders are banned, that's the changing times. You can walk across free and you are allowed to bicycle in a special lane.
Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world's largest (but not longest as that's the New River Gorge in the USA) steel arch bridge, and, in its beautiful harbour location, has become a renowned international symbol of Australia.
Its total length including approach spans is 1149 metres and its arch span is 503 metres. The top of the arch is 134 metres above sea level and the clearance for shipping under the deck is a spacious 49 metres. The total steelwork weighs 52,800 tonnes, including 39,000 tonnes in the arch. The 49 metre wide deck makes Sydney Harbour Bridge the widest Longspan Bridge in the world.
The cranes had played a very important part in both the construction and ongoing maintenance of the bridge. During construction of the main arch between 1929 and 1931, two huge creeper cranes moved outwards, laying their tracks as they progressed. Behind them moved the four maintenance cranes, used initially by the riveting and painting gangs until they had to be dismantled to allow the creeper cranes to pass by and be removed in pieces near the pylons. The maintenance cranes were then re-erected on the arch and remained in service until their removal in 1997.
Annual average daily traffic has since grown to:
1950 32,000 vehs/day
2001 159,597 vehs/day
(NB: Harbour Tunnel opened 31st August 1992)
Now, here is a slide video that will show you the bridge's construction in some detail:
Clancy's comment: I take my hat off to the engineers who create such constructions. By the way, Paul Hogan of 'Crocodile Dundee' fame, was a painter on this bridge before he became famous.