This week, we’re looking at W for World Famous locations.
And for Friday, it’s a bit closer to home (for us, at least) and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Often called The Coathanger by locals, the Harbour Bridge is the tallest single span arch bridge in the world.
It was also the longest such bridge when it was built during the Great Depression – crossing, as it does, one of the world’s great safewater harbours – but when Europeans first arrived here, they missed it.
James Cook, who was the first European to map the coast, suggested Botany Bay to the south as a site for settlement.
But when Arthur Phillip arrived in 1788, he spotted Port Jackson, and decided this would be a better spot.
Of course, the Eora, Daruk and Tharawal people had been there long before, but that didn’t count, as far as the Europeans were concerned.
But back to the bridge … even though there’s a tunnel below the water, the Harbour Bridge still carries 160-thousand vehicles every day along with 200 trains. It’s also legally designated a stock route – so you could drove cattle across it, if you wanted .. provided its between midnight and dawn, and you have police approval.
Mind you, there are no abattoirs left anywhere near the CBD, so there’s probably not much point 🙂
It is one of Australia’s most iconic sights (and sites), and is home to the annual New Years Eve fireworks display, which means it is seen on TV screens around the world.
At its official opening a right-wing militia member, Francis De Groot, rushed forward and slashed the ribbon to prevent the leftist premier, Jack Lang from doing so.
De Groot was arrested, and fined for offensive behavior – but that was later overturned, and he successfully sued for wrongful arrest.
The bridge took 10 years to build, and cost just over £6,250,000 – which works out to around 500 million dollars, adjusted for inflation.
No wonder it took until 1988 to pay off !
Australians almost universally think the bridge is beautiful – as does travel writer Bill Bryson – who says “This is a great bridge. You can see it from every corner of the city, creeping into frame from the oddest angles, like an uncle who wants to get into every snapshot. ” … but his fellow American James Michener, wasn’t so generous, when he said “it is big, utilitarian and the symbol of Australia – but it is very ugly. No Australian will admit this.”
I love it. And the fact that this was taken from the back of a cruise ship just makes it even more beautiful 🙂
This is from the stern of the Carnival Spirit, as she was about to undertake her first voyage from an Australian port.
We sailed from Sydney out into the Tasman sea, and then circumnavigated New Zealand, where one of the ports was Auckland.
And in Auckland, there is another Harbour Bridge – which is a bit like a cut-down version. If you squint 🙂
But New Zealand has its own attractions – which we will feature under “Z for (New) Zealand” in a few weeks.