Medi 2004 September

Sydney Bridge

Crossing The Bridge

Most of us cross the bridge over the Dee several times every week without even thinking about it. To us it is just a means of getting from one side of the valley to the other without getting our feet wet.

Not all bridges are the same though, as we have found out on our visit to Sydney. Our Australian cousins’ approach to crossing the river from one side to the other is slightly different to ours but we decided to try it out anyway after first taking a ferry around the harbour to see what was involved. And, yes, for our younger readers, Carrog did once have a ferry , although this was some years ago.

We could have driven across, but thought that instead we would climb the bridge in company with lots of other tourists just to compare the experience with crossing our own bridge.

We had to book (and pay!) in advance and arrive at a specific time where, in groups of ten, we awaited our turn to cross in a small anteroom.

Crossing our Dee bridge does not require any particular safety training, apart from hoping that car driving strangers will allow us sufficient time to scuttle into the ‘refuges’, and remembering not to lean too far over the low parapet which does not have a safety rail. Sydney Harbour Bridge is another matter!

Apart from being questioned about our health and fitness, we were next breathalysed (at 2.00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon!). This was followed by having to empty all our pockets before being issued and zipped into what appeared to be large grey ‘Baby Gro’ suits and waist harnesses. Our Guide then clipped on fleece jacket, beanie hat, scarf, gloves, headlamp, radio and headphones, handkerchief (attached to the wrist with a piece of elastic) and a very large roller clip. Looking like aliens from another planet, we were then tested on our ability to climb and descend a vertical metal ladder before being finally passed as suitable candidates for the bridge crossing and firmly clipped onto a fixed safety cable, to which we would remain attached until our return.

The Climb itself was not particularly strenuous but was rewarded with breathtaking views of Sydney. The sun was slowly setting as we ascended the ladders and catwalks to the top, before crossing over and descending to see the city lighting up for a winter (July!) evening. The pace was leisurely with stops for photographs, and was accompanied by a radio commentary from our knowledgable guide describing the bridge and its views. In all, by the time we had returned and removed all our ‘kit’ we had spent nearly 3.1/2 hrs. on the climb. All thoughts of being fined for being late and missing the ‘Early Doors’ club had long disappeared.

At 134 m. high and 1149 m. long Sydney Harbour Bridge is certainly rather larger than Bont Carrog. And at 52,800 tons it is certainly much heavier. But, being built in 1661, ours is 270 years older and as long as we look after and treat it with respect it should last for many more years to come.

Both bridges were built to serve exactly the same purpose however - to join together two halves of one community separated by a stretch of water!

Ian and Bron Lebbon.

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