Reliving The Most Iconic Moments From The Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Today marks the 90th anniversary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening.

The landmark was built on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Cammeraygal People.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge has staged important moments over its lifetime, with one of the most memorable being the Walk For Reconciliation in May 2000.

“We had a quarter of a million people walk across the road deck of the bridge. So it was packed full of people, bustling along a sea of people all along the roadway. It was Indigenous people, Non-indigenous people, everyone came together,” said Amy Clews, Climb Leader from BridgeClimb. 

A bridge to connect Sydney Harbour was proposed in 1815, but construction didn’t start until 1923 and was completed on 19 March 1932.

The bridge was built in two halves and once the two arches met, work began on the deck.

Australian engineer John Bradfield oversaw the design and construction of the bridge. However it could have looked very different.

The single arch bridge inspired by New York’s Hell Gate Bridge was the winner.

“They call it the cathedral of steel. It’s a really cool way that people describe it just because the intricacy of the steel is just so I guess breathtaking,” said Amy Clews.

The bridge was also nicknamed the “Iron Lung” because it kept many people employed during the Depression.

16 men died and many more were injured in the construction of the bridge. One person survived falling from the bridge into the harbour below.

Nowadays, the Sydney Harbour Bridge needs to be repainted every five years.

It takes 30,000 litres of paint to give the bridge just one coat of paint.

“Paul Hogan – he was actually an employee up here on the bridge. He was a Rigger. So basically putting in all the scaffolding to help out all the painters back in the 1970s [and] there’s some pretty gnarly photos. Those of him up here, you know, shirtless, just, leaning with no handrails, no steps, nothing like that. Just chilling up there,” Amy told Junkee.

Today the iconic bridge is enjoyed by everyone.

Roughly 160,000 vehicles cross the bridge everyday and every year, around 1 million people watch the New Years Eve firework show from the harbour and 1 billion people have tuned in worldwide.

Celebrities also love the bridge!

Diplo epically performed the first ever dj set on top of the bridge in 2019.

“We’ve had a bunch of celebrities, you know, you name it. We had Steve Irwin. We had Paul McCartney, Robert de Niro, Ben Stiller. He came up as Zoolander and he didn’t break character, the whole time, it was so cool,” said Amy.

Amy also told Junkee that the BridgeClimb has had around four million climbers reach the summit.

There’s also been five thousand engagements or proposals at the top, which Amy said is always fun, especially when they say yes. Though, when they say no it can be a very awkward way down for both Amy and the couple.

“It’s the most climbed bridge in the world. We have that as a fact which is yeah, pretty cool.”