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Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Icon Of Australia

May 30, 2008
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of those icons of Sydney, it is one of the best known tourist icons in the world really and it is true to say that almost everyone is familiar with it.

When you think of Sydney, along with the Opera House in Sydney Harbour, we think about Sydney Harbour Bridge.

A little bit of history on the Harbour Bridge. Sydney Harbour Bridge joins the Sydney CBD to the northern suburbs of Sydney, which is north Sydney, which is again a business area. But to the northern suburbs which is essentially a link to those residential areas.

The Bridge itself is 503 metres long, so it is a fairly long Bridge and it is 134 meters above the sea level, so it is a very high Bridge.

Now, some interesting trivia this Bridge was opened in 1932 and this quite interesting story that comes along behind it. The story goes that on the 19th of March 1932, it was a huge occasion after many years of building this Bridge, an enormous crowd had gathered on the Bridge itself and around Sydney's foreshore both on the CBD side and the north Sydney side.

People had gathered to see the official opening of this Bridge. One of the ceremonial things that was to happen, was that the Premier, the head-of-state for the state of New South Wales would declare the Bridge open and would slash a ribbon, which was sitting across the Harbour as a ceremonial signification of opening the Bridge.

There is a fantastic idea, but there was certain people that had a different idea. At the time there was a para-military group called the New Guard, who firmly believed amongst other things (they were firm Monarchists) that it was appropriate that a member of the royal family would actually open the Harbour Bridge by cutting the ribbon.

So vehemently did they believe this, they took real offence to an Australian head-of-state actually cutting the ribbon.

A General by the name of Capt. Francis de Groot, who was a representative of this group was on horse back and he positioned himself quite close to where the ribbon was waiting for Premier Lang to arrive.

Just before the Premier got there, de Groot mounted on his horse galloped forward, pulled out his sword and slashed the ribbon, and declared the Bridge open in the name of the decent citizens of the New South Wales.

De Groot was subsequently arrested and taken to a psychiatric hospital, where they found him sane, but he faced a fine and a charge for offensive behavior in a public place. Anyway, interesting little bit of trivia in the history of the Harbour Bridge.

Today the Harbour Bridge has many uses. Firstly and probably primarily it is a major road between the northern suburbs, populations of Sydney and the Sydney Central Business District.

There are six right lanes, three to four lanes either way of thick traffic, particularly during peak hour it could get very congested. So it is a big thing the fact that there is traffic there. There is also a train line that goes each way across it for the same kind of thing.

There's also a pedestrian access on the eastern side, you can actually walk by pedestrian access and we'll talk a little bit about that in a minute, about how you can do that. Hundreds of commuters actually walk across Harbour Bridge to get to and from the city to go to work everyday. So this is a serious pedestrian thoroughfare to get from the north side down to the south.

Interestingly enough, also there's every year in Sydney they have a running event, a marathon running event called The Bridge Run or The Bridge Marathon. What this is, is as the name implies it is a running event of varying lengths, but a key focus of the running event is actually running across the Harbour Bridge.

I have participated in this and it is fantastic event and it really is something, and they close up all the traffic obviously. And as far as the eye can see, thousands of people running across that Bridge embarking on their marathon or half-marathon or fun-run, varying distances are available.

So that is another use, and that is really only once or twice a year that they run those runs and it causes a lot of problems for the traffic, because you have to re-route it in different ways. But it is one of the ways, that Sydney siders use their bridge, it affords magnificent views as well.

When you are actually on the bridge walking across it, beautiful views of the Harbour and the foreshores by following the northern or the southern side is pretty good.

Another big one which you have probably seen on television is New Year's Eve. Now what Sydney has done in every since well it will be many years now, since well before 2000, is that the Harbour Bridge itself because it so such a public high icon, thousands and thousands of fireworks are actually fired from there at midnight on New Year's Eve.

It's a focal point there, it is zoomed all across the world and very much from Sydney, at midnight everyone knows to look to the Harbour for the fireworks that run 15 to 20 minutes. And really is a New Year's Eve spectacle.
About the Author
Garry Searle has lived in Sydney, for 15 years. His podcast, The Sydney
Visitor, is the free authoritative guide to experiencing the sights and sounds
of Sydney Australia. To
instantly hear more inside information on visiting Sydney Australia, go to
www.thesydneyvisitor.com.
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