… is not the capital of Australia (that’s still Canberra), but one of the best known – if not the best known city of Australia. Everybody knows the extravagantly created opera house, for many people the most sexiest building in the world. The whole world knows the famous harbour bridge. Every year on new year’s eve, the pictures of pyrotechnics being fired from the bridge and brightly lightening up the harbor and the nearby opera house, are being broadcast into the world’s living rooms.
Sydney is located on Australia’s east coast. It is the biggest town of Australia with 5 million inhabitants. Due to artifacts found in the Blue Mountains, historians think that some 30,000 years ago Australian aborigines were already settled in the area of Sydney. The more recent history of Sydney dates back to the late 18th century, when the British created a penal colony for their convicts. This penal colony was the first European settlement in Australia. In 1840, the last convict transportation to Sydney took place. Since then, Sydney has developed into a cultural and economic center. In 1842 Sydney became Australia’s first city. After the second world war mass immigration transformed Sydney into one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
Sydney is worth a trip. We used Jacob’s one week school holiday to travel there. It was a great week full of new insights and experiences – let me just mention some of them.
The bridge climb:
In March 1932, the Sydney Harbor Bridge was inaugurated. Due to its appearance the bridge is nicknamed coat hanger. With a span of 503 meters and a height of 135 meters at its apex, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is one of the biggest and longest arch bridges in the world. Both steel arches can be climbed.
Punctually at 9 o’clock in the morning we were at the office of the company which organizes the bridge climb. After a short introduction, we received our climbing equipment: a blue climbing overall and a climbing harness, with which we were secured to the bridge’s climbing robes throughout the whole climb. Our climbing group comprised 14 persons in total. Via headphones we stayed connected to the climbing guide, who during the climb explained everything you wanted to know about the bridge and the harbor, such as:
– 8 lanes, 2 railway tracks, 1 pavement, 1 cycleway and the enormous width of 59 meters earned the bridge a record in the Guinness Book of records.
– 52,000 tons of steel were used and the bridge’s scaffolding is tightened with around 6 million rivets.
– 270,000 liters of paint were used to color the 485,000 m2 of steel. Nowadays “only” 30,000 liters of paint are necessary to paint the whole bridge. A total coating of the bridge takes 10 years and when once finished the next painting starts again.
– Paul Hogan the main actor of Crocodile Dundee worked as a bridge painter before starting his career as an actor.
Well attached to the bridge and splendidly guided by the guide, we approached the apex step by step. And then, there at the top we were rewarded by a marvelous overview of Sydney. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to bring our cameras, so we had to impress the extraordinary sight in our memory. In total, the bridge climb took us 3 ½ hours, certainly a worthwhile and lasting experience – truly recommendable!
The second landmark of the city is the Sydney opera house which is in immediate proximity to the bridge. Certainly, it’s the world’s most famous opera as far as the architecture is concerned. It was designed by the Danish architect Jorn Utzon and inaugurated in October 1973. Some see in the form of the opera a shell others interpret its extraordinary design as a sail. The architect himself says the opera is adapted from the unfolding of an orange. The Sydney opera house is not restricted to the performance of operas but it is a performing arts venue in general, probably the most renowned in the world.
Some facts: The opera house has about 1000 rooms, five theatres, five rehearsal studios, two main halls, four restaurants, six bars and numerous souvenir shops. Its power supply could provide a town with 25,000 inhabitants with energy. 645 kilometers of electric cable distribute the current. The Concert Hall is equipped with the world’s biggest organ with more than 10,000 pipes. The opera’s roof consists of 1,056,000 glazed white granite tiles.
In 1957 the original cost estimate for the building came up to $ 7,000,000. At its completion in 1973 the construction costs soared to dazzling $102,000,000.
Queen Elisabeth II formally opened the opera house on the 20th of October, 1973. For the opening Beethoven’s Symphonie No. 9 was performed.
Besides the bridge climb and a visit to the Opera house, we attended a performance of the American rapper Icecube, and we visited all other touristic hotspots of the city: The renowned Sea World of Sydney with its numerous sharks gliding majestically through the water, the unique Taronga Zoo and of course, the famous Bondi and Manly Beaches, which are one of the world’s most famous surf spots.
With the visit to Sydney Jacob has travelled to all the continents of the world. He managed to do that before turning 12. In comparison to that, it took me 60 years to accomplish the same. Times have totally changed since I was a young boy!