There are two options in terms of climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge – either a climb up the south-east Pylon, the one closest to Circular Quay, or the main bridge climb by which you can get to the top of the arch. I have not done the main bridge climb, nor do I intend to, for reasons outlined on my Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb review. You can also find more details on the Bridge and its history in my main Sydney Harbour Bridge review.
Both climbs are operated by the same company which massively hypes the A$300 plus main bridge climb and seldom, if ever, advertises the $15 Pylon climb.
The Pylon climb is 200 steps high and takes you to a height of 87 metres above mean sea level. En-route to the top you pass through three levels of exhibits detailing the history and construction of the bridge. Apart from a couple of stained glass ‘windows’ (back-lit by lights) depicting various trades involved in building the bridge and the opportunity to learn about a family of white cats which used to live atop the bridge, the exhibits are not particularly interesting and could easily be missed if time was pressing.
From the top of the Pylon the most interesting view for me was that onto the metal frame of the bridge itself – hard to get this view (pictured above) from anywhere else. You can also get close up views of groups doing the main bridge climb. The views of the Opera House, Circular Quay, City and Harbour are also excellent but not massively better than those from the Pylon base, at road level.
Incidentally, the four bridge pylons are mainly there for aesthetic reasons and have little or no structural value.
Yes, the Pylon climb is worth doing and a bargain compared with the cost of the main bridge climb. Unlike on the main bridge climb, you can take your camera up to the Pylon lookout.
Also at the top of the Pylon is a small gift shop with nothing much on offer that you won’t find elsewhere in the city, probably at lower cost. Also, there are toilet facilities. Peeing from the top of the arch on the main bridge climb is not permitted and there are no toilets up there!
Once you have completed the Pylon climb I encourage you continue on and complete the walk across the bridge (all up it takes about 20 minutes).
Getting to the Pylon (from the city side) can be a bit tricky. Per the website detailed below:
‘Access is via the pedestrian pathway on the Eastern side of the Bridge, from the city side use the ‘Bridge Stairs’ in Cumberland Street, The Rocks. Or if you are coming from the North side use the steps near Milsons Point Railway Station.’
You cannot get up from the base of the Pylon at Dawes Point. There are a couple of little maps on the website to make access easier.
As there is no lift, this activity is not wheelchair friendly and requires that you be able to climb 200 steps.
Like the main bridge climb, the Pylon climb has also attracted celebrities – this time in the form of The Cookie Monster and Elmo, Stuart Little, Bob the Builder, Basil Brush and, of course, TheRamblingWombat!
Pylon Climb Opening Hours
Daily: 10am – 5pm (last entry 4.45pm) –closed Christmas Day.
Cost (June 2017):
Adult A$15.00 with concessions available for seniors, students and children. Note that entry is free if you have completed a full bridge climb.
Tickets are acquired inside the Pylon just before you reach the top.
Address: South East Pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Directions: Access is via the pedestrian pathway on the Eastern side of the Bridge
Phone: 61 (0)2 9240 1100