Monday, March 19, 2007

Bridge Walk

You better get a cuppa tea. This is going to be a long post. There's plenty of pictures but.

Yesterday was the birthday of Our Bridge, the Coathanger, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I booked for the Bridge Walk as soon as booking was open and walked it with a couple of mates from Sydney.

Would've been good to see the ceremony in the morning with the smoking (smudging) and the fly-overs and the marching bands but next time (2032). Had a thing on in the morning I couldn't wriggle out of but I got away at lunch time and set off.

All was fine and dandy until it came to swapping trains at Hornsby, as per instructions. About a hundred of us Bridge Walkers clambered off the train to Central and started up the stairs to the North Shore line. Halfway up them a garbled announcement came over the PA. Something about "a death on the tracks" at North Sydney. We descended on the station attendants like anxious lemmings. They had no idea what'd happened. The news had just come through. We were told the trains were running across the Bridge and to get back on the train we'd just got off.

It was gone.

We hung about on the platform waiting for the next one and speculated about the death to pass the time. A queue jumper crossing the track at North Sydney and got squished? Some Dear Old Thing who'd walked it at the 1932 opening had carked it on the way to todays' walk? An over-keen photographer had climbed up onto a pylon, forgotten to hang on and dropped onto the tracks in front of a moving train? Turns out this was going it a bit but there was a body found on the tracks. We'll find out what happened in a few days maybe.

The next train to Central came and we piled on. They laid on extra trains but the extra trains were full of extra people. I spent the trip squashed into a corner with a close-up on someone's elbow.

Dear Old Things on the train entertained us with their stories of walking the Bridge on opening day in 1932. Most of them were under escort by rellies and had those seat-onna-stick things to sit on if they needed a rest during the Walk. There was also a gaggle of Dear Old Things on their own, twittering with excitement and happy to still be alive for its 75th birthday.

With all that to listen to the trip didn't seem very long. As the train came up out of the City Circle (Sydney's underground railway) and across the Bridge, we goggled out the windows at the walkers and all the kids and Dear Old Things waved at each other.

I got out at North Sydney station and wandered about near the rows of port-a-loos until my mates showed then we followed the crowd.

Approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Heading along the Bridge approach from North Sydney station. It was pretty light still at this point but by the time we were on the bridge proper, the clouds were getting darker and darker.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

They gave us green hats. As we came up the rise towards the Bridge there was a bloke with a microphone exhorting us to collect our free hats in nice orderly queues. We did.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Thar she blows. Our Bridge. As we came up to it we could hear How great thou art booming from the ABC's speaker stacks.

Police officers on Sydney Harbour Birdge 18th of March 2007

Our boys and girls in blue made sure there was no aggro.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Finest Pommy steel and 6 million rivets.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Volunteer taking someone's photo for them. They had megaphones and were perched on those towers every fifty yards or so.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Bridge Climbers waving at us proles walking below them. There's some crowd that does regular Bridge climbs for the hale and hearty.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

A chopper flew round and round the Bridge the whole time. No TV station logo and it was dark blue so it was probably PolAir.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Cross-brace thingy and directions for getting in the right lane.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Presumably access for the painters and rivet tighteners and the Inspector of Bridges. Dunno if there is such a post as the Inspector of Bridges but wouldn't it be a cool job?

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

More Climbers and what looked like wind chimes. Thought I heard a couple of quiet chimes over the hubbub of everyone saying "are those wind chimes?" but there was hardly a breeze. South-east (left) and south-west pylons in the background.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Looking back from between the south-west (left) and south-est pylons, at the Sydney CBD end. There's two lots of Climbers up there. See them? One lot on the left bottom corner of the span and the other up the top.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Some sort of maintenance person, possibly in charge of the spanners for the speakers. Aunty had stacks of speakers set up along the Bridge broadcasting loops of the 1932 opening day speeches, popular somgs of the day and world events happening since the Bridge was opened. It's Aunty's 75th birthday this year as well.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

South East pylon. The museum is in it and there's a viewing platform up the top. You can see the whole of the Harbour and the museum has some cool movies of the construction and stuff.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Bored volunteers and a TV crew against the Sydney CBD skyline. That thin thing with the knob on top is the Sydney Tower AKA Centrepoint Tower.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

And still they came. In fact, they were still coming after dark. They were given hats-with-lights-on when it got dark and on the midday news today there was some pretty footage of them walking across and the Bridge all lit up.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Electronic signs told us where to get off and an ancient road sign lent a hand.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

"HAPPY 75TH *heart*" hanging out the window of a narrow late 19th/early 20th century terrace house in Cumberland Street or George Street in The Rocks.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Bored coppers and ambos (cops and paramedics) near the south end toll-gate. We were a quiet and healthy crowd and they had bugger all to do all day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Never turn your camera off. That's when they do a fly-over. The zoom kicked in as soon as they disappeared.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

National Trust building. There was a concert on there or behind it on Observatory Hill and both were swarming with people in green hats.

Sydney Harbour Bridge 18th of March 2007

Heading for the pub. The Grosvenor Street off-ramp leading to The Rocks.

It was a lovely walk. Australians are a pretty calm crowd. (Except at the footy and the cricket of course.) It was great to see the Bridge at one's leisure. Gotta go on one of those climbing tours over the top one day. The train home was not as full but people were still talking about it, asking strangers "did you do the walk?" and swapping stories about their neighbour's granddad who worked on its construction and so on.

More reading
Professor Bashir, current NSW Governor, cut the ribbon for the birthday celebrations and the guy who started the Bridge Climb crowd has the sword de Groot used to cut the ribbon at the 1932 opening. (SMH)

Dr Sue Ogle was born on the Bridge in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

The Bridge is now on the National Heritage List.

Iemma AKA Morris Dilemma, current NSW Premier, bunged up a plaque on Dawes Point (the Circular Quay side) commemorating the 16 Bridge workers killed in its construction.

"[The plaque] was warmly welcomed by Jacqueline Porter, daughter of J. Alexander Faulkner, a 40-year-old rigger who was killed on March 30, 1931, when struck by a piece of metal plating that fell from a crane working overhead...
Captain Faulkner ... had served with distinction as an engineer on the Somme, had survived the "horrors of war", only to be killed on the half-complete Harbour Bridge." (SMH)

If you missed Constructing Australia: The Bridge on the telly last night, Aunty will proably be flogging it on DVD.

Crowds praised for good behaviour

Walkers stories

Links to photos and videos here at the Herald, including 10 pages of souvineer photos to buy.

Sydney Webcam showing the Bridge.

Under the Bridge with Sydney Spy.

No workie
You couldn't comment on last week's Bridge post. Blogger was having a little lie down but it's all right now. Bung yer Bridge stories up here.

Finally answered your question about the red flowering plant at the Cockle Bay Wetland. Only took me a fortnight.

Sorrento Road
Some excellent news on Davis & Settree. Dave & Barb, the current owners, left us a note to say they're adding the townhouses behind the historic building not knocking it down. Thank yer, much appreciated.

Okay. I'm all blogged out. See you Wednesday.


Callisto said...

Hey, great post Spike, and great photies. I walked over the bridge the day before, and saw this, sweet huh?

tonch said...

God, that's an awesome post. I'm so sad I missed, nice to surprise to see that you linked me in the middle there.

Keep writing, it's good stuff!

Spike said...

Callisto - Thank yer kindly.

Sweet indeed. Didn't notice any myself but then I was too busy staring at the rivets and joints. I did notice some peeps waving from a high balcony in Lower Fort Street or thereabouts. Must've been a lovely sight from up there when the walkers in hats-with-lights-on were crossing.

You had a much better sky for photos the day before. Pity you didn't make it to the Walk though. It was brilliant.

Tonch - You're very kind. I liked your underneath views.

You gotta go for the next one, mate. It was triffic.

Belongum said...

Great post Spike... I have never hotfooted it over the bridge, but I've sailed under it many times in RAN vessels. Nothing quite captures that 'coming home' moment till you've passed under that bridge - no matter which state you come from.

It's like sailing in and out of hte Heads... it's a great felling - and the anticipation mate - well... it brings back cool memories.

Cheers Spike...


Spike said...

Belongum - Thank yer.

Nothing quite captures that 'coming home' moment till you've passed under that bridge - no matter which state you come from.

Dead right. I went under it one time on the Lavender Bay ferry and felt a strange sort of reverse homesickness.

When are you going to tell us these navy tales? 6 months in a leaky boat with a lot of other blokes, shennanigans involved beer and Harbour islands and so on. Spill!

Belongum said...

Navy tales aren't THAT exciting Spike... ;-) I struggle to remember them now - they seem like a dream at times. I do however, intend to post something that might interest you soon... I'm wrapping my brain box around it now - as we 'speak'. I only hope it comes out as well as your yarn here mate. I'll do the NAvy thing after that... sheesh - no pressure right!? ;-) lol

Cheers mate

Spike said...

Belongum said: Navy tales aren't THAT exciting

Clearly you haven't seen Darren Does Destroyers :)