2011 February 20 – Day 46 – Sydney, Australia (Last day of the cruise)

The ship docked in the fabulously beautiful Sydney Harbour in the early morning.  The intineray for the 2011 World Cruise had two days in Sydney.  We only booked the first leg of the cruise which was 45 days from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Sydney which included the first day in port.

When we stopped in Sydney on the 2009 World Cruise we had chosen shore excursions that took us out of the city.  Since we were staying in Sydney for 5 days after we disembarked we decided to take advantage of the ship’s excursion to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It took an hour in a sweltering hot concrete block room to get ready for our climb.  First there was the safey talk, then we got suited up, then we did a ladder climb test.  By the time we finally got outside I was very glad to be in the open air.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened in March 1932 after eight years of construction.  Until 2012 with the opening if the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver, the Sydney Harbour bridge was the widest steel arch bridge in the world at 48.4 meters (160′). At the time of the opening of the bridge there were only a dozen or so residences on the North Shore, yet the designer and government of the day had the foresight to make a bridge with 6 lanes of vehicular traffic, 2 lanes of tram tracks (now used for cars and trucks), a lane on one side for bicycles and on the other for pedestrians, plus two railway tracks.  The bridge connects the Central Business District with the North Shore which is now a prime residential area.  Interesting facts: all the stone for the pylon pillars was quarried in Tasmania and shipped to Sydney and there are 6 million Australian made hand-driven rivets in the bridge.

Since the harbour bridge has a constant flow of vehicles, bicycles and people on it night and day you are not allowed to have anything on your wrists or in your pockets as you climb: no watch, hat, cell phone, camera.  Everyone is given a one piece suit to put over your clothes, if you wear glasses or sunglasses you are given a strap for them that is clipped to your suit.  You are provided with a hat which is also clipped to your suit.  The top of the bridge is 134 meters (440′) above the water and the deck is about 91 meters (298′) from the top of the arch so anything that dropped would do serious damage and possibly cause collisions.

It took our group of 14 people about 2 hours (and about 1300 steps on catwalks and ladders) to climb the bridge with the various stops.  Once we were back on land we walked to the base of the bridge and climbed the 250 steps inside the pylon to the lookout.  From the top you see the same 360° view as from the top of the bridge. After we returned to ground level once again we did a walkabout in The Rocks; the tourist and historic area of Sydney.By then our weary legs wanted a rest so it was back to the ship for our final dinner with our tablemates and farewells to the crew. Before we left the ship to begin our adventures in Australia we booked the 2012 Grand Mediterranean Cruise – 64-days round trip from Ft. Lauderdale.  (Another blog to write another time).

We loved our leisurely cruise to Australia.  We saw many new places and experienced many new things while making new friends.  The whole trip was much better than 16 hours stuck in the seat of an airplane.  If we ever to go Australia again it will also be by cruise ship.

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