The first time I visited Sydney, I stayed in a hotel on the North Shore, and in the morning and at night, I took the train from Milsons Point into the city and back again. The location was deliberate, a strategic positioning that would force me to cross the harbor and gaze out at the water for a couple minutes every day.
In my hubris, I thought that that experience was enough for me to know the Harbour Bridge. I had stood on both sides of it and traversed its length, and from every vantage point in the city, moreover, viewing it was unavoidable. On subsequent trips, I skipped over it like a checkbox I had already ticked.
Three and a half years after my first encounter with Sydney, I was taking a ferry at night. As we steered from Balmain to Circular Quay, the bridge drew closer, and I looked up and saw a flurry of movement: a hundred bright specks arcing above the lights. Bats, feeding on insects, I thought to myself.
There were a few others on the boat—two American students on tour with their show choir, some ladies speaking German, at least one Chinese tourist, as I recall—and they had noted the flying dots as well. We all craned our necks and stared as the bridge passed overhead.
I talked about that experience afterward to friends who were sympathetic, if not quite understanding. Great, wildlife in Sydney was alive and well, but what was so special about that?
Oh, but I had rediscovered the Harbour Bridge, you see—had seen something that perhaps I had once read about but long forgotten. It had struck me unexpectedly, a dancing constellation so close to Earth, and I had seen the bridge and the world anew.
Every trip to Sydney inevitably leads to the harbor and the steel arch bridge that spans it. By day, the bridge is iconic enough, but by night, the illuminated pylons that stand on both ends are particularly romantic. Sydney Harbour Bridge is open to regular traffic, but visitors can also traverse it by foot, bike, or train. The ambitious can choose to scale the bridge via BridgeClimb, though at $288 a head, the cost, like the drop from the top of the arch to the harbor below, is staggering.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney
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