Three Views of Sydney Harbour.
If I were to give one scrap of advice to the planners of a new metropolis, I’d suggest they somehow wriggle a huge harbour in among the city and suburbs. From every angle Sydney Harbour is eye catching. It’s so unique that it’s the only body of water in Australia that isn’t compared to the size of Sydney Harbour. Without it, Sydney would simply be an unspectacular coastal city with an oddly located bridge and a strange white building with a sail-like roof.
Over a few days during a recent visit I managed to view the Harbour from a variety of vantage points, some elevated and some at sea level. Here are my top three, not counting the time I spent actually on the water. See Manly ferry blog.
Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout
One thing I learnt about the pylons is that they play absolutely no part in supporting the bridge. I also learnt - the hard way - that there are 200 steps from the deck to the lookout. But the climb is worth the effort, though it’s a tad alarming when you emerge at the top to discover how open the viewing area is.
From here there’s a clear view of the traffic, train and pedestrian action on the road below, plus you can see the ferries coming and going at Circular Quay. Just across the way is that white building with a sail-like roof, which looks nothing short of stunning in the setting sun.
The bridge climbers making their way up the steel arch are so close that you can easily exchange a friendly wave - though some of them seemed unwilling to loosen their grip on the handrails.
Inside the pylon you’ll find a wealth of information on the bridge’s construction and history. On the bottom level there’s a cinema showing some entertaining historic footage.
From ground level to the top of the spire, Sydney Tower is 309 metres tall, making it the tallest building in the city. The main column ably supports the turret while 56 cables help stabilise the structure.
Before you shoot up the lift to the Sydney Tower Eye viewing area you’ll be treated to a 4D experience in the cinema. It’s clear that considerable time, effort and equipment have gone into producing this short film so I won’t spoil the surprise of the fourth dimension.
The viewing area inside the golden turret offers superb 360 degree views. You can see the Bridge, catch a glimpse of the Opera House between the buildings, watch the planes taking off and landing at the airport, and follow ships as they steam towards The Heads.
With the aid of several incredibly powerful binoculars, positioned so they cover every direction, you can just about see the planes taking off and landing at Melbourne airport. Well not quite, but you will be able to take a good look at the sandwiches the construction workers on top of the building next door are eating.
If you’re keen on a bit more 4D action, you can organise a guided trip outside the tower to the external Skywalk deck.
Mrs Macquarie’s Point, The Domain
Major-General Lachlan Macquarie arrived in Sydney with his wife in 1809 and served as Governor of New South Wales until his return to England at the end of 1821. He was instrumental in changing Sydney from a rough penal colony, ruled by the corrupt 'Rum Corps', to a more civilised land of free settlement.
It’s said that Mrs Macquarie often enjoyed a stroll down to the harbour, where she probably gazed out across the water and wondered why she ever left Scotland.
To make her time by the waterfront more comfortable, local convicts were employed to carve a substantial park bench out of a sandstone ledge. Of course the Bridge and Opera House were some years away and the angle of her seat completely ignores these two icons.
But just around the corner is one of the best-known views of the Harbour. Sparkling blue water leads up to the Opera House sails, behind which, the mighty bridge stretches from shore to shore. The Domain is a gorgeous green park with sprawling lawns dotted with glorious Moreton Bay fig trees. It’s a relatively short walk from Circular Quay and would be a great place for a picnic.
If you know some great views of Sydney Harbour we'd like to hear from you.
Nuts and Bolts
Bridge Pylon Lookout - Open 7 days, 10am – 5pm, closed Christmas Day.
Entry fees (valid until 30th June, 2016)
Concession (students/senior): $8.50
Child (5 – 12): $6.50
Child under 5: free
Sydney Tower Eye - Open 7 days, 9am – 10.30pm, closed Christmas Day.
RAA Member discounted pre-purchase attractions tickets - Sydney
Mrs Macquarie’s Point