Sydney Harbour Bridge Turns 80: Australia (Video)

It is the 80th Birthday of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia; I think it is very well known to most people, mainly because of the New Years Eve fireworks that are always held around the bridge and harbour. What you may not know is that a lot of Aussies call this bridge “The Coathanger” for obvious reasons. πŸ™‚

Sydney Harbour Bridge. Approaches from the air...

Image via Wikipedia

The Bridge was officially opened in March 1932. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is in the Guinness World Records as the world’s widest long-span bridge. It is the 5th longest spanning-ach bridge, and the tallest steel arch bridge. It is 134 metres or 440 feet high.

English: Construction of the Sydney Harbor Bri...

Image via Wikipedia

The bridge carries rail, all road vehicles, and of course pushbikes and pedestrians. During very hot days in summer, the height of the arch actually expands around 18 cm or 7.1 inches. Large steel pins support each end of the arch allowing it to rotate for the expansion and contraction; this avoids any damage that would normally occur.

English: One of the many nuts holding the Sydn...

Image via Wikipedia

The Sydney Harbour Bridge requires constant inspections and other maintenance work to keep it safe for the public, and to protect from corrosion. Among the trades employed on the bridge are painters, ironworkers, boilermakers, fitters, electricians, plasterers, carpenters, plumbers, and riggers.

Woolloomooloo and the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Image via Wikipedia

The most noticeable maintenance work on the bridge involves painting. The steelwork of the bridge that needs to be painted is a combined 485,000 square metres (120 acres), the equivalent of sixty football fields. Each coat on the bridge requires some 30,000 litres (6,600 imp gal) of paint. A special fast-drying paint is used, so that any paint drops have dried before reaching the vehicles or bridge surface. One notable identity from previous bridge-painting crews is Australian comedian and actor Paul Hogan, who worked as a bridge painter before rising to media fame in the 1970s.

If you would like to know more about the bridge, Wikipedia has got an excellent article on this, with a world of information.


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70 Responses to Sydney Harbour Bridge Turns 80: Australia (Video)

  1. gitwizard says:

    Excellent post Mags!
    I love all this stuff about statistics. Billy Connolly did a TV series about his travels in Australia and one of the shows featured him climbing up the bridge and telling us all about the maintenance crews.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi gitwizard,
      Oh yes you see it all when you climb the bridge. I personally have not done this, but friends have and the photos were fantastic, and work crews everywhere. πŸ™‚

  2. Pam says:

    This is great! When we visited Sydney, we stayed in a room with a view of the Bridge and the Opera House. I’ll have to post a picture of the bridge on our site that we took at night. I’ll be happy to link to your article above. πŸ™‚

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Pam,
      There is some great accommodation in Sydney with gorgeous views of the harbour, and it all looks very spectacular at night as well. πŸ™‚
      You should post your photo. πŸ˜€

  3. niasunset says:

    Great post… Thank you dear Mags, with my love, nia

  4. E.C. says:

    Happy Birthday Mr. Bridge. Great photos and history. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  5. I love history, thanks for this!!!!!!

  6. Windsmoke. says:

    She’s definitely a grand dame indeed. Back in 1992 while visiting Sydney my goal was to walk and drive across the Sydney Harbour Bridge which i did and will never forget :-).

  7. Great post Mags. Great watching!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi This Sydney Life,
      It’s good to look back on how it all started and what was achieved with the building of the bridge, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. πŸ˜€

  8. barb19 says:

    You did a great job on our “Coathanger” Mags, lots of information on how the bridge came about. Well done!

  9. One day I intend to cross that bridge! I want to do the climb up to the top like I’ve seen some do. I think Sydney Harbour is just beautiful! (My daughter sang at the Sydney Opera House several years ago – too bad I wasn’t able to go at the time.)

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi A Gripping Life,
      I believe the climb is fantastic, I have never done it (too chicken πŸ™‚ ) but some photos that I have seen from way up there are beyond words.
      What a shame you couldn’t go to see your daughter at the Opera House. Your daughter must be very talented indeed.

  10. LimeIsBetter says:

    LIKE! πŸ™‚

  11. Interesting. I never knew all this about the bridge. Happy Birthday to this beautiful structure.

  12. ~mimo~ says:

    so interesting! I love bridges both literally and symbolically! Nice work!

  13. Rebekah says:

    Very interesting reading, Mags! I love this type of stuff … Seems that big bridges often have their own history.

    Another Australian actor who I also really like is Bryan Brown.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Rebekah,
      A lot of history, and interesting how they managed to get around some problems, remarkable for the time period. πŸ™‚
      Bryan Brown, a great actor, things you may not know about him, I had to check up on Wiki because I wasn’t sure of the dates.

      Brown was inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame in 1989. He received the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Breaker Morant (1980) and for Two Hands (1999).

      In June 2005, Brown was made a Member of the Order of Australia “for service to the community through a range of charitable organisations committed to providing assistance and support to families and young people and to the Australian film and television industry Wikipedia

      • Rebekah says:

        Cool! First time I saw him, it was in ‘A town like Alice’. Then, of course, as Luke in ‘Thornbirds’…others too, that can’t remember right now..

        • magsx2 says:

          He done a lot of wonderful things in Australia, and helped a lot of people that needed help, it was great that he was awarded the Order of Australia. πŸ˜€

  14. Elyse says:

    Wonderful!!!! And I’ve had a crush on Bryan Brown since “A Town Like Alice.” Thanks Mags, and Happy Birthday to one of the most beautiful bridges anywhere!

  15. Your posts are always so informative while remaining fun and fabulous. Happy Birthday to the Harbour Bridge. May she always be as strong and glamorous as she is today.

  16. Great historical record that changed the face of Sydney , reading this makes me recollect an incident on the opening ,was the opening tape cut by a officer of the army prior to the official opening ? and if so why ?
    Cheers
    Ian aka Emu

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi aussieian,
      The people would be lost without that bridge, it definitely did change the face of Sydney.
      I hadn’t heard about that at all, it may be true, there is most likely an account of that written down somewhere, you just never know. πŸ™‚

  17. tempo says:

    ..and it STILL hasn’t fallen down… I heard a story from the early days when they were still building it. The end piers were up and the arch has just been joined, a bloke riding by stopped to chat with a couple of builders and commented that he didn’t think his horse could make it up and over the arch. (he mistakenly thought the roadway would go over the arch)

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi tempo,
      I can certainly picture that happening. There would of been a lot of people back in that era that would not of understood the design of the bridge, but you have to admit in this day and age it does sound funny. πŸ™‚

  18. aFrankAngle says:

    Great job of dedicating a post to one of your national treasures and an the landmark known by many across the world. Loved the old news reel!

    Classic bridges are just that … classic – and this is one! Another is the Brooklyn Bridge, but what many don’t know (including those in NYC), the prototype the builder had a prototype and it’s in my Cincinnati. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Roebling_Suspension_Bridge

    Wonderful post Mags!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi aFrankAngle,
      Yes Sydney Harbour Bridge is definitely a land mark, so well known everywhere. πŸ™‚
      That is unreal about the suspension bridge, thank you for thinking about that and putting in the link.
      Thank You I’m glad you liked the post. πŸ™‚

      • aFrankAngle says:

        In terms of the Brooklyn Bridge, I can recall hearing incorrect information from a tour guide about it – but I was nice and didn’t correct them.

        • magsx2 says:

          It is surprising how often that happens with tour guides, good on you for correcting him, it can be embarrassing in some circumstances, I totally agree with what you did. πŸ™‚

          • aFrankAngle says:

            Oh no … I didn’t correct them … I took the high road and stayed mum … If I said anything, I would have done so in private (but I can’t recall if I did).

          • magsx2 says:

            I meant “not correcting him” I missed a word. DUH. πŸ™‚
            Yes saying something in private is the only way or just not worrying about it is what I most likely would fo done. πŸ™‚

  19. The Emu says:

    Your blog intrigued me so I looked a little deeper and this is what I was referring to earlier
    Cheers mate
    Emu

    The bridge was formally opened on Saturday, 19 March 1932.[28] Amongst those who attended and gave speeches were the state Governor, Sir Philip Game, the Minister for Public Works, and Ennis. The Labor Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, was to open the bridge by cutting a ribbon at its southern end.
    Francis de Groot declares the bridge open
    However, just as Lang was about to cut the ribbon, a man in military uniform rode in on a horse, slashing the ribbon with his sword and opening the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the name of the people of New South Wales before the official ceremony began. He was promptly arrested. The ribbon was hurriedly retied and Lang performed the official opening ceremony. After he did so, there was a 21-gun salute and an RAAF flypast. The intruder was identified as Francis de Groot. He was convicted of offensive behaviour and fined Β£5 after a psychiatric test proved he was sane. He was a member of a right-wing paramilitary group called the New Guard, opposed to Lang’s leftist policies and resentful of the fact that a member of the Royal Family had not been asked to open the bridge. De Groot was not a member of the regular army but his uniform allowed him to blend in with the real cavalry. This incident was one of several involving Lang and the New Guard during that year.

  20. Man-O-Man did I ever learn a lot — phenomenal post (as always). Thank you!

  21. Happy Birthday, Sydney Harbour Bridge! It always astounds me to see how engineers dream up these marvelous wonders of the world, as the narrator said, a “vast web of steel.” And how humans can work together to follow the blueprint and build something so attractive and functional at the same time. Simply amazing!

  22. El Guapo says:

    Great thumbnail sketch of the bridge, Magsx2, and happy birthday to a world famous icon.

    Also, yeah, it’s on my list of places to climb too…

  23. Arindam says:

    Thanks for sharing this part of the history. Happy Birth Day to this wonderful & beautiful bridge. πŸ™‚

  24. travelrat says:

    I heard that it was modelled on the ANZAC ‘Rising Sun’ cap badge ??

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  26. It’s such an iconic bridge, I’d love to see it for myself in real life.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi tearoomdelights,
      It just seems to be one of those bridges that everybody knows as soon as they see a picture. πŸ˜€
      Keep Australia on your bucket list, you just never know. πŸ™‚

  27. Tony McGurk says:

    1st time I’ve ever seen a pre-bridge photo. Sydney Harbour looks really odd with out it & the opera house. Very interesting post.

  28. dearrosie says:

    Once again you taught me something I didn’t know, and this time about your Sydney Harbour Bridge. Interesting to learn that it is constantly inspected by so many trades. Quick drying paint eh?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi dearrosie,
      Yes it is amazing the amount of people that work on the bridge all year round. Sorry I don’t know anything about the paint except something is added to it to make it dry faster, it must work, I haven’t read of anyone getting paint splashed onto their cars. πŸ˜€

  29. Selma says:

    She’s a beautiful old bridge indeed. I love seeing the sun set behind the Harbour Bridge. Quite a lovely sight. Hapy 80th!

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  32. creativeboys says:

    Cool Bridge! 80th and still standing still! πŸ˜‰

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