Whether you’re a Sydney local or here on holiday, the Bridge Climb tops many must do lists for teens and adults. But is it worth taking younger kids? Will they cope with the 1400 steps? Will they get bored on a 3 hour experience? How will the rest of the group react to having your youngsters as part of their climb group?
Prices start at $188 for a child and $268 for an adult, so it’s not the cheapest Sydney experience around. But is it worth the money? And will the kids appreciate the climb?
We took an 8 year old and a 10 year old to road test the Summit Express Climb.
Once we’d checked we had a little time to kill while we waited for our experience to start. The Bridge Climb reception area is an easy place to wait and the kids enjoyed watching the video of famous climbers at the summit. The most surprising picture was Cookie Monster standing a the top of the bridge with the Sydney skyline in the background.
Thinking about the experience ahead, the kids were excited but a bit nervous. Their questions were mostly about practical things. What if I need to go to the toilet? Where do we get our photo take? What do we do with out clothes when we get changed? These were all questions that the Bridge Climb crew answered for them during our briefing.
After the briefing and signing the safety forms, we were breathalyzed. Even the kids, which they thought was pretty funny. Our whole group passed and then it was time to suit up.
The climb suits are comfortable and easy to get on over your shoes, which makes the changing process quick and easy. There are lockers for your belongings and the kids liked the idea of carrying the locker key on a lanyard around their necks.
Once we were dressed it was time to get our harnesses and radios. The staff were great with the kids. They managed the balance of making the kids feel like they were part of the group, but without making the rest of us feel like we were beholden to the kid’s needs.
After a radio check it was time to climb. As we headed through the tunnel and onto the bridge approach both kids were super excited. All the apprehension was gone. Replaced with excitement and enthusiasm for the experience ahead.
We were on the Summit Express Climb – the fastest way to the top of the bridge. One-by-one we latched onto the safety wire and followed our guide Bianca out onto the catwalks. About 5 minutes into the climb both kids stopped, turned around and gave us huge grins. This was what they’d been waiting for. We all felt like we were on our way to the top of the world.
The climb starts on the eastern side of the bridge with great views of the Opera House, the Rocks and Fort Dennison. As we walked Bianca shared stories of about the history of the bridge and pointed out Sydney landmarks.
Before we started climbing the arch, you have to navigate your way through an area appropriately called the squeeze through. The kids thought this was great. And they were definitely at an advantage not having to worry about ducking under some of the lower steel beams.
When we arrived at the peak of the lower arch we all stopped to catch our breath. To be honest, the kids weren’t out of breath at all. I was, a little. But with an eight and ten year old pointing out everything they could see across the harbour, I quickly forgot how unfit I am.
As we looked around us we saw convertible cars zooming along the road deck. Trains crossing the bridge in both directions. A tall ship under full sail. People sunbathing on the bow of their luxury cruiser. The navy ships in dock at Garden Island. And green and yellow Sydney ferries criss crossing the harbour.
We were all transfixed by the colour and perspective. And animal-loving Jessica declared, ‘the birds have the best view up this high all the time.’
Before and after we climbed the staircase that takes you from the lower arch to the Summit, Bianca took photos of the mini-groups within our group. This meant that we would have snaps we could share with the steel of the bridge behind us, as well as the iconic pic from the summit with the Opera House in the background.
It’s a one incredible view. And oh so much better in real life than the photos will ever do it justice.
The kids couldn’t stop grinning, pointing out things that they could see and peppering Bianca with questions. Their enthusiasm was infectious for the whole group and we all learned more thanks to their enquiring minds.
From the summit, we descended back into the lower arch but this time on the western side of the bridge. Walking down was slightly faster than the climb up, but we had a different view. On this leg we could see out to Parramatta and the faint blue haze of the Blue Mountains beyond. Closer in we saw Luna Park and the brilliant blue of North Sydney pool, cruise ships docked at White Bay and the gardens and development at Barangaroo.
Once we arrived back at climb HQ we had to unclip from the safety wire before returning all our gear and getting dressed in our own clothes again.
At the end of the climb Jessica joked about not being able to unclip from the wire. She wanted to go up again and do the experience all over again.
Both kids said it was the best walk they’ve ever done. Their favourite bits were being at the top and Bianca’s storytelling, especially the stories of the workers who built the bridge.
The worst bit? Tired and sore legs, something they only noticed once the climb was over. An easily forgotten problem once we arrived at the ice-cream shop at Circular Quay.
Overall, I’d say Bridge Climb in Sydney is definitely an experience worth doing with young kids.
Notes for those climbing with young kids
There are a 4 reasons that I think the Summit Express is the best bridge climb option with younger children.
- There are fewer stairs
- It’s about an hour shorter than the full climb
- You still get to the summit of the bridge, but you also get to walk through the bridge so there’s variation in the overall experience
- There are fewer stops than on the Summit Climb. This means you’re constantly moving and the kids are engaged for the whole trip
Another couple of tips for doing Sydney’s Bridge Climb with young kids:
- Children have to be 8 years old and 120cm tall to climb
- Kids between the ages of 8 and 15 years need to be accompanied by an adult.
- One adult can accompany up to 3 kids
- Make sure everyone is wearing enclosed shoes
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.