Bored with barbed wire on the bridge. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, NSW, Australia. 2010

I bought a second hand Fuji S5 pro on ebay the other day, so I thought I’d wander around town and take some shots with it to see if everything was O.K. with it.

I’ve been feeling a bit low in energy lately so I figured I should get some exercise by walking from town hall to North Sydney, over the Sydney Harbour bridge. It’s not far, at only 4.5kms or just under 3 miles. Today was a warm sunny day and the views from the Harbour Bridge promised to be as beautiful as ever.

The road that goes over Sydney Harbour Bridge is about 50 metres or 160 feet above the water and because it is so high it was a popular spot to commit suicide, back in the 1930s during the depression, wire suicide barriers complete with barbed wire were installed in 1937 and have largely been a successful, if very ugly, solution.

Landmark structures like the Sydney Harbour bridge, not only attract the suicidal but also climbers.

 

Back when I used to rock climb in the early 1990s many of my climbing friends had climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was considered a doddle with spectacular views. In those days, the fine for climbing the bridge was only $200 and most of my friends climbed it at night and didn’t get caught. Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge was something I always wanted to do but unfortunately the fine went up to $1200 and that put me off. Nowadays the fine is $2200 and the bridge is covered with detection systems that make getting caught assured.

As much as I would’ve like to have climbed the bridge, I can understand why all the security has been stepped up and the fines increased. For example, years ago, my good friend Paul decided it would be a simply brilliant idea to climb the bridge with some friends after a heavy drinking session at a buck’s party. Needless to say, he fell off after only (and luckily) 5 meters (about 15feet), onto the railway tracks below, with his arm behind his back, smashing it so badly that his arm is now held together with about 6 steel bolts.

Thanks to all the recent terrorism around the world, there are now security guards and cameras all over the bridge as well.

 

Now, not only has photography been made difficult because of all the wire everywhere, there is the added paranoia of whether or not it’s considered a preliminary act of terrorism if one photographs any of these security measures, intentionally or not.

I guess me being a pasty white guy who doesn’t look like he’s from the middle east goes some way towards my cavities being left unprobed. After all the anti terrorism ads on TV, where people are encouraged to report suspicious activities, I wouldn’t recommend anyone who looks obviously middle eastern, take photos of anything other than the view from Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Because if the big brothers watching the security monitors thought some malicious reconnoitring was going on, it would be highly likely they’d get frog marched off by a nearby security guard, probably of middle eastern appearance (sometimes it seems like almost every second security guard in Sydney is from a Lebanese background), for a “chat” in an enclosed uncomfortable place.

All this talk about people of middle eastern appearance reminds me of once when my wife and I were at the airport about to go overseas, when a security guy asked for my wife to step out and be checked over with a hand held metal detector. Anyone who has met my wife, Engogirl will know she is the embodiment of sweetness and light and it’s obvious that she would’nt hurt a fly, never mind blow up an airplane full of people.

The security guard was so apologetic, saying that he had to pick people out at random. We told him we understood and that for appearance sake they can’t just pick on people of middle eastern appearance. He said, “you’re so right!” they get so mad, they just blow up!”…… “I mean … I mean, I mean, get so angry”. The poor guy was so flustered that he had said something that was accidentally so politically incorrect. We tried to reassure him that the situation was O.K. and we weren’t going to report him. Poor sod, what a crap job. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. As for me, I wish everybody was thoroughly searched before they got on a plane, particularly one I was on.

While I acknowledge that the various security measures in place on the Harbour Bridge are necessary, I just wish the view wasn’t so obstructed. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a very popular tourist destination and many people walk across it to see the views. Surely in this day and age of the consciousness that cities should be beautiful places to live, rather than being purely functional money making machines, a more up to date and pleasing barrier could be erected on such an important landmark?