When dreams become a reality – climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

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During my time as a travel agent I would book the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb for fellow travel enthusiasts every single day. I dreamt that one day it would be me climbing to the top. With every booking my desire grew stronger. Well, it may have taken me years to get there, but finally I arrived in Sydney for my turn.

As I looked up at the bridge from Circular Quay the reality of what I was about to do hit me. Up close the bridge is much higher than one can imagine. However, it wasn’t the height that concerned me, in fact I love heights. No, it was the amount of steps I would have to climb to reach the top that worried me. I was afraid my dodgy left knee would force me to quit half way. A large amount of steps, I have learnt from my travels, turns me into an eighty year old lady riddled with arthritis. But, despite the potential difficulty I would face, I was determined to fight the pain and fulfil my dream of making it to the top.

Our guide for the climb was a friendly and extremely knowledgeable Australian named Jasmine (and if you are reading this, Jasmine, thanks again for a great day!). I donned my suit, soaked up all the information from the briefing and was mentally prepared for the challenge ahead. My fellow climbers and I now looked like we were going to step foot inside a rocket to venture to Mars rather than climb a bridge. I attached myself to the steel wire and marched forwards, purposefully staying at the back of the line so I could savour the views.

The day had started with a grey sky and tiny droplets of rain, however as I climbed higher the sun managed to fight its way through the clouds and its rays greeted us, casting a feathery light across the harbour.

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With each step, as I looked out to the orange dusted sails of the ever present Opera House and looked down at the boats ebbing their way through the water, the smile on my face just didn’t want to leave. My cheeks were getting higher with every step. There I was standing on one of the worlds most famous bridges, looking out at Australia’s most famous city, feeling like the most grateful human on the planet.

It turned out that the climb was a lot easier than anticipated, and I made it to the very top of the iconic arch with no troubles, only happiness.

It may have taken me years to get there, and a small fortune too, but there is no doubt in my mind that it was worth every penny, and worth every second I had to wait.

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The most playful creatures in the ocean.

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As the boat edged its way closer to a small island off the coast of South Australia, pairs of big, brown, puppy dog eyes started to appear on the white as chalk sand. We were being watched.

I gently slid off the boat into the turquoise waters, all thoughts of potentially coming face to face with Jaws wiped from my mind as it was overtaken with excitement. I was told not to approach them, I was on their turf and therefore would have to abide by their terms. If they wanted to come and play then they would make it known.

As soon as my shoulders were under the surface they rose, one by one, from their midday slumber and waddled into the ocean, vanishing from sight. With my mask and snorkel on I dipped my head under the water to look for my new playmates, hoping they hadn’t decided to avoid the strange new human in their midst by swimming around me into the deep, dark depths of the ocean.

And then I felt it, the presence of something large breathing on my neck. I turned, slowly. Nerves and excitement bubbling away in the pit of my stomach. And there they were, those huge, adorable, big brown eyes staring into my own. A sea lion.

I am pretty sure he gave me a cheeky wink and I am positively certain he was smiling.

I understood that smile. He wanted to have some fun, and so did I.

He swam around me, lapping me into a frenzy. Pretty soon his friends joined in and they jumped in and out of the ocean, splashing and gliding through the water like rockets so I would follow them. I was soon racing with the sea lions, playing hide and seek and seeing who could spin around the fastest.

We were having a swimming contest to see who had the better tools. Human arms or sea lion flippers? Of course the sea lions won and they knew it, those little show offs.

As we swam further away from the beach a strong current started to build.

‘Be careful,’ I had been warned by the captain. ‘They’ll try and lure you out as far as they can to see if you can handle it.’

And that’s exactly what that mischievous gang of sea lions tried to do, swimming further out to the open water to see if their new human playmate could keep up with the tempo. I couldn’t of course; I could have drifted uncontrollably to Tasmania any minute, so I headed back to the beach to see if the others had finished napping.

Splashing around on the surface I shouted ‘Hey sea lions, do you want to come and play?’

A little baby popped up his head, hiding over his mother’s body. He watched as the rest of his companions shuffled their way into the water, his eyes telling me that he wanted to come and play too, but mum wouldn’t let him.

Again we frolicked in the ocean, my new sea lion buddies and I, like a bunch of toddlers high on too much sugar. It was without a doubt the most fun I have ever had, evident in the fact that my voice had uncontrollably transformed into a high pitched squeak that resembled a speaking mouse. It was worth the long and arduous fifteen hour round trip to get to this remote part of the world. But, even if I had to drive around the whole coast of Australia to play with my sea lion friends, I would do it in a heartbeat.

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