I love the Story Bridge, it is my favourite bridge in Brisbane. I especially love Riverfire, a big event as pert of the annual Brisbane festival where they have a big firework display along the river and shoot fireworks off the bridge!
It’s also my local bridge, the one I travel over when I’m close to home, or off to the motorway to head down to the coast for fun times.
I roped in Esther to climb the bridge with me – it didn’t take much convincing though, which was good.
The Story Bridge Adventure Experience company runs trips climbing the bridge, abseiling of it etc. all through the day and into the night.
We chose to do a twilight climb, which worked out perfectly.
The evening was the perfect temperature, the skies were clear and spirits were high.
A Brief History Lesson…
The bridge was named the Jubilee Bridge during construction, but was renamed on opening to the Story Bridge after John Douglas Story, a public servant.
Almost 97,000 cars cross the 6 lanes of the bridge every day, with it being one of the main commuter bridges into the city.
The summit is approximately 80m above sea level and higher that the Gateway Bridge – which I was surprised by as it certainly feels a lot higher when you go over it.
Amazingly only 3 men died in the construction of the bridge. Given the time and the hazardous work/location that is pretty good going.
The bridge was constructed using 1.25 million nuts and bolts; however, as so many were dropped from the bridge or were damaged they actually had to manufacture 1.5 million! That’s a whole lotta bolts! The foundations also run to 40m depth on the southern side, which required the use of pneumatic caissons under 4 atmospheres of pressure, which in the 1930s was highly risky work.
The bridge also has to be repainted for protection and it takes 7 years to paint the bridge – so it’s almost constantly being painted!
Everyone has to be bretho’d before they can start – which seems pretty sensible. Including a 14 year old girl, which amused her father.
We then got kitted out in our climbing gear –I’ve never felt more like Anika Rice in my life!
You wear super funky jump suits, then you have your “utility belt” that fixes onto the rails to secure you on to the bridge.
You get a radio headset – very star trek style, as it doesn’t cover your ears, just sits on the bone in front of your ears instead.
You’re not allowed to take any loose items, so glasses have to be strapped on and even my bobby pins were removed!
You also get a wet weather jacket strapped onto your belt – it had everything.
By the time you’re ready to go you’re quite laden down, and raring to go!
To get from the activity centre up on to the bridge you first climb a spiral staircase, which takes you up about 3 stories. There’s then a horizontal platform that runs directly under the road – at this point you clip on to the guidelines.
The stairs and walk ways are all grated, I assume to deal with water runoff. However, for a person that isn’t great with heights I was a bit nervous about looking down.
Through the walkway section you can see straight down to the ground below and can feel the vibration of the road traffic overhead, it’s a little bit shaky, but not too bad.
We walked up the south-eastern stairs and emerged above the road. The first set of steps, which takes you up through the road section, is fairly dark, so it’s quite impressive when you emerge and can see the view. I felt like a meerkat sticking my head up out of a hole.
We climbed to the top of the bridge whilst it was still light. From the top the views are brilliant. You can see out east to the airport and the islands. I could almost see my apartment building! To the west you are looking straight at the CBD with Mt Coo-tha behind. To the north all you really see is the valley (less exciting) but you can actually see some of the glasshouse mountains! We were lucky it was so clear! To the south the suburbs just open up before you and you see all the way out to Mt Gravatt and across to Lamington National Park.
Many of the others in the group were tourists and so the guide pointed out landmarks. I loved doing this a local as I think you get more out of identifying all the places you know and love. Also as I fly in and out every week I know where most things are aerially so it was pretty easy to pick everything out.
You pose for cheesy photos and then head down the stairs towards the centre of the bridge. By this point you’re actually over the water, which feels slightly strange.
Although I was initially super nervous about the height it didn’t bother me at all. You feel really secure and it just doesn’t seem all that high. I also think it helps that this is a bridge I’m used to driving or jogging over and that you get distracted by the views.
At the centre point of the bridge you cross over to the northern side, walking across a central support, right above the cars. I stopped in the middle to look down and watch the cars zipping by underneath, which was very cool. By the time the sun was setting behind the CBD and the sky was a wonderful orange colour.
We then walked back up to the top and stopped to admire the twilight views. The lights of the city had turned on and the sun was low and red in the background. The bridge itself is lit with lights that can change colour. They’re set different colours for events or festivals, such as green and gold for Australian sports matches. That day was the Greek festival, so the lights were blue and white.
We got another cheesy photo and started to head down back towards the climb centre.
The whole experience was around 2 ½ hours and I think we picked the perfect time of day and the perfect time of year to do it.
All in all we climbed over 1000 stairs over approximately 1km! Go us! We then celebrated with tapas and cocktails at a wonderful local restaurant with a friendly possum named Patricia… a great Saturday night out.
I’m so glad I did this!