Sydney, Australia: Day Four, Morning at the Sydney Tower

by Julie Royce /
Julie Royce's picture
Feb 04, 2010 / 0 comments

Before heading out for our final full day in Sydney, Bob and I debated how to spend our short remaining time. I suggested the New South Wales Art Gallery, the Australian Museum, St. Andrews' Cathedral, the Sydney Aquarium, and the Sydney Tower.  I marked these on a map – in the order that made the most sense.  Bob vetoed the museum, art gallery, and aquarium. 

“But, that only leaves us the Tower and St. Andrews.  We'll be done in no time,” I protested.

“Then we can add the others as time permits,” he replied.   

“But that means all that backtracking....” I stopped myself short, thinking I needed the exercise so a few extra steps wouldn't kill me, and, after all, we were on vacation. I needed to lighten up. As we prepared to leave I asked Bob, “Did you catch the weather forecast?”

“No,” he replied, pulling back the drapes and relying on the most common method known to weather forecasters:  He looked at the sky.  “It's overcast and more people are walking about in short sleeved shirts than jackets.” I grabbed an umbrella to be safe.


Sydney Tower. WIkimedia Commons: Ingolfson

Sydney Tower.  WIkimedia Commons: Ingolfson


The Sydney Tower is the tallest building in Sydney, so we followed our view of its easily recognized Skywalk until we stood in front of a building with a posted sign announcing, “Sydney Tower this way.”  We walked inside and began a surrealistic journey through corridors, around construction (complete with jackhammer noise pollution), down dimly lit hallways, up an escalator to an elevator that plopped us in front of a ticket desk. Our perseverance was rewarded as a young woman asked which package we wanted.  How was I to know?  “Can you tell me about them?” I asked.

Fortunately, there was no one else in line and she demonstrated the utmost patience.  “Well for $25. you get the observation deck and a movie, or you can upgrade to $39 and experience the high platform where you will put on a harness…...”

“Stop.” I ordered.  “I'm not doing anything that requires a harness.” 

“They describe it ‘like walking on air’,” she continued in spite of my clear directive. 

I would describe it as flirting with death, but I didn't tell her that.  I have a dread of heights and edges and I wasn't about to try anything that strapped me into a contraption designed to prevent me from plummeting 80 stories to the ground.  The young woman realized there was no use arguing, and punched out our tickets. We were on our way, totally ignorant to what lay ahead.

The first step was going through security - exactly like airlines, except that afterwards the guard wished us a good day - something no airline checker has ever done, and I was allowed to keep my opened bottle of water.

We stepped off the elevator to the most amazing 360 degree views of Sydney I could have imagined.  Even on a cloudy day it was indescribable as we looked down on the skyscrapers surrounding us.

I don't quite understand why I can sit on a ledge in front of a solid glass wall and look down a thousand or so feet without suffering heart palpations, but take away that glass and I can't get within 20 yards of the edge, not for a king’s ransom.

We meandered the securely enclosed observation decks and enjoyed breakfast overlooking the city and picking out places we had visited.  As we ate, a harnessed window washer dropped down with his squeegee.  His job makes my list of the Ten Worst Ways to Earn a Living.

The observation deck had such powerful telescopes that I'm sure, if you had enough patience, you would eventually catch office workers in nearby buildings doing dirty stuff. Or, you might be able to see the priest giving mass in nearby St. Mary's. When I mentioned these thoughts to Bob he developed a new interest in the telescope. I had no idea he had such interest in Catholic rituals. 

At this point we thought we were done with the Tower Experience, but we had forgotten the promised film. We were directed into a theatre where we viewed a series of life-like films showcasing Australia’s many attractions as our chairs rotated from screen to screen. When we were absolutely positive the Tower Experience was over, we found ourselves in yet another theatre, strapped to seats, surrounded by three movie screens and jostled like crazy to simulate a variety of experiences including walking on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It was much better than the real thing because I couldn't drop to my death. After all of that motion I was sorry I hadn't worn a transderm scop motion sickness patch because I left the building, and ended our morning, a bit green.




Don't miss the other articles in this series:

Sydney: Days One and Two

Sydney: Day Three

Sydney: Day Four, Afternoon


Julie Albrecht Royce, Travel Adventures Editor, is the author of Traveling Michigan's Sunset Coast and Traveling Michigan's Thumb, both published by Thunder Bay Press. She writes a monthly column for





All photos courtesy and copyright Robert Royce.