A visit to the Sydney Harbour Pylon Lookout
Have you heard of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout and museum? Well, if not, read on because I believe a visit to this iconic Sydney lookout is the best way to get a bird’s-eye view of the city.
When it opened in 1934, the Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout provided the finest view of the harbour that Sydneysiders had ever seen. Sitting at the top of the granite covered southeast pylon on the southeast side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this original Sydney lookout offers 360-degree views over the city.
It also houses a museum detailing the story of the bridge and the people who made it happen, from the engineers and designers to the workers who risked their lives every day during the nine years it took to build.
After a brief history lesson, over 2 levels in the small museum you emerge on the top floor and are rewarded with a vista that has been impressing guests for over 80 years.
Some people consider the Pylon Lookout to be the poor cousin of the Bridgeclimb, but I beg to differ. I think it is one of our most underrated attractions. Both are worth a visit, but if your budget doesn’t stretch to the big climb, do not fret; the Pylon Lookout has lots to offer.
Pylon Lookout vs Bridge Climb
5 Ways the Pylon Museum gives the Bridgeclimb a run for its money.
- You can bring your camera to the lookout – and get some pretty amazing shots. Unfortunately, due to the safety of the motorists below, you can not take a camera on the Bridgeclimb.
- It costs less than 1/10th of the fantastic but budget squeezing bridge climb.
- You can take young kids. However, children under eight years are not allowed to climb the bridge.
- You don’t need to book in advance – so wet weather days can be rescheduled.
- There are fewer stairs than the Bridgeclimb and more places to sit and rest along the way, making it suitable for almost everyone.
A photo guide to the Sydney Harbour Pylon Lookout
The 12 photos here will give you an idea of what to expect on your visit.
You enter from the Pylon at the Rocks end of the bridge on Cumberland Street. Now the stair climbing begins 🙂 a couple of flights of stairs here will take you to the pedestrian walkway on the bridge. A few hundred metres along the walkway brings you to the lookout entrance.
The sign warns you of 200 steps (no lift) but don’t worry they are broken up into just a couple of flights at a time. There are lots of things to look at on each level, giving you breathing time between flights. I would class it as suitable for almost everyone without significant health issues. Unfortunately, there is no disabled access.
Once inside, its two short flights to reach the first level.
On level 1, you will find the ticket counter and some models showing some techniques employed in building the bridge.
Next to the ticket office is a video that gives lots more detail on the bridge’s construction. I have to admit I didn’t watch the whole thing, but it had some great old photos. The major highlight in this room is the stained glass windows. These serve as a memorial to those who worked on the bridge.
After another set of stairs, you reach level 2 where there are more very well placed information boards providing an excuse to stop and rest if you need to, no one will realise you are not super fit 😉
Just one more floor and you are at the top.
There is a small indoor area here that features some more information about the construction and history of the bridge.
Finally, you reach the top!
There is a walkway that runs right around the pylon, allowing you to get a magnificent view of The Rocks and the western side of the harbour.
The view to the south-west with the Anzac Bridge in the distance.
The Southwestern pylon is home to a traffic control centre.
The view to the south over The Rocks and Circular Quay.
You can stay up here as long as you like. The ferries and other boats crisscrossing the water make for some exciting photos.
If you have friends climbing the bridge and are not joining them, this is a brilliant spot to watch all the action.
My only wish is that the lookout stayed open later. Sadly, it currently closes at 3pm, so your only chance for some golden hour photos is in the middle of winter.
Pylon Lookout ticket cost: $19 Adults, $15 students and seniors, $8.50 for kids (5-12 yrs)
Opening Hours: Open every day during the NSW School Holidays (26 June – 11 July) from 10am to 2pm.
Before or after you visit the Sydney Harbour Pylon Lookout, I suggest you walk across the Harbour Bridge.
I like to start at Milson’s Point, walking towards the city with the view in front of me. However, you can also walk towards North Sydney and take the train or ferry back to Circular Quay. You might also like to explore Lavender Bay and Wendy’s Secret Garden while you are there.
Once you are finished at the pylon, take a stroll around the Rocks on a self-guided walk.
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