Hammon Holdings, operators of Scenic World visitor attractions, have been awarded the contract to give Sydney’s Harbour Bridge climb a ‘game-changing’ makeover.
Sydney’s Harbour Bridge (known as the Coathanger), is an iconic landmark, famous the world over for its role in the city’s New Year’s Eve fireworks.
The bridge, which opened in 1932, links the northern and central parts of the city. It’s the widest and tallest steel-arch bridge in the world and scaling it is a global ‘must-experience’ activity.
Hammon Holdings, operators of Scenic World attractions, have won the bidding war to take charge of the Coathanger climbing experience, promising new climbs, storytelling and interactive technologies.
End of an era for BridgeClimb
BridgeClimb which pioneered the activity, has run the bucket-list attraction for twenty years. Now the New South Wales state government has called time, saying a fresh approach is needed for the bridge. New operators Hammon Holdings will take over in October.
“The government is excited to be ushering in a new chapter for what is one of Sydney’s, if not Australia’s, most iconic structures,” said a spokesperson for NSW Roads and Maritime Services. He said the change is a “game changing opportunity that will lead to both enhanced and new experiences”.
BridgeClimb was unsuccessful in its bid to win the new contract. Since opening in 1998, it has facilitated more than four million climbers from over 140 countries. Last year it brought in Aus$17 million in profit. The company is owned by Paul Cave (who came up with the original idea), Jack Cowin, Australian fast-food mogul and Brett Blundy, retail billionaire.
“It has been a privilege for us to make a hero of the bridge, and of every climber on every climb,” said Cave. “We will continue to create unforgettable memories until our final climber.” He pointed out that BridgeClimb has had “an unblemished safety record, without one serious injury in 20 years”.
More affordable and more accessible
13 firms, including Merlin Entertainment, Anytime Fitness and Ardent Leisure, took part in a bidding war for the 20-year contract. It’s a highly lucrative prize, currently bringing in around Aus$50 million (US$37 million) in annual turnover.
Scenic World promise they will make the attraction more affordable and more accessible. “Our vision is to recreate the people’s bridge,” said David Hammon, chief executive of Hammon Holdings. “We will be exploring ways to safely expand access to new areas of the Bridge, use innovative technology to bring the bridge to life, and make its history and connectivity a more central part of the experience.”
The company currently runs Scenic World visitor attractions that offer skyway, cableway, walkway and railway experiences at an attraction north of Sydney in the Blue Mountains.
No details have been revealed about plans to enhance the Bridge experience. However the company has shown innovation in its existing attractions, for example with glass topped carriages at the Scenic Railway, where passengers can choose the angle of incline of their seats to enhance the 52 degree descent.