Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bridge Climb

I came, I saw, I climbed!

The Story Bridge Climb is now open.
When I was a Roving Reporter for Radio 612 ABC, one story involved climbing the Story Bridge, to see how it was painted. After a few phone calls to City Hall, permission was finally granted on the basis that a) I was not to ask people to "look up and wave to me" for fear of a car accident in early morning traffic rush-hour, and b) I was all care, no responsibility - in other words, look out for myself!
As usual, I was in the Studio around 5.30am, to say good morning to Peter Dick, and to grab my phone and spare batteries. The last thing you need is a flat battery, after this effort, and believe me, it was going to be an effort. My phone pack, weighed around 5 kgs. In one of the phone calls to the Supervisor in charge, he suggests I use a mini crane to "get up to the first row - don't worry, the previous Mayor also used it when she climbed too" which immediately puts me right off the suggestion.
I shall climb it myself, I announce proudly. Foolishly.
I park at the end of the Bridge, a tricky tight corner where my 4wd barely manages to sit, and I meet the two blokes who are to escort me up the Bridge. It's now 6am, perhaps we can make the first 'cross' at 6.20am, after the news and a song?
We walk along the pavement, to where we are to climb. "Up you go Patty" the men suggest, and I look blankly at them.
Where? Where is the staircase I had imagined? Where was the enclosed ladder I thought we would be using? As it was, I had to begin to climb hand over hand up this giant Meccano set, with the bridge supports at 45 degree angles. Making very sure my feet don't slip, I mutter to myself "I am a mother of two small children" and will myself not to die today. I shove the phone pack to my left hip, and begin to climb.
"And you will die!" the men say cheerily, "If you fall, you will hit your head on the supports, and if that doesn't kill you, a car will run over you, and if that doesn't kill you, you will drown in the river!"
Hmmm....I climb very purposely, carefully, up, up, we must be nearly there surely? My hands are aching and sore from gripping the cold steel, and I am shaking - whether it's from fear or the cold, I'm not sure, but I am shaking!
When I also mention this to the blokes, they laugh and say "Oh yes, and the whole Bridge shakes too, in fact, if it stops shaking, run like hell!"
We do the first cross halfway up, I sound breathless and scared but excited, and I am. My arms are wrapped around the steel girders, and I have to also interview one of the men and hold the microphone under his mouth. So one hand around the Bridge, one hand with the microphone shaking with fear as we go to air. Cars immediately start beeping and honking, it's amazing how many people are listening. (In those days, Breakfast used to rate 22% which has never been beaten, or equalled. Now they rate around 9 -11%)
The noise from the cars, trucks and buses fills my head. When we reach halfway, the men tell me to go through a trapdoor hole. It's very tricky, as I have to manoeuvre myself to climb forward, then reach backwards and then stand up. My legs are jelly, and I am out of breath, but the worst is now over. The rest is an easy doddle up using a proper staircase, to the highest point.
The view is spectacular, in fact I can see my suburb and imagine my sleeping kids and hubby, still fast asleep. It's now about 6.45am and we have time to kill before our next 'live cross' in half an hour, so we chat, and take photos, and watch the traffic, the faces of the drivers just recognizable as they wind their way into the city.

Going to air for the second 'cross' a listener rings in to tell me she can see my through her binoculars in her home at Newfarm. Really? I wonder for an instant about my lipstick, but soon smile and wave to her, somewhere in the distance. Coming down was a whole new ballgame, as we did everything in reverse, including the tricky trapdoor opening.
The traffic was flowing north to south, the river was flowing east to west, and passenger ferries travelled in both directions. My head was spinning. Whoa!
I take my time and don't rush anything, this is when mistakes happen. Left foot, placed. Right foot, placed. Hands, hands, left foot, placed. Right foot, placed, and so on, all the way down.
Made it! The relief is palatable. I drive home on a natural high, for breakfast and a cuppa, before making my way back to the Studio to recharge the phone and see how the Show went. By the time I get home, hubby and kids have left for school, so I sit there and think about the day, think about the Bridge, and make myself another cuppa.

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