The Power of Persistence: The Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb

Sydney Harbor Bridge at Sunset

Sydney Harbor Bridge at Sunset

The balcony of my third floor apartment was so close to Sydney Harbor that with a running start from the living room I could plant my foot on the rail and  dive into the murky waters below. Directly across was the Opera House and to my right was the Sydney Harbor Bridge, affectionately known as “The Coat Hangar.”

I spent two months in this apartment while working on a project for ING Bank in Sydney. And when I sat on the balcony I often observed something unusual–tourists climbing the arch of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

From my vantage point I could see groups of people, roped together and wearing utilitarian jumpsuits working their way across the arch of the bridge to the other side. They’d be there during the day and even some nights. To a guy from Seattle it was akin to watching tourists bungee jump off the Space Needle.

I found out that there was an unusual story behind those ant like creatures on the bridge. A story of persistence and faith. I learned that a local entrepreneur named Paul Cave had climbed the bridge by special permission as part of an international business convention. Paul had a unusual tie to the history of the bridge. On the day it opened in 1932 a young boy had waited in line to be on the first train to cross the bridge. That lad bought ticket number 00001 Years later he gave it to his son-in-law, Paul Cave.

Paul loved his bridge climb experience so much that he came up with a plan to turn it into a regular tourist attraction. He recruited partners, raised millions of dollars in startup funding, and petitioned local government agencies–only to be denied. Issues ranging from the danger of dropping items onto passing cars below to falling tourists were used to deny his petition. For nine years Paul worked with, cajoled, and even sued government agencies in his efforts to open the Coat Hangar to tourist climbers. At times even his partners told him to give it up as a bad idea and move on.

Finally in 1998 Paul got final approval and the Bridge Climb opened as a business. It now grosses $50 million (AUD) per year and as of April 2013, three million climbers had made the trip. A BBCbucket list named the Bridge Climb as one of the “50 Things to do before you die.”

So when you’re ready to give up on something ask yourself, “Am I willing to persist to see my dream through?” Whether it’s a book, a business, or another vision you’ve had, do you have the perseverance and patience of a Paul Cave?

And no, a bungee jumping attraction from the top deck of the Space Needle is not my dream.

QUESTION: What dream do you have is worthy of faith and perseverance?

Bridge at Dusk

Bridge at Dusk


About Dennis

Author of The Last Apostle. Teller of Almost True Stories of Life and former Air Force officer. Write for the love of the story. Sometimes speak for food.
This entry was posted in Leadership, The Power of Story, Travels of The Road Warrior and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Power of Persistence: The Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb

  1. Avis Cawley says:

    Dennis,  it is possible that the Holy Spirit sent this to me at this time for a specific reason. Thank you Avis

  2. Nice story, Dennis. Thanks for sharing – I had never heard of this. Nor how it came to be.

  3. Debbie Austin says:

    As a person who has a fear of heights, the mere idea of roping myself to other people and climbing that arch makes me shudder. Needless to say this is not on my bucket list. Still, I can appreciate and apply the question to my own dream without experiencing Paul Cave’s. Thanks for this story of perseverance and faith.

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