Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bridge Spotting for Beginners

You've heard of train spotters, but did you know that there were bridge nerds as well? Actually, I am making an assumption here, but my unexpected look behind the scenes of Pyrmont Bridge, apparently "the world's oldest electric swingspan bridge" leads me to believe that there are probably people (of the male persuasion) around who do this all the time. I digress.

When the Mermaid and I went for a drink at Darling Harbour, I mentioned that according to the Australian (my friend, not the newspaper) Pyrmont bridge opened in the middle, but I had my doubts as a) I had never seen it in all of my 11 weeks in Sydney and b) hello? Monorail track right on top of it? Obviously I had a typical vertical kind of opening in mind, not having heard of "swingspan bridges" before.

The day after our conversation we crossed said bridge on the way to the monthly Growers' Market in Pyrmont and halfway across the bridge saw an old man in "uniform" fiddle with a lock near the bridge's railing. "Let's ask him if the bridge opens", the Mermaid said and walked off into his direction. "Nah, let's not," I said, feeling slightly embarrassed. In the end he turned out to be happy and flattered that those two tourists displayed such an interest in the bridge's mechanisms and invited us up onto the little hut in the middle of the bridge and into his realm of interesting machinery:

I was actually reminded of the old trams we had in Vienna:
He also invited us to watch the opening at 10:30 from up there but we passed and just watched it from outside the Maritime Museum. This is what a swingspan bridge looks like when it opens...tadah:
aaaand: opened completely!
Pretty impressive, huh? I asked what happened when the electricity failed and Mr. Bridge man actually said that you could open it manually as well, but it took 4 (? if I remember correctly) men or so and their combined forces.


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