Head for heights, and also full of memories
By BRIAN BIGG
WHEN Sydney's Harbour Bridge turns 75 on Monday Ballina resident Kim Wilson will have a tear or two.
For three years from 2003 the 'Coathanger' was her office, and few people in the Northern Rivers know as much about the bridge as Kim.
She was a climb leader for Bridge Climb, which takes tourists on a lungbusting climb to the top of the bridge span where the views of the harbour and the city are unrivalled.
"I was worried I might not be able to handle the height, but once I got up there I was fine," she said.
Every day, Kim underwent an alcohol breath test before dressing in a special suit and harness to guide groups of up to 12 at a time on 'the climb of their life', which can be daunting.
"There is one section of the climb where you are 45 metres above sea level, and you're standing on a mesh platform, so you can see straight down. Some people are really overcome."
Kim said the bridge climb had become popular for marriage proposals.
"Sometimes a man would tell me on the quiet he was planning to propose, so my job would be to move the rest of the group so he could have a bit of privacy," she said.
Sometimes the elements make the climb an endurance test, but it's only called off if there are galeforce winds or lightning.
"It is tiring. You cover about 3000 steps a day and answer questions continually for seven hours," Kim said. She also became an expert on bridge facts, such as how long it took to construct (seven years).