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Australia’s most famous bridge has a big birthday bash in Sydney

Sam King, March 17, 2022 6:30PM Kids News

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Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge turns 90 on Saturday and the Emerald City has a big party planned. Picture: Toby Zerna media_cameraSydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge turns 90 on Saturday and the Emerald City has a big party planned. Picture: Toby Zerna

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With 76 years of experience working on the Harbour Bridge between them, the Cerovac family have the best seats in the house to celebrate the Sydney landmark’s 90th birthday.

“We’ve got the best office view in the world,” said Goran Cerovac, the carpenter and team leader who works alongside his father, Mirko, and younger brother, Joseph.

“We feel so privileged to work together on such an iconic* structure,” Joseph said. “Coming up to its 90th birthday, there’s a lot of attention on the bridge, and we’re lucky to be a part of it.”

Now supervising a team of 25, Joseph still vividly ­remembers the day his family’s connection with the bridge first started.

Cerovac family Harbour Bridge media_cameraPictured on the Sydney Harbour Bridge this weeis the Cerovac family, brothers Joseph and Goran, and father Mirko, centre, who have all worked together on the bridge for over 20 years. Picture: Tim Hunter

“I was about to leave for school when I saw the job ad for Dad in the newspaper – I’m pretty sure it was The Daily Telegraph, actually,” he said.

“It was life-changing, that moment. It defined the rest of our working future.

“Dad’s been here for 29 years, Goran for 25 and I’m coming up on 22 now. That’s half of my lifetime.”

The Cerovacs understand the importance of taking care of such a treasured part of the city’s landscape.

“The whole world knows about the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s the first thing you think of when you think of Sydney,” Joseph said.

Goran said he loved working on the bridge, no matter the weather conditions.

“Even if there was a thunderstorm or a blizzard, I’d still happily come to work on this bridge,” Goran said.

The family’s connection to the bridge has long been nurtured*.

“We played a big part in the bridge’s 75th birthday, we were flag bearers for the ceremony,” Joseph said.

“It’s pretty cool being part of those milestones*, being able to say we worked on the bridge that’s been such a big part of the city for so long.”

Workers pose for photo during the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1930. media_cameraWorkers pose for photo during the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1930.

PARTY TIME

Boasting one of the world’s most famous harbours, Sydney loves showing off one of its best assets: the Harbour Bridge. So you can be sure that the bridge’s own birthday will be an occasion to remember.

The main program kicks off on the big day, Saturday 19 March, when locals and visitors can enjoy a host of fun activities around the harbour.

The stunning light display that started Thursday will continue for three more nights, with 50,000 brilliant LED pixels* illuminating* the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a storytelling tribute to the Gadigal and Cammeraygal people, bridge engineer John Bradfield and the bridge’s history. The light show runs for about 15 minutes and will run throughout each evening this weekend.

Whether you’re nine or 90, Campbells Cove is party central on Saturday. Sydney’s streets will be abuzz with bridge fun.

After a special Welcome to Country by Uncle Allen Madden, followed by a morning of nostalgic 1930s street games and magic tricks, musicians including Aria-award winners Tex Perkins, James Morrison and Christina Anu, along with the Bananas in Pyjamas and breakout indie star Jem Cassar-Daley will be onstage at Campbells Cove.

media_cameraSinger songwriter Jem Cassar-Daley has a special tribute planned for the Sydney Harbour Bridge birthday celebrations and will perform at 7:30pm at Campobells Cove. Picture: NCA

The carnival atmosphere will include performers, caricature* artists and musicians entertaining crowds outside train stations, in marketplaces and on busy street corners.

Naturally the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be the star of the show, with vintage trains, buses and bicycles crossing the bridge in an early morning birthday salute at 8:30am.

Follow up with the Pylon Lookout and Museum in the southeast pylon of the bridge, which holds fascinating artefacts* detailing the lives of the workers who built the bridge through the Depression* and into the early 1930s. Tickets to enter the Pylon Lookout and Museum on Saturday are limited and must be booked in advance.

And a gold coin donation for each member of the family will get you aboard a historic tall ship, sailing the harbour like they did in the 1930s. Sydney Tall Ships will have two cruises departing on Saturday.

More information and all booking information can be found at the Transport NSW website.

MARCH 2002 : Sydney Harbour Bridge history showing construction from 1926 to 1931. NSW media_cameraDifferent stages of construction through the years – while the illustration shows progress by 1928, construction began two years earlier in 1926.

SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE FAST FACTS

  • Today, locals call the bridge the “Coathanger” because of its design, but in the 1930s, it was nicknamed the “Iron Lung” because it breathed life into the city’s economy and provided work during the Depression
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s heaviest steel-arch bridge
  • The groundbreaking infrastructure was the work of visionary engineer John Bradfield (1867-1943)
  • About 53,000 tonnes of steel were used in construction
  • Sydney Harbour is so deep that temporary supports were not used in the bridge’s construction. Instead, the bridge was built starting from both sides until they met in the middle – an extraordinary feat of design and engineering
1920s : Arch rises from Kirribilli in late 1920s, one of series of photographs taken by Milson's Point resident Lorna Bennetts, now 82 of construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge & supplied to Daily Telegraph in 08/01. Historical NSW / Industry media_cameraThe northern arch rises from Kirribilli in the direction of the CBD in the late 1920s. Picture: Lorna Bennetts
  • Sixteen lives were lost during the dangerous build
  • Its total length is about 1149m and the top of the bridge stands 134m above the harbour
  • It supports eight lanes of traffic, two rail lines, a cycleway and a walkway
  • The bridge took eight years and the labour of 1400 men to complete
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge officially opened to great fanfare on March 19, 1932
  • Around one million people crossed the bridge that day on trains, trams, cars, on foot and on horses
***MUST CREDIT RTA ARCHIVES*** MARCH 19, 1932 : The crowd watches the official parade on the opening day of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 19/03/32. pic RTA. NSW Historical  Picture: Supplied media_cameraA huge crowd watched the official parade at the opening day of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Picture: RTA archives
  • Since then, it has been the centrepiece of Sydney’s world famous New Year’s Eve celebrations and has become a much-loved symbol of Australia
  • The bridge was the backdrop for the Walk for Reconciliation* in 2000, which together with similar events around the nation was the biggest ever demonstration of support for a cause in Australia
  • More than 200,000 vehicles cross over the Sydney Harbour Bridge every day

GLOSSARY

  • iconic: something important and impressive, very symbolic of something
  • nurtured: cared for, cultivated, developed and protected
  • milestone: an important event in the history or development of someone or something
  • pixel: smallest unit of an image, often used to measure or describe image clarity
  • illuminating: lighting up, brightening, casting light
  • caricature: exaggerated drawing, description of someone’s character and appearance
  • artefacts: objects of cultural and historical interest and importance
  • Depression: worldwide economic crisis that began in 1929 and through the 1930s
  • reconciliation: national commitment to strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples for the benefit of all Australians

EXTRA READING

At work with a Sydney Harbour Bridge climber

World’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens

Reimagining the Sydney Harbour Bridge

QUICK QUIZ

  1. How old is the Sydney Harbour Bridge this Saturday?
  2. How long has Mirko Cerovacs worked on the bridge?
  3. How many men worked on its construction and how many lives were lost?
  4. What is the length of the bridge and how high above the harbour does it reach?
  5. What was the bridge nicknamed in the 1930s and why?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Travel back in time
Imagine that it is the opening day of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. You are one of the million people who walked across the bridge. Write a diary entry describing the celebrations and how it felt to be part of it.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; History

2. Extension
“It was life-changing, that moment.” Write a story that starts with this sentence.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

VCOP ACTIVITY
1. Summarise the article
A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.

Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.

Extra Reading in history