Top of the World: Pylon Lookout


There’s a cheaper alternative to a bird’s eye view of Sydney Harbour that is probably equally as impressive as the Bridge Climb.

I say “probably” as I didn’t actually experience the Bridge Climb. $200-$350 for 2 hours of 1,000+ steps for Sydney’s acclaimed best view in town? Most expensive work out ever? Though intriguing, the Pylon Lookout was the affordable alternative. For $13, a comparable view awaits. If you’re a student (and possess your student ID), the bargain improves with $8.50 admission. To climb or not to climb… I chose the economical equivalent.

The Pylon Lookout stands at 292 feet (89 meters) overlooking the harbor, only 147 feet (45 meters) fewer than the Bridge Climb apex. Besides spectacular views, the Pylon Lookout has a gift shop and informative mini museum.

Actually, it may be surprising to hear that the construction of the pylons were an afterthought, not part of the original bridge design. This was an aesthetic improvement, meant to give the bridge a greater image of foundational stability and strength.  Structural integrity is best when visually represented, right? Forget the engineers’ thumbs up of approval! These concrete and granite structures appear as anchors for the iron arch, like four enduring bookends to a significant Sydney story. When looking at the silhouette of the Harbour Bridge, it’s difficult to visualize its existence without the pylons.

A sunset silhouette of the powerful pylon.

A sunset silhouette of the powerful pylon.

Though decorative in its intentions, the pylons proved useful, serving as a lookout (obviously), museum, exhibition center, traffic authority headquarters, ventilation system, and maintenance shed. During WWII the pylons even earned their battle scars when defensive anti-aircraft guns were installed.

My favorite use, however, occurred during the 1950s and 1960s when Yvonne Rentoul managed the exhibits. Mrs. Rentoul, who may be the cat’s meow of all crazy cat ladies south of the equator, maintained a cattery on the pylon rooftop, where she bred her famous “Pylon White Cats.” This feline feature included a merry-go-round (for the cats, of course) and a wishing well. These white cats guarded visitors’ wishes with their courageous claws and righteous whiskers. Two tickets to this attraction, please? Sounds like a purrfect time.


Okay, now that I’ve solidified my reputation as a cat lady…

To me (and my wallet), the Pylon Lookout is worth a visit. It is a structure that will truly make you feel on top of the world.

View of Sydney Opera House from Pylon Lookout

That beautiful Sydney Opera House

downtown Sydney & Circular Quay

Circular Quay and a downtown Sydney horizon

sailboats in Sydney Harbour

Happy sailboats in Sydney Harbour

Pylon Lookout panel signs

Pylon Lookout signs of yesteryear.

Learning at the Pylon Lookout museum.

Learning at the Pylon Lookout museum.

Flags of Australia and the UK waving proudly at the peak.

Flags of Australia and the UK waving proudly at the peak.

Greetings from the top of the world!

Greetings from the top of the world!

6 thoughts on “Top of the World: Pylon Lookout

  1. Beautiful views of Sydney Harbour…Such a wonderful time you and your “friend” had and so much to see and do. Nice looking couple also. And my Fathers namesake at that!!


    • Oh no! Sydney was amazing! I wish we had spent more time there – so much we missed out on! At first I didn’t think I’d care about visiting Sydney, but after a few days there, I can say that it’s one of the best places I’ve ever been! I hope you are able to make it there one day!


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