On this day, 19 March in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened, after some 20 long years of planning, 8 gruelling years of building and reportedly 56 years to pay off. The Bridge opened up the northern side of Sydney to development and was a symbolic achievement for our nation during a time of hardship. The Bridge has come to be a globally-recognised icon of our nation and centrepiece for New Year's Eve celebrations.
On the opening day, before NSW Labor Premier Jack Lang could cut the ribbon, Captain Francis de Groot – an active member of a strongly pro-monarchy political party, the New Guard – rode forward on his horse and slashed the ribbon with his sword. He and his party believed that the bridge should be opened by a Royal family member or the Governor General, the King’s representative in Australia instead.
As he slashed the ribbon, Captain de Groot declared the bridge open in the name of “the decent and respectable people of NSW”.
After de Groot was arrested and taken away – charged with offensive behaviour in a public place and fined five pounds – Premier Lang arrived to give the re-tied ribbon the official cut.
Celebrate this day of great advancement and achievement for the city of Sydney, NSW and Australia by:
- walking this majestic bridge of Sydney Harbour
- driving it instead of taking the tunnel
- picking out a vantage point to marvel at this icon and signature of Australian nationhood
- pondering the challenge and enormity of this engineering feat
- honouring the bravery and toughness of the Depression-era workers, 16 of which died during construction (but only two from actually falling off the bridge), and/or
- sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family and friends.