Skywalk, Sydney
IT was the perfect day to be standing 305 metres above the ground – bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. So why was my stomach churning?

I was about to go up Skywalk, Sydney’s newest tourist attraction on top of Centrepoint shopping centre in the heart of the city.

At a quarter of a mile high, it’s the same height as the Eiffel Tower, and, as my attempt to climb that two years ago was foiled by buckling legs and vertigo, I wondered how I’d fare today.

The Skywalk was opened in October last year by the Sydney Attractions Group, which also owns the Sydney Aquarium, OzTrek, and Oceanworld Manly. It’s basically an outdoor walk around the jutting perimeter of the city’s highest tower. While it may seem like an odd way to spend a Sunday morning, thousands of visitors have already braved it since it opened.

Tourism New South Wales regional director Russell Mills said: “The attraction allows guests a 360-degree view of the city. They ascend to the top of the tower in a lift and then step onto an outdoor glass platform that facilitates a walk around the building.”

Before being taken to the top, we were given a safety briefing and blue and yellow jumpsuits with harnessing cables to attach us to a rail that loops around the top of the tower.

“You are about to embark on one of the world’s most truly breathtaking adventures,” boomed the voice on the introductory safety video.

Our guide Sarah was chatty, bubbly and full of one-liners, quipping that the breath test for alcohol is the most stressful part – and judging by some of the looks in the group she might be right.

The lift takes us up to the observation deck, from where we walk up some stairs to get to the exit. I say exit because the Skywalk is literally outside and very much at the mercy of the elements.

My knees predictably buckled at the first step and I grabbed the railing around the edge. I was first in the group, and was conscious of holding everyone up as I nudged my way around, staying close to Sarah.

Once I regained my composure I managed to enjoy the breathtaking views across Sydney. We could see as far as the Blue Mountains, which are approximately 60 miles to the east.

We were then elevated to a higher level so we could reach the walkway above us and make our way around the tower. We headed in a southerly direction first, with views stretching out to Botany Bay and the airport, and Hyde Park below.

The Eastern Suburbs were next in view, with Bondi Beach, Mel Gibson’s pad at Woolloomooloo and Watson’s Bay all clearly visible.

The northern side is possibly the most spectacular as the view encompasses Sydney’s crowd pullers of the harbour, the Opera House and the Bridge.

And you know what? I started to enjoy it; so long as I didn’t look down.

The skyscrapers are tightly packed in and we were shown buildings featured in Mission Impossible II and The Matrix.

Round to the west, we could see Sydney’s entertainment district of Darling Harbour, plus the Olympic Stadium over at Home Bush. It’s only up here you can really appreciate the size of the city.

The finale is a three-inch thick glass floor which juts out about four feet from the walkway, allowing us to see straight down. I didn’t have the bottle and instead watched the others in my group as they edged out to be suspended over Sydney.

They loved it. There’s another glass platform on the northern side where we all finally headed for some time to gaze and a brief photo call.

I could have spent more time taking in the panoramic views, but unfortunately my stomach had other ideas.

 

The lowdown

How much?

There are three Skywalk tours to choose from: day, dusk or night. Day and night tours cost £45 for adults Monday to Thursdays (£35 for children between 10 and 15) and £54 Friday to Sunday (£39 for children). Dusk tours are £58 for adults and £44 for children.

How long?

Each Skywalk lasts an hour and a half.

Give it a go?

Skywalk is open to everyone over the age of 10. All ‘Skywalkers’ are breathalysed before they start and have to sign a health declaration form to say they don’t suffer from any medical conditions. The Skywalk is open to wheelchair users, but bookings must be made in advance, either by e-mail or over the phone.

 

Hotel check

Shangri-la Hotel, SydneyShangri-la Hotel, Sydney

Where is it?
In the heart of the Rocks district offering unrivalled views over the harbour bridge and Opera House and a 25-minute drive from Sydney Airport. 
5 / 5

What’s it like?
A five-star hotel spread over 36 floors with 18 room types. Standard rooms are bigger than average (430sq ft) and have separate hallways, enormous bathrooms and harbour views. The 2,605sq ft Royal Suite is the epitome of luxury.
4 / 5

Sleep tight?
A combination of jet lag and a bed from which you can see the harbour bridge, meant sleeping wasn’t high on the agenda. But I slept like a baby.
5 / 5

Eat in or out?
There’s a wealth of excellent restaurants in the area but do visit in-house restaurant, Altitude. It offers panoramic views and great food. Clients should dress up at the weekends if they don’t want to be rejected. Visit the hotel’s Blu Horizon Bar or Café Mix for international fare.  
4 / 5

Smiley service?
Very professional, albeit impersonal at times. 
3 / 5

Anything else?
There is a Roman-style heated pool and spa plus a gym. There are meeting rooms and a Horizon Lounge offering free breakfast, newspapers and, evening drinks and snacks for business guests.
4 / 5

Recommend it?
Its prime location makes it an ideal base.

Total rating: 25/30

Sample product: Quest Travel offers one night in a standard room from £75 per person twin-share before November 30.

On the web: Official site for Shangri-La Sydney