DPA, November 3, 2011
Thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow, the swashbuckler that heartthrob Johnny Depp plays in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, visitors to Sydney are queuing to clamber up the mast of a 1922 wooden sailing ship that plies the tourist trade under the famous harbour bridge.
The crow's nest on the Southern Swan is only 15 metres above deck but the perch offers splendid views of one of the world's most-loved waterways.
David Warne, who bought the 200-ton former Danish lugger five years ago and turned it into an attraction, reckons the mast-climb can be a life-changing experience.
The former butcher began offering the climb as an extra on harbour cruises aboard the South Swan in October. He claims it to be the only commercially available mast climb anywhere in the world.
The Jack Sparrow theme is continued through the costumes of the crew and a bit of harmless sword fighting. There's a fiddle band aboard as well.
The Southern Swan is moored at Campbell's Cove, the Rocks, in sight of the bridge and the Opera House. It is where many migrants from the Old World stepped ashore to settle the wide, brown land. Some would have been barefoot, like the crew aboard the Southern Swan.
Sydney tourism operators have been keen to offer visitors something else to climb following the amazing success of hikes across the harbour bridge.
Bridgeclimb has had more than 2 million paying customers since opening for business in 1998. The Centrepoint Tower, which stands 309 metres, reckons to offer the best views of Sydney. But there is no actual climbing; access is by eardrum-popping lift instead.