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Fragments 28

The Cats of Sydney Harbour Bridge


White cat, Pylon Lookout, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia, 1950s

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Sydney Harbour Bridge, Pylon Lookout brochure from circa 1963

Strange as it may seem, at one time there were cats living on Australia's famous landmark, the Sydney Harbour Bridge! Opened in 1932, the bridge has pylons at each end that were actually added as an afterthought, for aesthetic reasons and to reassure the public about the bridge's safety; they have no structural purpose.

In 1934 the south-east pylon was opened as a museum, with various tourist attractions; it was closed during WW2, but afterwards was reopened with further features. From about 1950 until 1971 the Pylon Lookout was managed by one Yvonne Rentoul; it included a tearoom, a post office, a souvenir shop, an 'All Australian Exhibition' of Australia's achievements — and a family of white cats!

They guarded a wishing well at the Lookout Point, and had their own merry-go-round — see the vintage brochure (left and enlargement from thumbnail below). They were accommodated in a rooftop cattery and became famous as one of the pylon's attractions. Photos are quite scarce, but there is one on display at the museum (still open but sadly without cats).

In 1953, when the bridge 'came of age' on its 21st birthday, the Portland Guardian carried quite a lengthy article about it, and at that time it seems from this brief mention that there were only two cats: 'On the roof of the pylon is Australia's highest roof-garden ... Two white cats, Sydney and Bridget, also live on the roof. They have never been to the ground.' Two years earlier the Sunday Herald had named them as Pylon and Bridget (see the Trove link below for article with photo).

Sydney Harbour Bridge: enlargements and extract from the Pylon Lookout brochure, ca 1963 - click to enlarge One of the white cats on the parapet of the Pylon Lookout, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia - click to enlarge Image of white cat on display at Pylon Lookout museum, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia - click to enlarge Visitor to Pylon Lookout, Sydney Harbour Bridge, holds one of the white cats in 1957 - click to enlarge


We acknowledge and thank the following: Paul Clifton at Flickr for the Pylon Lookout brochure, As The Bird Flies blog for the image from the museum, and the Bound for Australia blog for the lady photographed in 1957 with a cat – take the links to see them full-sized.

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Our featured feline at the head of the page, and your companion through Feline Fragments, is Maggie. She came as a kitten from Powys Cat Rescue. One of their volunteers had seen her wandering around, apparently uncared for, and thought her rather young to be just left to roam. The person 'responsible' for her said she 'didn't care', and so the youngster was taken in for rehoming. Only about 4 months old when I brought her home in 2003, she was a self-assured soul, probably because of her early experience, and was soon climbing all the available trees in the garden. She was a determined hunter in her earlier days, and was usually outside, but now prefers snoozing unless the weather is good. She has superb whiskers — and as the photo shows, loves getting into things! (see it here without the puzzle effect)

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