"It's the bridge of our dreams, purchased by the coins of our people which has paid us back a hundredfold in its strength and its massive grace."
 
Centrepiece
 
Kevin Airs, a Sydney resident who attended the celebrations, told al Jazeera: "When Sydney parties, it's the inclusion of the bridge into any celebrations that mark out events as being that little bit special.
 
"The New Year's Eve fireworks, for example, just wouldn't be the same without the bridge being the centrepiece."
 
Unlike the official opening ceremony in 1932 - when a soldier charged through the crowd on horseback to cut the ribbon, depriving the NSW premier of the honour, in protest that a royal guest had not been invited to officiate - Bashir's was unhindered.
 
"It was lovely - a moment in history," she said after snipping the tape.
 
'Iron lung'
 
Bashir said it was also important that another wrong was put to right - that the 16 workmen who died during construction of the bridge were remembered in this year's official proceedings.
 
A plaque was unveiled on Sunday in memory of those who were not mentioned during the 1932 opening.
 
"What is really most important is ... we remember those who lost their lives," Bashir said.
 
The bridge was a major engineering achievement and, during the seven years it took to build, it provided much needed employment to many Australian men during the depression, earning it the nickname of the 'iron lung'.
 
'A kindly uncle'
 
Malcolm Turnbull, the environment minister, who Sunday named the bridge as a national heritage item which cannot be altered, said the steel-arched structure was a reminder of the nation's strength in the face of adversity.
 
"The bridge was completed right in the middle of Australia's darkest days," Turnbull said.
 
"Australia had been bled dry by the First World War [and] flattened by the Great Depression."
 
When the bridge opened in 1932 most Sydneysiders walked across the bridge which finally joined two halves of the city together.
 
Bruce Bobbington, 79, said: "I can remember the crowd of people, I can remember the elation of it all, because there was a lot of publicity around and all the adults were talking about it."
 
Airs said: "The bridge is more than just an international icon and world famous landmark.
 
"It's like a kindly uncle, looking down on the city, defining its identity, separating rival areas but also bringing them together."