Following a five year hiatus, the trouble plagued Melbourne Star Observation Wheel (not Ferris Wheel) re-opened on the 23rd December 2013 to very little fanfare. During the course of my summer break I wandered down to Waterfront City on a warm and blustery day to take the wheel for a spin and a few days later once more on a warm, pleasant Melbourne evening.
Now I don't frequent Harbour Town often but I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people shopping, dining or meandering around the precinct which considering the amount of criticism Docklands attracts was fantastic to see.
What many may not realise is that an incarnation of the Melbourne Star (albeit proposed by a different consortium), called the 'Melbourne Eye' was once one of the short-listed proposals for the Sandridge Bridge across the Yarra. Originally intended to straddle the bridge itself, the wheel was later moved to the northbank of the Yarra parallel to Flinders Street Station. The bidding process eventually fell through with no successful bidder announced and Sandridge Bridge became the pedestrian and cycling thoroughfare we know today.
The reason I bring this up is personally I feel that Sandridge Bridge in terms of accessibility, way finding and the potential views it would have afforded would have made it a superior location. The Melbourne Star's 30 minute rotation includes a narrative of various local landmarks - the vast majority of which aren't visible from Docklands but can be viewed on the map you are provided with when you purchase your tickets.
I applaud the operators for attempting to provide a more interactive experience however I believe it is to the detriment of Harbour Town and Docklands as a whole - you have made the effort to visit Docklands but the voice in your cabin is essentially telling you to hightail it out of there and check out the MCG, Fed Square, the Queen Vic Market or a whole host of other CBD attractions for example. Once again I believe such a strategy would have made more sense had the wheel been built at Sandridge Bridge. In saying that aesthetically Melbourne Star is visually more interesting than what the 'Melbourne Eye' was proposed to be.
A general admission adult ticket @ $32 allows you a 30 minute ride on the wheel during the course of the day it was purchased but online GA tickets can be booked for any day of the week but not a specific time. For an additional $8 (total $40) you can purchase an encore flight which is valid for a period of 30 days from date of purchase, much better value for money if you intend on visiting again, possibly at night - which is exactly what I did.
The views over Docklands and towards the city are pretty amazing and I'm a sucker for shipping containers and port infrastructure, but the views north or west might not be everyone's cup of tea and this isn't likely to change until the E-Gate precinct gets underway or the Footscray skyline begins to mature.
While I enjoyed the experience, overall and think it's definitely worth checking out at least once (you can ignore all the negative media) yet I probably won't be taking a ride on the wheel again for sometime when for a fraction of the price I could go to the Eureka Skydeck, Vue de Monde/Lui Bar @ the Rialto or even the loos on level 35 of Sofitel. But enough talk, as always please enjoy the images below taken over the course of two days. Peace out.