My apartment in Melbourne was stunning. I was twenty three floors up looking across the recently renovated Victoria Harbour. The Harbour is the centrepiece of the Docklands precinct with several smart waterside bars and restaurants. Situated just a mile from the CBD and within the free zone on the city tramway system surrounded by water on three sides the location is perfect for a vacation stay to the city.
As well as the sporting Etihad Stadium the Docklands is also home to the Melbourne Star (previously known as the Southern Star) which is a giant Ferris Wheel or Giant Observational Wheel?
Their website describes the Melbourne Star as one of only four Giant Observation Wheels in the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. It is 120 m (394 feet) tall and has seven spokes, reflecting the seven-pointed star of the Australian flag. My research lists it as the joint sixth tallest Ferris Wheel in the world but I still struggle to understand the difference between a Giant Observation Wheel and a large Ferris Wheel!
The Star had some very difficult early years after opening for the first time two years behind schedule in December 2008 but it then had to close and was dismantled after just forty days because of structural defects. But with a replacement wheel manufactured and the original support structure and passenger cabins retained after several other delays, The Melbourne Star`reopened to the public to much fanfare in December 2013.
I was looking forward to riding the wheel both during the day and night and I was not disappointed. One complete rotation takes about 30 minutes and provided a spectacular and uninterrupted 360-degree views of up to 40 kilometres (25 mi) away, “encompassing the Docklands precinct, Melbourne’s CBD, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Mount Macedon, Arthur’s Seat and the Dandenong Ranges.”
My wife and I were fortunate to have the cabin or pod to ourselves as we watched the changing landscape below us. There were small boats coming in and out of the port and along the Yarra river, lines of vehicles along the highways, scenic gardens, bustling streets and the bright lights of the city. I even spotted a rooftop cinema with cars parking up for the evenings film presentation.
Our cabin was one of 21 spacious, air-conditioned cabins. There was plenty of room to walk around to take in the sights and an audio commentary gave us a brief introduction to the history and significance of the landmarks we were looking at. The glass cabins provided “floor-to-ceiling” views and were large enough to allow up to 20 passengers to walk around comfortably without any feeling of cabin movement or vibration. I felt completely comfortable and enjoyed the experience enormously.
My ticket entitled me to go back again for an evening ride. The lights of the city created a glittering spectacle outside our cabin window and a spectacular LED display transformed the wheel into a giant, glittering kaleidoscope of colour. With over five million different combinations the lights of the wheel were synchronised with the music coming through the audio system producing an all – round experience and delight for the senses. The view from my apartment balcony in the Docklands was equally stunning as I sat for a long time watching the colours changing on the wheel!
If you are in Melbourne I would seriously recommend you visit the Melbourne Star for an unusual and exciting alternative view of the city by day and night. I loved it!
Open: 7 days a week, 365 days a year
May to August 11am – 7pm daily
September to April11am – 10pm daily
Christmas Day and ANZAC Day 1pm – 10pm
Ticket sales close 45 minutes prior to advertised closing time
Last flight departs 30 minutes prior to advertised closing time
Facebook: Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
Address: Melbourne Star Observation Wheel,
101 Waterfront Way, Docklands VIC 3008, Australia
Nominated: UK Blog Awards 2017
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