Melbourne’s newest attraction is open for business, the 120 metre high Melbourne Star Observation Wheel which takes inspiration from its bigger cousins in London (London Eye), Singapore (Singapore Flyer) and the Las Vegas Flyer. Offering views of the Melbourne Skyline, Port Philip Bay, the Port of Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs, the controversial Melbourne Star Observation Wheel has now been in full operation for over 6 months, this being the second time it has opened.
Originally opening as the Southern Star Observation Wheel back in 2008, the wheel shut down operations after only 40 days when a heat wave hit Melbourne causing structural cracking in the wheel meaning the whole wheel was dismantled and built from scratch. Five years after the original opening the reborn Melbourne Star Observation Wheel re-opened on 23 December, 2013 and what better time to make my first visit to the wheel than on Christmas Day.
Prepare yourself for two things before you arrive, first of all the price at a shocking $32 for an adult to hop on board you want to make sure you remember the experience and get your moneys worth. If you want to take two trips one at day and one at night, make sure to purchase the encore ticket for $40. You will have 30 days to return for the second trip so don’t stress thinking you have to go on twice on one day.
The second thing to prepare yourself for is the annoyingly overuse of the term ‘flight‘. “Enjoy your flight”, “did you enjoy your flight?”, “how was your flight?”… It’s not a flight it’s a friggin’ wheel for crying out loud, I’m not flying anywhere! (rant over).
I went for my first visit to the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel two days after the re-opening on Christmas Day thinking it would be a quiet time to go. It was and the entire city was quiet, something you don’t see very often even allowing me to drive at full speed down Flinders Street one of Melbourne’s busiest streets without hitting a single traffic light.
If you have visited one of the other observation wheels around the world (I took a ride on the London Eye a couple of years ago) then you know exactly what to expect but you’re obviously getting a different view. The view from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is also a controversial topic amongst Melbournians with many (including myself) feeling that the wheel is in one of the worst positions, but at the same time understand it has been put here to encourage more people to come down to the sterile Docklands area.
You do get some nice views of the city from this angle and the ‘excitement’ of seeing it on a rotating wheel, but if you are only going on the wheel for one visit I strongly suggest that you go on the wheel at night time. During the day while you also have nice views of the region, you also can see the not so nice views of the Port of Melbourne and the Docklands area just below you. Don’t get me wrong, if you love looking at air conditioner units on top of the Costco store below then by all means go during the day, but for the best experience go at night and you won’t notice these and the poor and boring state the Docklands are in. Plus it looks pretty lit up at night.
If you are visiting the city and want to see the Melbourne from a high vantage point during the day, the best alternative and a cheaper alternative would be to go up to the Eureka Skydeck 88 floors above the city. Not only is it a better view it is also in a more central location giving you views right into the Central Business District.