After a series of well documented problems and long delays, the ‘Melbourne Star’ (previously the Southern Star) re-opened a few weeks ago and is now a fully operating tourist attraction as well as a distinctive fixture on the city skyline.
If you’ve only seen the Melbourne Star from a distance it looks bigger at ground level than you might expect. In fact, at 120 metres, it’s nearly half the height of the Rialto Towers (251m) and is only slightly shorter than the London Eye (135m).
Riding the Star last Sunday (Australia Day weekend) was a pretty easy and comfortable experience. The ticketing process was straightforward and there was no waiting time – just pay your money and prepare to step aboard (after the obligatory safety briefing of course). Once onboard, the viewing ‘pods’ are large, air conditioned and have enough glazing to deliver the 360 degree views that you would hope.
The ride itself takes approximately half an hour and is accompanied by a recorded commentary that purports to be informative but, in truth, is more like a Melbourne tourism sales pitch (slightly cringe-inducing if you are hosting out of town visitors).
On a clear day the views are undeniably impressive (see accompanying photos) – although you can’t help but think that it would have been an even better experience if the wheel had been constructed in a more central location.