The Southern Star (observation wheel)

The Southern Star (observation wheel)
The Southern Star

The Southern Star prior to its 2009 closure
General information
Status Dismantled for major repairs
Type Ferris wheel
Location Melbourne Docklands
Coordinates 37°48′40″S 144°56′13″E / 37.8110723°S 144.9368763°E / -37.8110723; 144.9368763Coordinates: 37°48′40″S 144°56′13″E / 37.8110723°S 144.9368763°E / -37.8110723; 144.9368763
Construction started 30 June 2006[1]
Completed 2008
Renovated 2009-2011[2]
Cost A$100 million
Height 120 m (394 ft)
Design and construction
Owner ING Real Estate
Main contractor Hansen Yuncken[3]
Architect Sanoyas Hishino Meisho
Developer Alfasi Group

The Southern Star is a currently nonoperational Ferris wheel in the Waterfront City precinct at Melbourne Docklands in Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. It is 120 m (394 ft) tall, the equivalent of a forty storey building.[3] It opened in December 2008, but then closed the following month due to structural defects, and was subsequently dismantled for major repairs. Reconstruction began in January 2011.



The project, undertaken by ING Real Estate and managed by Hansen Yuncken, cost A$100 million to construct between 2006 and 2008, and was expected to attract 1.5 million visitors each year.

World Tourist Attractions submitted a proposal[when?] to the Commonwealth Government for the acquisition of the land and assets on the site from ING Real Estate,[4] however ING Real Estate were still the owners of the wheel in January 2011.[5]

The outer ring of the wheel was completed on 1 March 2008. The passenger pods arrived onsite on 10 June 2008 for installation. By 20 October 2008, the pods were receiving their fit out.[4] An opening date of 28 November 2008 was set only to be postponed due to delays in procuring parts and bad weather. The wheel opened on 20 December 2008.[3][4][6][7]

In January 2009, approximately one month after its opening, the Southern Star observation wheel was shut down indefinitely after structural defects, including buckling and cracks, were detected. The operators initially blamed the 2009 Southeastern Australia heat wave for causing the damage. It was not known when the wheel would reopen.[8][9]

Upon further investigation, engineers working on the wheel discovered the cracks were not caused by the heatwave but rather a problem in the original design. Fourteen cracks were found in the steel.[10]

An undated press release on the operator's official website stated:[11][12]

The Southern Star Observation Wheel was temporarily closed in January 2009. As a result of extensive design and technical reviews a conclusion was reached to build a new wheel.

Reconstruction work began in January 2011 with the delivery to Docklands of the first of the seven replacement spokes, manufactured by BMC, from the Latrobe Valley.[5] In July 2011 the wheel was expected to be turning again by the end of the year.[13] In October 2011 reconstruction was continuing, but no completion date had yet been confirmed.[14]


The structure consists of 1,250 t (1,230 long tons; 1,380 short tons) of steel and 3.7 km (2.3 mi) of LED lighting. The supporting steel columns were manufactured in Tasmania by Alfasi Group, and the wheel structure was manufactured in the Greater Melbourne suburb of Dandenong.

The 21 5.7 m (19 ft) long and 3.7 m (12 ft) high air-conditioned enclosed capsules were imported from Sanoyas Hishino Meisho in Osaka, Japan. Each can accommodate up to 20 passengers, and provides extensive views of the city and Port Phillip bay and as far as Geelong.[15]


  1. ^ Kelly, Jan (2006-05-30). "Work to spin Ferris wheel". Herald Sun.,21985,19300554-2862,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-25. [dead link]
  2. ^ Observation wheel at a turning point | Herald Sun
  3. ^ a b c "The Southern Star". The Southern Star. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Royall, Ian; Matt Johnston (2008-10-20). "Man seeks to propose to girlfriend in new Southern Star wheel". Herald Sun.,21985,24520672-661,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-25. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Observation wheel at a turning point
  6. ^ Rennie, Reko (2008-10-27). "Melbourne's big wheel to open next month". The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  7. ^ Rennie, Reko (2008-12-19). "After the spin, Melbourne's wheel ready to turn". The Age. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  8. ^ "Wheel Closure". The Southern Star. 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  9. ^ Cooper, Mex (2009-02-02). "Heat Closes Melbourne's Southern Star". The Age. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  10. ^ "Design fault to keep wheel shut". The Age. 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  11. ^ Southern Star Observation Wheel - Press Release
  12. ^ Southern Star Observation Wheel - Media Centre
  13. ^ Docklands attraction making wheel progress
  14. ^ Anger over Docklands' hotel plan
  15. ^ "The Southern Star Observation Wheel". The Southern Star. 2008-04-28. Retrieved 2011-03-13. 

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