The Melbourne Star (previously Southern Star) is a giant Ferris wheel in the Waterfront City precinct in the Docklands area of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. It is 120 meters tall (394 feet) and is also the only giant observation wheel in the Southern Hemisphere. Construction on the wheel faced multiple setbacks and it was finished about two years behind schedule in 2008 but closed down again only 40 days later due to structural defects and suffered delays yet again, finally opening in late 2013.
The Melbourne Star is largest compression wheel of its type in the world. Structural Engineering firm Arup was commissioned to redesign the structure in 2008 after the original structure had to be dismantled. The new design features efficiency of steel work, with a reduced number of connections facilitating a rationalised construction and fabrication process. This innovation saved on both fabrication and inspection time, and facilitated an improved maintenance regime. The design also provides a well resolved truss system with noding up to the rim, maintaining the pointed star form. The spokes of the wheel are in the form of a seven pointed star, representing the star on the Australian flag. Key to its structure is the 3-dimensional diamond spoke design providing an elegant symmetry to the overall aesthetic.
A ride (one complete rotation) takes 30 minutes and, according to the Star’s website, provides uninterrupted 360-degree views of up to 40 kilometres (25 mi). The wheel has a total of 21 cabins and each cabin weighs 13 tonnes, is 5.7 m (19 ft) long and 3.7 m (12 ft) high, has floor to ceiling glass walls, and can accommodate up to 20 passengers.
Unfortunately the Melbourne Star has suffered from multiple short term closures since its opening and has periodically raised questions about its structural stability and electrical operations.