December 20, 2008

Aussie version of London Eye gets rolling

The Southern Star Observation Wheel, a giant Australian Ferris wheel patterned on the London Eye, opened for business Saturday.

The wheel, in the Docklands section of Melbourne, has 21 glass capsules, giving riders a comprehensive view, The Age reported. At the top of the wheel, they will be almost 400 feet in the air.

Reporters got the first rides when the wheel started turning at 1 p.m. They were followed by winners of a competition.

By the end of the afternoon, anyone willing to pony up $29 Australian (almost $20 U.S.) could go for a ride.

Originally, the Southern Star was scheduled to be in operation in 2006 when the Commonwealth Games were held in Melbourne.

The London Eye has one big advantage. Riders get to see the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral and other world-famous landmarks. The Southern Star provides views of Melbourne's Central Business District and projects under construction in the Docklands.

It would be a lot better if it was positioned somewhere that had a decent view of the city, like up near Spring Street, said Michael McDonnel, who lives in the Docklands. Or maybe even in Sydney.