Architecture, Melbourne, Photography, Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings – The Star of Melbourne

In December I was in the Docklands and I took some photos of the massive ferris wheel that was being fixed after a problem a few years back.  It has taken a while, but the Melbourne Star is now running again.  I am so glad it is, and I really hope it will help the Docklands. I decided that I had to go up in it and see what it was like, so on Tuesday evening I went.


The first time I saw it, which was over a year ago and the cabins weren’t on it and bits were missing, I didn’t think it was very big.  I wondered if you would be able to see much of it.  As time went on and I could see it coming together as I drove over the Bolte Bridge, I started to see how big it actually was.  On the TV ads they say it is 40 stories high, not bad.

It was a hot night that I picked, and the first of our over 41ºC days.  I wanted to go up and photograph the sunset.  I picked my time, but one of the things that I did get totally wrong was the direction the Observation Wheel goes in.  I thought as you were going up you would see the city first, then come down watching the sun setting in the west.  So it goes in the opposite direction.  If you are coming from Harbour Town in the Docklands then it goes clockwise.  A small thing, but if you want to photograph the sunsetting, then you need to know this.

melbournestar-20140114-6574As you enter the bottom part of the Star there are various rooms and lots of information on Melbourne.  I thought this was brilliant, not only for tourists but also for people who live in Melbourne.  They want to give people who go to the Star a great Melbourne experience.  That made me feel good because that is something I try to do with this blog, give that experience to you, what Melbourne is for me.

melbournestar-20140114-6575The bit I found strange was how you get into the cabins.  They don’t stop, you have to get on and get off with the Wheel still moving.  It doesn’t move quickly, so it isn’t hard, but it was a little strange.  The cabins are completely enclosed and air conditioned, so on the very hot day and evening, they were wonderful to be in.  They have a lot of room in them too, quite spacious.  There is a seat in the middle, so you don’t have to stand for the whole 30 minutes as you go around.

If I had one criticism it would be the audio that plays while you are going around, it is quite loud and you can’t talk while it is on.  I don’t know if there is a button you can press to turn it off, but if there is one, I would turn it off.  I am sure many people would like the audio, and enjoy it, but I don’t like it when you don’t have a choice.  I like to choose when I am being given information.  Really, very small thing though.

melbournestar-20140114-6582 You can see forever, well almost, and my initial concern about it not being big enough, well, it was silly really, you can see so much.  This view is overlooking Port Melbourne, an area I would love to investigate with my camera one day.

melbournestar-20140114-6585It would have been easy to just go there and photograph the views, but I am intrigued by the structure of the Wheel as well and wanted to photograph it as well.  It is really amazing.

Most know that it is based on the London Eye, and that the same designer for that also designed this one.  Part of the reason for the difference in the design was because they wanted to put neon lights on it, and at night you can see it from a long way while it is open, so the bicycle spoke design of the London Eye wouldn’t work, so they made ours more like a star, and I think it is the only one in the world like it.


The Melbourne Star website has lots of information on it about the Observation Wheel, but I am more concerned about taking photos from it.  The views are great, but how you get the photos can be a problem.  You are behind glass, which means reflections in the glass.  When you see the gallery of images I have you will see that I had some problems with reflections for a couple of images.  I first had on my 14-24mm lens, but soon realised that I couldn’t get close enough to the glass with it.  The lens hood is perfectly round, so it doesn’t block out the reflections.  I changed to the 24-70mm and had much better luck.

To take photos without the reflections you need to put the lens as flat as you can against the glass.  However, watch out for dirty parts on the glass.  They don’t clean the glass on the outside continuously, so there will be marks on it from rain and what not.  Pick places that are the most clean and clear.  If you stand back and take photos, you will get reflections.

They won’t allow you to take tripods, however, it would be pointless anyway because a tripod wouldn’t let you get that close to the glass anyway and you would get reflections.  There are ways of doing it with a tripod, but since they won’t let you take one, there is no point going into it here.

melbournestar-20140114-6599Once the trip is over on the exit, through the shop, you can see the second Wheel.  A to scale model of the Melbourne Star made from Lego.  It even goes around and the cabins rotate as well.

I really enjoyed my trip on the Melbourne Star and I think it is a fantastic way to see Melbourne.  The staff there are very friendly and make you feel very welcome.  I like that it isn’t just a ferris wheel, it is so much more, and for tourists, it would be a great way to start a trip to Melbourne.  It would help them work out places to go and see. It is a great Melbourne Experience.

One thing I wanted to say was for people who are scared of heights.  I’m not afraid of them, but my daughter is.  She wasn’t sure about going up.  She didn’t stand up next to the glass, and sat and enjoyed the views for most of it, but she didn’t find it scary.  The Wheel is so smooth and you hardly notice that you are moving.  Occasionally you might feel a small jolt, but it is very slight.  I think if you are afraid of heights, you wouldn’t have too much trouble.  I am not going to say it would be fine, but I think if you can stand looking out a window on a tall building, then you would be okay.

After we left we walked down to the waters edge, since I missed the sunset on the wheel, though I could see that the sun would set behind the Bolte Bridge, we went to watch and photograph it.

melbournestar-20140114-6603I learned something new about my camera on this night.  When I got home and was looking at the photos, I realised how grainy some of them were, especially the sunset ones.  I looked at my camera and saw that the ISO was auto.  I had no idea how it got onto that, I never use auto ISO, I really don’t think the camera is the best judge of that.  It took me a bit to realise how to turn it off, and when I did I could see how easy it was to switch it on and not realise.  I will have to be really careful about that in the future.

I had a great time on the Melbourne Star and would recommend people to check it out.  You get a very different experience to other places that have observation decks.  You should check out their website, Melbourne Star.

I have a gallery for you now of more photos of the Wheel and the views from it. Just quickly, wanted to add that the temperatures have finally gone down, and the heatwave is over, thank goodness.


  1. As usual your photos are stunning Leanne.
    I like the look of the Ferris wheel – it seems to be more secure than the regular ones. The views from aloft are stunning and I would work hard on overcoming my fear in order to see them.

    • Thank you Colline, I was quite pleased with how they came out. I wasn’t sure I would get anything.
      It is very secure, and probably me calling it a ferris wheel is wrong, it is a very solid structure and really, you don’t notice it moving when you are on it. I think you would be fine on it, Klara wasn’t scared at all, and she is terrified of heights. She enjoyed it.

  2. A beautiful structure, I never feel safe on any ride though except maybe the tea Cup kiddy ride. Fantastic view of the city!

    • This is a very solid structure John, very solid, it has been built there, and will stay there, so it isn’t put up, taken down, like many rides are. I was so surprised at how smooth the ride was. You really couldn’t tell it was moving, unless you turned around and looked at the actual wheel. It does give you some fantastic views.

  3. This is a fascinating photo tour! The pictures are so great and I love the transition from daylight to dark you captured!

    • Of course, the transition is there, I didn’t really notice unless you pointed it out. Thank you so much Kerry.

  4. My kids were especially interested in the Lego scale model. :) That looks fun and kind of scary (heights scare me more these days)!

    • It is quite large too, the lego one, you can get an idea of the size because someone is standing in the background. It is fun, the cabins are like little rooms and if you sit on the bench seat you can’t see down, so I think most people who are scared of heights would be okay. Thanks Em.

  5. Thanks for the great post. Views and pictures look great too. Were you the only ones on it that night? Looks empty!

    • You’re welcome Joseph, the views are fantastic, you can see so far. We weren’t the only ones there, but it wasn’t really busy, the heat was keeping lots of people away. They were saying the same in the area around it, that people weren’t going because of the heat. Thanks.

  6. leecleland says

    Fabulous spot for views of Melbourne and great shots too. Love your structural ones with the sun shining through. One up for Melbourne, Sydney doesn’t have anything like that!

    • It is a great way of seeing the city and what surrounds it. I really like the structural ones too, I couldn’t not take ones like that. I suspect the reason Sydney doesn’t have one is because it is so hilly there, it would hard to build it where you could get good views, Melbourne is so flat, well, when you look at it in these photos it is, when you are walking or riding your bike. Thanks Lee.

  7. Wow, Leanne, these are really terrific photos! I think you did a fine job despite the glass. Your photos of the structure are very cool—I especially like seeing the neon tubing running along the spokes. #6577 makes it look like an enormous metal spider’s web! The Lego one is fun to see as well.

    Crazy as it sounds, despite many trips to fairs and amusement parks, I’ve never been on a ferris wheel. Here in the States most of the ones I’ve seen have entirely open cabs—there is a roof, but passengers can hang their arms out over the edge. That would probably make me terribly nervous, which is likely the reason I’ve never been on one. The enclosed, shuttle-like cabs yours has are very interesting (and kind of space-age).

    Your sunset photos are gorgeous as well—I love the silhouette of the bridge and the lush, rich colours in general. Just beautiful, the sort of thing Melbourne should buy to put on tourism websites!

    • Thank you Jen, I really wanted to do the structure, it was great to photograph and I think it comes out really well.
      It isn’t crazy, I understand that. Though these are like little contained rooms, so I think they are more secure, though I am not afraid of heights, but my daughter is and she liked it.
      Now wouldn’t that be nice, if they thought my work was purchasing, haha.

  8. Thanks so much for this post. We saw the lights on the wheel the other night and said how cool it would be to go on it. We went on the Ferris wheel in Geelong at New Years and I didn’t like it, but if it’s as smooth as you say it might be ok. I can see in some of your shots that you caught the orange reflection in the buildings I mentioned ages ago. It’s like they are on fire ;)

    • You’re welcome, it is pretty cool, the kids would love it I think. It is very smooth, I was really surprised and it moves constantly and rarely stops, so you don’t get that jerking of stopping and going that you often get on ferris wheels. Oh yes, the orange fire, I liked getting that. Thank you.

  9. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says

    That was awesome! I loved reading as much as seeing your beautiful photos. The wheel shots were very interesting. I will say, though, I got a little weak in the knees from the heights. :)

    • That is great to hear Jackie, I was a bit worried that I might have gone on for too long. I hope you recovered, and did enjoy the view, don’t look down, ;) Thank you Jackie.

  10. I love the structure photos… looks like giant tinker toys. And with the sunset behind – beautiful. I can feel the height, and I rather prefer it from my spot at the computer! ~SueBee

  11. I love riding on these. We’ve done the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer so far and I’m going to add this one to my list the next time we are in Melbourne. Great photos and great tips too. Thanks Leanne.

  12. I loved all the shots of both the wheel and of Melbourne itself. How the city is growing! I will have to make a point of going on the wheel next time I’m down there. As I was born in Melbourne, but no longer live there, I love looking at your photos of my old home town! Thank you!

    • The city is growing, constantly. Yes, it is a great way of seeing Melbourne. That is wonderful, glad you like seeing what I do. Thank you so much Penny.

  13. Fantastic photos! Thank you, Leanne! I love the images of the structure as much as the views of Melbourne. Well done! And so glad the heat wave has passed. I’m watching the Australian Open so have been keenly aware of the heat. I’m so glad you are all enjoying what must feel like chilly weather now! An amazing drop in temp!

    • I am so happy that people have enjoyed the photos of the structure too, they are probably my favourite photos, so many different lines and angles. We are really glad the heat has passed for now. We are going to have to do something about the air conditioning situation before the next lot hits. Wonderful drop in temp. Thank you Mary.

    • Oh yeah, we are way ahead, lol. Australia is ahead of most places in the world, Saturday is almost over. Thank you.

  14. Love the color and structure of the wheel :) and the contrast against the horizon is great…manmade v nature and still it works :) Fozziemum

  15. Lovely sunset shots over a rising city. I love the reflected light caught in the glass buildings, and the sun over water shots……it looks beautiful but hot :-)

    • Thank you Seonaid, I like the reflection in the glass too, it is like fire. Yes, beautiful but very hot. :)

  16. Beautiful shots, particularly when having to overcome the through-glass problem. I suppose most people would opt for the comfort, but I wonder if it would have been that difficult to make provision for an outside observation section for the really keen photographers who are prepared to suffer for their art?

    • I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with how high it goes, and their concern about people falling. Seems all tall buildings have a lot of this, our city has spent a lot of money so people can’t “fall”. There are ways of course, and I suppose sometimes you just have to deal with how it is. Thank you.

  17. Interesting photo/travel post today – I was drawn to the shot of the adjacent car with the city in the background as a favorite – not a typical shot being so high up. I have had similar problems with my camera – I wish Nikon put Mode and EV locks on their cameras so that you don’t inadvertently move key dials while you are focused on shooting. Glad you got some cool Leanne.

    • Thank you Robert, I know what you mean, I think that is probably my favourite shot as well. I know what you mean about the camera. I can’t believe that it could be put onto auto so easily, I just moved the wrong dial and there it was without me realising. I will have to make sure I pay better attention next time. Oh yes, we got some relief from the heat, thank goodness, though looks like it will be heating up again soon, though hopefully it won’t be anywhere near as bad as it was last time. We are organising a new air conditioner, so I hope we are stuck right in it next time.

  18. great post Leanne…. I am a little hesitant at gong on it just yet – I think I’ll wait a while to make sure no more problems arise. Although if it survived the recent heat wave i guess all the problems are fixed!! Stay cool :-0

    • I don’t think you are alone there Dawn, though I was told the problem was a design flaw and had nothing to do with heat and that flaw has been fixed now. It was working well when I went on, great views, the cabins are really nice too. Thank you, I hope you managed to stay cool recently.

  19. These pictures are amazing, Leanne. I’ve always been queasy on Ferris Wheels and your pictures are so detailed, I even felt that old queasiness. I particularly like the picture looking out at the chair in front of you and there’s the moon in the sky! This was a fun “ride.” Thank you.

    • OOoh I don’t know if that is good, is it, that they make you feel queasy, I wouldn’t want that. I like that picture too, thank you, I hope you are feeling better. ;)

  20. kuujinbo says

    Great photos, and glad to hear it’s cooling down a bit. :)

  21. Really great images…I love the vistas and the geometric shapes and the general atmosphere you created in these images…really creative. Thankyou : ))

    • It was a great experience, I think I will do it more, not sure yet, I loved photographing it and the surrounds. Thank you.

  22. You are your heights photos! NOt me! Very nice images.
    I too learned the hard way about the D800s auto iso toggle switch. It is very easy to set it to auto and I have made that mistake many times. :-(
    I love the lego model of the star, very impressive.

    • I am glad I don’t have a problem with heights, but you will never see me doing underwater photography, I’m not good with water.
      That is annoying isn’t it, I can’t believe how easy it is, you would think that a pro camera like that wouldn’t even have that function, what pro is going to use auto ISO? Well that is what I think. Thank you so much Darla, I hope you are going well.

  23. Thank you for liking “Wind Carvings.” I enjoyed this post. You did a great job of giving your readers a detailed account of what it is like to be in the Melbourne Star, and you included some fantastic photos of the city and the Melbourne Star itself. Well done! :)

Comments are closed.