Words by Daniel.
For Christmas 2019 I decided to give my family an experience that we could all do together, and bought tickets to the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel as well as an annual ticket for myself. We went on it on my dad’s birthday in 2020 and two weeks later the first lockdown hit, and were glad to have had that experience particularly given we didn’t get together as a family again for 9 months.
Buoyed by the success of our Friday night post-covid drives, I decided to organise a Friday night Motafrenz dinner and trip on the Wheel. I was joined by Nick, Gordon, Chris G, Chris C, Peter and Pamela.
We had dinner outdoors at Urban Alley, a craft beer pub right at the bottom of the wheel. Melbourne had just come out of the snap five day lockdown the day before and Docklands was eerily quiet. There was people around, but for 6:30 on a Friday night when this place is normally pumping, only about one in five tables were occupied.
After finishing dinner, we headed up to the Star earlier than anticipated to see Melbourne. There is a gift shop and bar at the entry to the star, and you can take your drinks on board. With seven of us along, we could all talk to each other, and had plenty of space in the cabin.
We jumped on at about 8:10, just before sunset so there was still more than enough light to see everything, but it was getting quite dark when we completed the circuit half an hour later. I was the only one of the group that had been on the Star before and it was the first time I’d been up at this time. We still got to see everything into the distance, but we could also see the city as all the lights came on. I think it’s my favourite time of the day to go on it. Everyone loved the ride and seeing Melbourne from that angle.
One thing it definitely does is shows how much Melbourne is changing. There’s construction galore, with new parts of the docklands, docklands buildings under construction, the West Gate Tunnel, Melbourne Metro, not to mention the 20 hectare E-Gate urban renewal site next to docklands, the Fishermans Bend renewal site and the countless individual towers going up. The view from above really does show how much is happening.
The Star is normally accompanied by a recorded audio tour, however it wasn’t working in our cabin on the night. It’s full of really bad jokes, but does explain a lot of what you can see. Having done it a few times before, I found it quite nice to try and guess what things were and discuss amongst ourselves.
When we disembarked, we mentioned the audio wasn’t working. The staff said we were welcome to go around again, or we could be issued with tickets for another time. We quickly decided we’d take them for a later date as it was now getting dark and would be harder to see. It was fantastic customer service.
Afterwards we adjourned for a drink and chat.
We were all pretty happy to go again, and so we’re organising a second Motafrenz event on Friday 26 March. Many of us from last time will go again, and it’s a great opportunity for those that haven’t been to go too.
Like the Friday night Drive and Takeaways, we ran after Melbourne’s long lockdown, the Melbourne Star was a really easy event to run. If there’s a local drive that you really like, or a unique place or thing to do in Melbourne, why not organise a club drive and dinner.
The drive can be 20 or 90 minutes and dinner can be take-away, or eating in somewhere. Committee members would be more than happy to help with any assistance you need.