Recent news that the Southern Star Observation Wheel in Melbourne is to be partially dismantled for repairs caused by cracking in the spokes and rim of the wheel, should be seen as an opportunity for investors, the owners, and the state government to cut their losses, and walk away from this serious white elephant (although this is unlikely, given what we know about the psychological investment model and endowment). It is unlikely that the wheel will ever have a large enough market to sustain it, and from the start I believed that it would always be a struggle to sell as a Melbourne attraction.
Melbourne simply doesn’t have the views, or the international tourist market to make something like the wheel successful. The Eye in London is successful (although my recent visits to London suggest that it doesn’t have the same visitation levels as it used to), predominantly because London is an international city, with a large population and a huge 15 million tourists visiting the city ever year. Melbourne simply does not have large numbers of tourists visiting the city, who are able to, or want to, spend the 45 minutes it takes to observe a particularly boring harbour, a stadium, and glimpses of a few buildings.
I love Melbourne, and I think it is a beautiful city (I’ve lived here since 1992), but the charm of the city is at ground level, close up; in the cafes, the laneways, the (small) bars, and the theatres; rather than views from a ferris wheel in the flat, quite unimpressive western outskirts of the city.