Why I'm gonna miss the Melbourne star (no kidding)

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The letter from Australia is a weekly newsletter from our Australia office. Register now to receive it by e-mail.

This week, Melbourne added another tally to its number of beloved institutions lost due to the pandemic. This time, however, the reaction was… slightly more mixed.

The Melbourne Star, our questionable response to the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer, announced on Monday that it would stop lighting the city’s skyline after 13 years of intermittent operation, citing the pandemic in addition to existing challenges like the growing number of skyscrapers in the Docks region.

In the days that followed, people paid homage to its history filled with misfortune, including stories of how it opened in 2008 for a “biblical”40 days and 40 nights before shutdown due to structural defects; how it could have reopened in January 2013 if there had been “no wind, no rain for the next four months”- an unrealistic scenario for most places and ridiculously for Melbourne; and the time in 2018 when passengers were trapped there for over an hour, leading some to use urinal bags in emergency kits.

I moved to Melbourne just months after opening the current iteration of the Melbourne Star in late 2013, freshly renamed Southern Star in an image overhaul with questionable success. Entering the city on the SkyBus, it loomed in the distance, impressively tall, brilliant white, framed by the high rise buildings of the CBD

When I asked if I should go, the consensus was “not unless you want a view of the Costco rooftop and the shipping containers”. So I never did.

I know only one friend who has. As an international student, he was probably closer to the demographic target of the wheel. She had been told it was a romantic hangout, especially if you go there at sunset or in the evening, a feeling which I guess is in the same general vein as the couple who decided to do a display of intense and horizontal public affection. in one of the pods, in full view of other merry-go-round enthusiasts and CCTV cameras.

(The reports of this event rightly Remark that when something similar happened at the London Eye, couples were banned from getting on a pod alone, but no such rule would be implemented here, and “in fact the wheel operators are unlikely to turn away anyone, with visitor numbers already well below anticipated levels. “)

This friend, Jesse, had a somewhat different experience. When I asked him what he thought about it, he paused for a long moment before saying, “It was a bit expensive,” with the kind of disappointing feeling that seems to characterize the feelings of many ride-goers.

Although I have never been to the Melbourne Star, it was in many ways the backdrop to my time in the city.

He greeted me at home every time I left and returned. It was my commuting companion before the pandemic, when I saw it massive and illuminated when changing trains at North Melbourne station, and again during the pandemic when I took the CityLink to visit my bubble buddy in the south. of the Yarra. It was a heartwarming constant to watch out for and a great sight when you looked at her instead of leaving her.

It would never be the London Eye or the Singapore Flyer – before the pandemic, London received 30 million international tourists a year and Singapore 18 million, compared to three million for Melbourne. Yet the Melbourne Star was an icon, with all of its weaknesses woven into the fabric of the city, Melbourne’s inner joke. Seeing the skyline light up without it will be another reminder of how much the pandemic has irreversibly changed our city.

Now for this week’s stories:

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Newsrust - US Top News: Why I'm gonna miss the Melbourne star (no kidding)
Why I'm gonna miss the Melbourne star (no kidding)
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