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Southern Star will take tourism to new heights  Oct 28, 2008

What's 120m tall, has 3.7km of light-emitting diodes, carries 420 people in 21 air-conditioned pods and offers 360-degree views? Melbourne's newest tourist attraction.

The Southern Star will become Australia's first observation wheel, in the style of the famous London Eye, when it opens on November 28.

The seven-spoke wheel, built in the expanding Docklands precinct, is expected to become one of the city's tourism drawcards.

Victorian Premier John Brumby announced yesterday both the opening date and the extension of tram services to the wheel, saying it would be a world-class attraction that drew 1.5 million visitors a year.

The $100million attraction is the latest addition to Waterfront City, a development on Victoria Harbour which already includes apartment towers and restaurant zones.

The next phase will include retail and entertainment. The wheel, a product of ING funding with joint Australian and Japanese design and construction, will add spectacular light displays to the city.

Mr Brumby said the attraction would create 120 jobs and was an important investment in tourism, a critical part of the state's economy.

''The Southern Star's unique state-of-the-art structure features 21 enclosed air-conditioned glass cabins and a world-first 3.7km LED lighting system which will provide stunning night-time displays,'' he said.

''It also showcases Victoria's manufacturing industry with many aspects of the wheel developed here in Victoria, including the wheel structure and floor and ceiling glass walls.''

A journey on the wheel will take 30 minutes, raising passengers as high as a 40-storey building and offering views across Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne's central business district and Geelong, 70km away.

Up to 20 guests can fit in each of the 21 pods, which can be booked for functions. The building below will offer function rooms and can cater for weddings and other events.

The Southern Star follows the popular Skydeck in the Eureka Tower, which extends from floor 88 of the building and has a transparent floor.

From next year, the City Circle tram will stop at the Southern Star. Tickets will cost $29 for adults, $17 for children.

Southern Star will take tourism to new heights
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