The largest Observation Wheel in the southern hemisphere is currently under construction in Melbourne’s Waterfront City development, with forecasts the wheel will attract 1.5 million visitors each year.
Passengers will enjoy spectacular aerial views of the city, Port Phillip Bay and greater Melbourne from the comfort of air-conditioned, glass enclosed capsules. The project is expected to cost $100 million.
Construction of the wheel has been undertaken by Alfasi Steel Constructions, using Orrcon steel tube and pipe. Over the last few years Alfasi have worked on the new international airport in Brisbane, and also the Telstra Dome, MCG Northern Stand, and Federation Square, all in Melbourne.
“We specialise in the construction of steel structures with an emphasis on the actual architecture”, said Alfasi Project Manager, Peter Jones. Construction work first began in February of 2007, with completion scheduled for February 2008, followed by intensive testing before opening to the public in October.
So far Alfasi have been involved in the project for four years. Peter said, “Because we had to build the wheel like spokes, with one arm on one side added at the same time as an arm on the other, and so on, every aspect required very careful planning and execution.
“It was basically a balancing act. We constructed most of the sections at ground level in order to minimise the amount of work required in the air.”
There are seven spokes in the wheel, one for each state and territory.
Steve Dawes, Orrcon’s Manager of Major Projects Group Vic / Tas, said, “We manufactured various circular hollow sections ranging from 25nb to 450nb, specifically for this project. The tube has been manufactured at our Wollongong and Salisbury plants to Australian Standard AS1163 Structural steel hollow sections.”
When finished, the wheel will have consumed over 1250 tonnes of steel, 3.7 kilometers of LED lighting and 40,000 bolts.
Peter said Alfasi chose Orrcon as their partner because “they simply provided us with the right solution from the outset.
“We needed all new material to meet rigorous safety standards and they understood what we wanted.
“Orrcon also worked out the most cost effective and efficient way for us to work together – and it has worked very well indeed. Their service to date has been simply wonderful.”
Chief Development Officer of Orrcon, Mr. Scott Loose, said, “For Orrcon, we feel very proud that an Australian company that manufactures and distributes steel, tube and pipe is an integral part of the development of what will become an icon.”
Currently, the largest observation wheel in the world is The Star of Nanchang, China, which stands at 160 metres (525 feet) high, followed by the London Eye, at 135 metres (443 feet) high.
* All factual information was correct at the time this article was written.