Ferris Wheel doesn't have me in a spin

Joseph Sapienza felt the highs and lows of Perth's latest foreshore attraction.

The Perth Ferris Wheel officially opened today but unfortunately it didn't have me in a spin (sorry to start off with a pun).

There was no big cutting of the ribbon event planned by the marketing and PR flacks at Council House but rather a low-key opening involving Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi - who was looking rather resplendent in a pink outfit I must say - and about a dozen members of Perth's media.

I had my doubts about the impact of the Ferris Wheel on the Perth City landscape - and specifically on the dormant Swan River foreshore on the northern side - because it was simply too small.

Whether you're driving up the Narrows Bridge or along the Esplanade in South Perth, the ferris wheel - like former premier Richard Court's beloved bell tower - fails to scream something along the lines of "CHECK US OUT" to the city and its visitors.

Rather than sitting conspicuously on the edge of the foreshore for all to gaze and marvel at, the wheel merely blends in with the city skyline.

It doesn't overshadow the majestic BankWest Tower nor Central Park, it's just sitting there - mediocre in size. Like a dot on the horizon.

But after all, doesn't our city have a disturbing infatuation with grasping mediocrity whenever Perth gets a chance to emphatically stamp itself on the maps of the world.

To me, the Ferris Wheel appears to be some sort of quick-fix solution by the city brains trust on St Georges Terrace to draw people from far and wide to the central business district and to liven up a foreshore that sees less action than a librarians' convention.


That poses another question. The aim of the wheel is to draw people to the foreshore but what exactly is there at the foreshore that will encourage the "ferris-wheelers" to stick around.

I used to catch the trans-Swan ferry from the Barrack Street jetty to South Perth and at all times, I would sit impatiently on the wooden bench waiting and waiting for the "Shelley Taylor Smith" to dock.

Not once did I find the option of walking around the Barrack Street precinct an attractive proposition.

I knew what was on offer - after all nothing has changed there over the past decade, besides Richard's Bells - so I didn't bother hanging around.

(Heck, even the crusted sausage roll in one of the warmers in the area would often provide me with the motivation to keep starving).

And the Lucky Shag Bar seems to have failed to capitalise on being the pub of choice for the touring Barmy Army whenever our Ashes rival comes to town.

After painting that grim picture, I ask the question: What is there for people to do in the Barrack Street jetty area once their 10-12 minute stint on the wheel has 'sadly' come to an end?

At the end of the day, the wheel - like the bell tower adjacent to it - should have been at least twice the size. Simple as that.

As our pictures will show...well, to be honest, what do our pictures show other than what we already know and see.

I still rate sneaking my way up to the upper-reaches of the then-called R&I Tower with my older cousin some 15 years ago to catch the breathtaking view of my town as the best there is.

At least your ears actually pop on the way up - unlike on the wheel.

Let's get one thing straight though. The wheel is still a terrific concept.

It will be a fantastic family attraction - judging by the hordes of little kids that gathered around us anxiously waiting for their turn.

But to the greater good of Perth, it does not go far - or high - enough. Also where are the family-friendly places in the Barrack Street jetty area to ensure the families stick around?

Plus I don't think the wheel will stop the presses on the countless number of latest-edition travel guides being printed around the world.

Upon disembarking from her cabin, Mayor Scaffidi did not exactly appear to be flushed with adrenalin and amazement from the ride (You could tell because the colour of her cheeks didn't match the colour of her frock).

"It was very interesting," she said calmly.

"I enjoyed it. It was amazing to see the vastness of the Swan River from such heights."

Perth had a great opportunity to build an attraction that would have had our tourism marketing industry drooling at the meeting table.

We had a chance to match - for example - Sydney's Centrepoint Tower and Melbourne's Rialto Towers.

Could the Council perhaps ask the BankWest Tower and Central Park head-honchos to open up their top decks? Now that would be a treat.

At least you could see PAST King's Park.

On a final note, the VIP cabin (which comes at a cost of over $100 per ride) has a DVD player and TV in it.

I'm not going to even add to that.

One idea I have though: Grab a copy of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and watch it while you go up and down.

Possibly the perfect soundtrack/scene to the ride would be when the hilarious - albeit extremely dull and lifeless - economics teacher groans during roll call: "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?"

It would sum up the excitement perfectly.