Melbourne Star Observation Wheel's appeal is limited because too much is out of view

It's been around, so to speak, for so long that when it first ground to a halt Melburnians joked that the wheel should be called Connex. Because it never ran on time.

Since launching for 40 days in 2008, Victoria has seen two premiers, two police chief commissioners and one governor depart.

What hasn't changed, however, is Melbourne's lack of affection for Docklands. But it's this blighted corner of the city that creates the first impression when you're riding the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, which opens on Monday.

As cabin No. 2 slowly rotates westward on the $100 million wheel, the expanse of big-box shopping centre rooftops with their airconditioning units and car parks come in to view. The car park of compacted bare earth next to Harbour Town Shopping Centre has two men in yellow high-vis vests collecting shopping trolleys.

Melbourne, the cabin's voice-over man tells us, was built in a rush. A gold rush. But the grand Victorian buildings he refers to are nowhere to be seen, even when you turn east to scan the city skyline or west to Williamstown. Similarly, Little Bourke Street's Chinatown is lost somewhere in the maze of parallel pillars.

A lot of what you can see from the 40-storey high wheel might be considered the city's understudy tourist attractions.

The city's Royal Botanic Gardens are highlighted in the commentary but hidden behind the CBD. A local at least will be able to spot the understudy, in the Flagstaff Gardens. But that patch of green is likely to go unnoticed by visitors.

The pre-recorded guide, let's call him Mr Melbourne, talks up the city's obsession with sport. He points to the Melbourne Cricket Ground - though it is hidden by high rises. Instead Etihad Stadium stands in as evidence of the city's love of sport. Similarly, Mr Melbourne enthuses about Melbourne Park, home of one of the four grand slam tennis tournaments around the world. It can't be seen.

What can be seen but doesn't get a mention in the "we're a sports-mad city" talk is Albert Park lake and the grand prix circuit.

Because of freshly sprouted apartment towers, only a fraction of the bubbled roof of Southern Cross Station - which Mr Melbourne reckons is a modern marvel - can be viewed.

To the west, the docks look intriguing with their stacked containers that at this distance look like coloured bricks. If you look at them through Australian painter Jeffrey Smart's eyes, it could look appealing. Shame about the lack of colour and movement on the railway goods yards, though, which Mr Melbourne seems to agree with, as he doesn't mention it.

The 21-cabin wheel's slogan is "Melbourne Star, starring Melbourne". But only a fraction of the city's best bits can be seen during the 30-minute rotation.