Family attraction with bird’s eye view of the city

Published: 14 Aug 2019

  • Australia’s highest, continuously travelling Ferris wheel coming to Cairns for a three-month trial.
  • To be located on the Esplanade, it provides unobstructed 360-degree views through fully enclosed, plexiglass-wrapped gondolas.
  • The 35-metre high Ferris wheel will be named The Reef Eye during its stay in Cairns.
  • It has featured at iconic festivals and shows, including Vivid Sydney at Darling Harbour, Moomba Festival in Melbourne, and The Ekka in Brisbane.
  • Operating from Friday 30 August, can accommodate up to 700 people an hour.

Residents and tourists will be able to enjoy views usually reserved for those in the city’s penthouse hotel suites, all from the comfort of a 35-metre high rotating gondola on the Cairns Esplanade.

Cairns Regional Council is partnering with Westshell Wheels to bring the country’s highest, continuously travelling Ferris wheel to Cairns for a three-month trial.

The company’s flagship product, to be named The Reef Eye during its tenure in Cairns, provides unobstructed 360-degree views through fully enclosed, plexiglass-wrapped gondolas.

At night it reaches new heights, with each gondola incorporating an LED lighting system with 35 changing patterns, which can be programmed to complement theming, branding and environments.

It takes just two days to erect the 100-tonne, 24-gondola Ferris wheel, which is fully contained within four semi-trailers and has a 20m x 20m operating footprint.

The wheel has been a feature at some of the nation’s iconic locations, festivals and shows, including Vivid Sydney and Santa Fest at Darling Harbour, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the Moomba Festival on the banks for the Yarra in Melbourne, and the Bondi Beach 14-day winter festival, and The Ekka in Brisbane.

Mayor Bob Manning said the Ferris wheel was exactly what the CBD needed at the moment.

“I am sure locals will be lining up to see the city from a view they would not often get the chance to see,” Cr Manning said.

“I imagine it will also appeal to thousands of tourists who will be snapping photographs from the top and sharing them then on Facebook and Instagram, sending amazing images of our city across the world.”

Erection of the Ferris wheel is set for August 26, with operation to start Friday August 30.

The wheel is quiet and will operate from 10am to 10pm each day, accommodating up to 700 people an hour.

“Significantly, this attraction comes at no cost to the ratepayer,” Cr Manning said.

“It’s placement also complements Council’s efforts to encourage people to visit the Cairns City.”

Westshell Wheels General Manager Leigh Achis said the company had actively engaged Council to bring their flagship Ferris wheel to Cairns.

“Following its departure from Darling Harbour in Sydney, we were approached by several potential iconic locations around Australia, who were eager to snap up this awe-inspiring opportunity,” Mr Achis said.

“After some long meetings with our management team, we thought we would take a chance left field and contact Cairns Regional Council. We weren’t sure if we would even stand a chance in this beautiful city.

“After a few calls and exciting conversations, it was a match made in heaven.

“What more could you want – Australia’s most iconic Ferris wheel positioned on the Esplanade in Cairns, the gateway to the world’s largest coral reef.”

Mr Achis said the company was also keen to explore opportunities with local businesses through cross-promotional activities and campaigns.

“The wheel would also be able to generate employment opportunities for locals during its stay,” he said.

“There are also several opportunities for businesses to sponsor the wheel and use it as a massive marketing and advertising tool.

“We know that Cairns is already a huge tourist destination, we wanted to partner with the city and bring locals back into the CBD and enjoy something new.

“A destination location providing something that would be popular with families, couples and basically everybody.”

Known as the “Star of the Show” the Ferris wheel is likely to be renamed to reflect its Tropical location during its tenure in Cairns.

By the numbers

  • 35-metres high, 100-tonne structure
  • 3-month trial, operating 12-hours a day (10am to 10pm)
  • 24 fully enclosed, plexiglass-wrapped gondolas
  • 700 people an hour
  • 2 days to erect
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Last updated: 14 August 2019