Eureka Skydeck 88
The Skydeck is set in the city's tallest building, Eureka Tower, on the south side of the Yarra River. Fittingly, the entrance fee is also rather high, currently hovering at $17.50 for adults and $10 for children. It may seem a lot just to look out of a few windows, but judging by the crowds, plenty of people believe it's a price worth paying.
After passing through a rather missable exhibition space on the ground level, you take a lift up to the 88th floor. There are no windows in the lift and the journey is deceptively smooth, so you may not realize just how quickly you're travelling - up to 9 metres per second at its fastest. The rate at which floors tick by on the lift's level indicator is really quite remarkable.
The observation deck itself is a fairly small, enclosed space. You are mostly looking through glass, although there is one 'outside' area with wire mesh walls. The views are undeniably impressive, particularly over the eastern and south-eastern suburbs.
That said, keen photographers may find it a slightly frustrating experience. Most of the glass is tinted blue or is highly reflective (especially on the northern, city-facing side). Also, the fine wire mesh of the outside section will seriously obstruct all but the smallest camera lenses.
The general impression is that the building was adapted to house an observation deck as an afterthought, rather than purpose-designed, but there is one innovative feature that really stands out. The Edge is a glass cube, which slides out about three metres from the side of the tower. The surfaces are initially opaque, but they turn suddenly transparent, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass.
Finding yourself suspended almost three hundred metres above the ground is a neat trick, but it's a shame that it costs an additional $12 for adults and $8 for children. It really ought to be included in the main admission price. Adding insult to injury, you're not even allowed to take your own photos inside, although they will sell you a picture of yourself for a further $15. You should also be aware that there may be a substantial wait for admission to The Edge (about 45 minutes when I attended).
Despite a few reservations, I would still recommend Eureka Skydeck 88 to visitors. The views are certainly good, and for the majority of people, it is the only way to see the city from this perspective. Of course, if your budget is large enough, there are always other options and you might also want to consider one of Melbourne's high-altitude fine dining restaurants (e.g. Vue de Monde and No35), or even a sightseeing trip by balloon or helicopter.
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