A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Melbourne Star 'Literally' Reaches New Heights
Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) takes place in 2018 from 24th August to 2nd September. I got to experience one of the more creative and original events of the MWF, which arose as a collaboration between the MWF and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel - listening to a commentary of poetry about Melbourne while taking a flight on the Melbourne Star. The poetry replaced the normal commentary which points out the landmarks visible from the Melbourne Star during its rotation.
For those of you who haven't experienced a flight on the Star, a circuit takes 30 minutes, and it is smooth, gentle, at times almost imperceptible motion.
After a brief wait, while staff loaded the poetry in place of the normal commentary, we were on our way into that slow and gentle ascent of the wheel. The commentary consisted of a series of short poems written and performed by local artists. Each focuses on a suburb or landmark of Melbourne which is visible from the Melbourne Star. And so, as the flight progressed, we were treated to Maxine Beneba Clarke (Footscray), Ellena Savage (Brunswick), Angela Pippos (MCG), Khalis Warsame (Werribee), Rijn Collins (Westgate Bridge), Rajith Savanadasa (Preston) and Yamiko Marama (St Kilda). The artists and their work were selected by the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office.
The captivating view from the Melbourne Star vied for our attention
We had timed our visit to coincide with sunset, and we were treated to the most beautiful light show to the west as the sun sank below the horizon. To be honest, the view was so stunning that it was difficult to give the poetry our full attention. The audio was set at a fairly low level, so it was not at all intrusive. But I had to consciously draw my attention away from the beauty of the setting sun to focus on the literary aspect of the flight.
It's always interesting to hear another person's views on something you may regularly see and to consider it from their perspective. I'd never really thought much about the Westgate bridge, but hearing Rijn Collins describe its beauty has helped me see it in another light. And a later description of crossing the Westgate as being like 'flying' will no doubt be recalled next time I make the trip.
Making the slow and gentle ascent to the highest point
I thought Yamiko Marama beautifully captured the essence of St Kilda, describing it as 'being like on permanent holiday, a place with no expectations'. Rajith Savanadasa talking about the money lenders that used to have their businesses in Preston gives one pause to reflect on how the suburb has changed in nature over the years.
The city skyline from the Melbourne Star
This was certainly a memorable experience, and one I greatly enjoyed. The combination of poetry about Melbourne, in soft commentary, worked well with the gentle motion of the Melbourne Star and enhanced what is already an enjoyable experience. It was an inspired event that I hope I will be repeated in 2019.
While the MWF continues until 2nd September, alas, if you didn't get to experience the In-Flight Poetry on the Melbourne Star before 30th August, you will have to wait until next year. The Melbourne Star is closed between Friday 31st August and Sunday 9th September 2018, so that a scheduled $1M upgrade can occur to Melbourne Star's amazing LED light show.
To book your flight on the Melbourne Star after 9th September, click here.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.