The new Wheel of Perth provides an interesting insight into the inept and unimaginative planning that our governing bodies at state and local level are famous for. While there’s nothing wrong with slavishly copying the London Eye tourist wheel, Perth Mayor Lisa Scaffidi should have considered whether there is actually anything worth seeing from a much smaller one perched on the edge of the Swan River.
London is a confusing jumble of ancient and modern architecture laid out like a mad woman’s shit. But from the top of the London Eye (135m), one is afforded a privileged view that takes in Buckingham Palace, Southbank, Waterloo, the West End and dozens of other landmarks. It’s riveting and can completely transform the brain’s ingrained and overly simple tube-map-like geography that befuddles both tourists and Londoners. But in Perth, what is there? Great swathes of grass, freeway and the river – which look pretty much the same from 50m up as they do from ground level.
Additionally, in London, there are very few (if any) tall buildings where one can go to cop a bird’s-eye view of London. But in Perth, anyone who’s ever stayed in a hotel/paid a tax bill/visited a lawyer/gone to a revolving restaurant/stood on the edge of King’s Park will have had a better view than the wheel provides.
This kind of slavish copying without any critical thinking can also be seen in the Perth-Mandurah railway. The chief reason that people use trains is that they drop you in the MIDDLE of a town or city. The Mandurah railway doesn’t go anywhere near the middle of Mandurah, or indeed the middle of any of the other towns it stops at.
If you want to get dropped on the outskirts of a city then take a plane, but if you want to be in the middle of town then take a train. Paris/London, Perth/Fremantle – it doesn’t matter; people catch the train because it goes where they want to go – the middle of town.
Why would anyone go to Rockingham (ahem) when Rockingham station is located on the edge of a desert salt lake that resembles the alien planet in The Man Who Fell to Earth? Mandurah station is scarcely better, lying ‘twixt some sand hills in an industrial area dotted with awful, rusting modern art pieces. Both are miles from the center of the, er, action.
Astonishingly, the Bunbury railway went to the center of Bunbury for nigh on fifty years but the powers that be obviously thought this too convenient so they moved the station miles outside the town into the middle of an industrial park. Until our governing bodies can actually demonstrate some independent thinking then they will no doubt keep churning out these astonishing blunders.