According to a maintenance engineer, the new iteration of the historical Arthurs Seat chairlift took ten years to come to fruition – “9 years of politics, and 1 year of construction.”
Arthurs Seat is one of the most breathtaking places in Victoria – where the ocean meets the bush and natural beauty occurs in abundance. The explorer Matthew Flinders first discovered the stunning location on the 27th of April 1802, and his log book read “the Bluff Mountain on the eastward I estimated at over 1000 feet high, and being near the waterside, possessed a favourable station for observation purposes.” A ‘favourable station’ is an understatement – the views from the seat are gorgeously incomparable, and when one takes them in, there is a humbling quality to the experience.
The first Arthurs Seat Chairlift opened on the 21st of December in 1960, built by a Czech-born engineer. For those who rode it during the 40 odd years that it was operational, a heart-pounding fear would be possibly the most memorable aspect. Reaching a height of 225m while only sitting in a chair, with your legs dangling out into the open is enough to make even the bravest soul tremble. After multiple safety incidents involving the chairlift, including a woman breaking her legs when a chair came loose, the chairlift was forced to permanently close in 2006, with the infrastructure being demolished in 2012.
From that point, the Arthurs Seat Eagle was devised, finally opening in December of 2016. A glorious feat of engineering, the gondola based lift system is futuristic, comfortable, visually stunning and, perhaps most importantly – extremely safe. 24 gondolas make their way along the wires, each holding up to eight passengers. Built out of 120 tonnes of steel, and utilising 10,000 metres of electrical cable, the sheer technological feat of such a mode of transportation is hugely impressive. This design is not the first of its kind. In some South American cities such as La Paz in Bolivia, the gondola lift system is the primary form of modern public transportation. In La Paz, the lift is known as Mi Teleférico, and has four different lines covering the majority of the central city. That lift goes considerably faster than the Eagle, as it is primarily for transportation rather than leisure.
The comfort and leisure of the Eagle is one of its most delightful aspects. An approximately 15 minute trip up, the ascent is nothing short of stunning. The higher your gondola climbs, the more the peninsula reveals itself, and the more picturesque the view becomes – you can even see the distant silhouette of the Melbourne skyline. Once at the top, there is a cafe which overlooks the natural beauty of the surroundings, where you can relax and grab a coffee, and there’s even a spot to have a couple of beers. There are various other attractions on offer such as the Seawinds Gardens, which hosts sculptures by William Ricketts, two dazzling lookouts boasting spectacular ocean views, and plenty of native fauna and flora. If you stick around until dusk, not only will you experience the majesty of the sun setting over the water from either one of the lookouts, but you will find yourself surrounded by wild kangaroos. There is also an enormous hedge maze, part of the Enchanted Adventure Garden.
Only an hour out of Melbourne, and starting from $19 return, the Arthurs Seat Eagle and the surrounding area is easily one of the best Victorian day trips. It is accessible to wheelchairs, and prams. Jump on their website here to learn more, and to book your tickets today.