IceHouse: Ice Skating in Melbourne’s Docklands

With the post Winter Olympic buzz still in the air and the recent opening of Icehouse in Melbourne’s Docklands, I got together with a couple of friends at works for a skate on tight a$$ Tuesday last week. I also backed this up with another skate there on Sunday with the family.

The first time out on the rink was ‘Tight A$$ Tuesday’ which is half price entry (but not half price skate hire). I hired ‘premium’ hockey skates and hit the ice with a Canadian (ice in the blood?!) and another work friend who used to play ice and inline hockey. Just a note on the Tuesday night session…it is BUSY. I asked on my return visit on Sunday how many they put through the doors Tuesday night and they said 700 skaters…HUGE. Previous weeks had been between 250 to 400 skaters.

I haven’t ice skated for about 10 plus years and last time I did I was terrible at it, so I had low expectations when I got out there this time. I did however have a lot more inline experience under my belt including playing some high level inline hockey.

I got out on the ice which I am told was reasonably hard and good quality (better than the last times I skated at Ringwood or Oakleigh…from memory). At first I was a little shaky when I got on the ice, but I felt at home after a while.

After about a half an hour or so, I decided it was time to figure out the difference between ice and inline hockey stops. I knew the way it needed to be done was essentially the opposite to inline, and there were some other old friends at the rink I knew from my inline hockey days that gave me some tips on the differences. I started to get it working to the left, but the break through didn’t come until I was reminded to bend my knees more. By the time I had it sussed, it was time to go home.

I headed back the the Icehouse on Sunday with my family after my brother invited me. My daughter has spent minimal time on inlines lately (too much BMX) and my ‘wife’ (no we are not married, but partner doesn’t sound right) also skated and played inline hockey. So they picked it up OK. My brother even got out and did some spins on the hire hockey skates to upset the figure skating dude that was there.

The covers were also down on the main Henke rink (aka rink 1) where I assume a lot of hockey and figure skating will take place. They were still working on the ice there, as apparently roof leaked in the crazy weather we had on the weekend and set them back. There are only stands on one side of that rink which I find odd, but I guess they may have been space and budget constrained.

On the whole the facility is good. The cafe prices are OK and not as high as I expected. The DJ had no real idea how to run a session so I guess he may be an outsider, but ice rinks also don’t seem to run their sessions quite like roller rinks. There was a comment from another experienced skater that the management has no idea how to run an ice skating facility, and I would agree at this point in time. They seem adamant to get as many people through the doors in as many sessions as possible while the buzz is there. But the way they are operating is making it very easy for patrons to just sit around between sessions and skate the whole day after their first admission (trust me, I saw it happen first hand). We will see what happens in time.

Given that there is a fair bit of government support behind this facility it should last, especially since it is home to the Winter Australian Institute of Sport. But if Australia doesn’t start getting hockey teams, figure skaters and curling teams into medal contention at future Winter Olympics, will it be fully privatised?

Here is a little video with some of the Tuesday night session and my attempts at hockey stopping for the first time, and some pictures of the rinks.




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