An hour’s drive north-west of Melbourne (on the M79 road) is Hanging Rock; a picturesque and intriguing nature reserve, made famous by the novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, written by Joan Lindsay. The novel is about a group of private school girls who go missing at Hanging Rock, whilst they’re unsurprisingly, having a picnic. For years there was uncertainty if the story was historically accurate or fiction, something the author neither confirmed nor denied.
Either way, the rock itself is certainly mysterious and eerie. It’s a volcanic mountain surrounded by farmland. As you walk up the rock, pillars of stone hang picariously on steep slopes covered in moss and are seemingly pockmarked with faces. It’s easy to imagine strange happenings going on here.
It’s supposed to take fifty minutes round trip to walk up the rock, however that doesn’t take into consideration having a picnic at the top (it just has to be done) or exploring the trails amongst the boulders. It took me two hours round trip, stopping often to take photos.
The main pathway is asphalt most of the way up and it was also quite busy when I visited, so there was little chance of wandering off, without being in sight of someone else.
The pathway up is incredibly steep and midway you can choose to continue on the path, or take a shortcut via steps. Both end up in the same place eventually.
Make sure you allow time to explore the rock formations (grab a guide and map from the cafe)
There is a seperate path around the base of the rock which looked easier and less strenuous though it doesn’t go up, it just circles the rock. On the grounds of the reserve there are picnic benches, toilets and barbecue’s. There is also a cafe and a small gift shop.
Just outside the cafe, a walk-through discovery centre Includes information about the formation of the rock and the story behind the film, Picnic at Hanging Rock (by Peter Weir). There is also facts about the local flora and fauna; you can expect to see kangaroos bouncing along in the car park or in the nearby bush.
The name Hanging Rock came about from a small heart-shaped boulder wedged between two pillars, though there are multiple spots with rocks precariously balanced against other rocks. One of the weird things about Hanging Rock is the sudden temperature changes. You could feel the air drop at least 5degrees as you walked up and the multitude of boulders facing different directions caused echoes to bounce around so it’s difficult to hear precisely where someone is if they called out.
As you drive to Hanging Rock, it’s well signposted as you get closer.
If you wish to familiarize yourself with the book before visiting, you can purchase Picnic at Hanging Rock now from the iBooks store.
There is also an online exhibition of the film with deleted scenes and interviews found at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
There is a boom gate at the entrance and to exit you’ll need to pay $10 (per car) at the ticket machine outside the cafe.
Picnic at Hanging Rock Deluxe Version // Cheap Version
The book is a classic for a reason. I recommend reading it before going, and then being mesmerised as you discover archways and hillocks mentioned in the book. Without the story the actual place is still mystical, but being there you can totally imagining it happening.
Beyond the Rock: The Story behind the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock
Written by the authors daughter, it explains secrets that Joan Lindsay (original author) kept about the story, until her deathbed. Consider it a biography as it delves into the lifestyle of Joan.
Why? Visit a unique rock formation which appeared in the movie and book, Picnic at Hanging Rock.When:Open daily, 9am-5pm, Open later in summer months, weather permitting. Phone:03 5421 1468 Website:www.visitmacedonranges.com/tourism_listing/hanging-rock Where:139 South Rock Road Newham Victoria Cost:$10 per car.
Where to next? Three and a half hours drive west is the town of Nhill, home to a talking horse statue, incredible cheesecake and long lost relatives of mine.
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