I would hazard a guess that most Australians know the movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock“. It is one of my favourite Australian movies of all time. And one I insisted James watch before he came to live in Oz. It is the story of a girl’s school picnic to Hanging Rock on Valentine’s Day 1900 that goes tragically wrong. It is a very atmospheric piece, set to a haunting sound track that stays with you long after the movie ends.
The Hanging Rock of the movie title is an unusual geological formation located about 70 kms north west of Melbourne. A mere 3/4 hr drive from where we are staying in Daylesford. It suddenly juts up from the surrounding countryside, so you can’t miss it. But from a distance it doesn’t look particularly special. It is only when you get up close that you appreciate it.
The Macedon Ranges Council have created a quite a picnic area around the rock. I wasn’t expecting this at all and am a little surprised by the $10 per car admission fee. However once inside the park, I see the picnic tables, walking tracks, playground and racecourse, I begin to see the value.
You can walk around the rock or you can climb it. Of course we choose the climb. Then there is a choice of rough stairs to the top or a ramp. We choose the stairs and this proves the right decision as the ramp is extremely steep and long. Rather get the pain over quickly, and you are climbing the rock!
I can’t say words fail me as a writer but sometimes adjectives do, this rock really is something else. The camera is in overdrive, everywhere is “the shot”. What I find hard to reconcile is the view from the top. It is of beautifully tended green paddocks, magnificent estates, all very tame. It is such a foil to this ancient craggy rock it seems wrong to me.
As we are climbing the Rock we spot a large departing school party. Boy, oh boy are those teachers brave given the location. I almost want to go and help count the kids back in the bus!
Tips for visiting Hanging Rock
Be prepared for an admission charge, done per vehicle. When we visited it was $10 per car.
If you want to bring a picnic there are many great spots to enjoy it. If, like us you don’t, there is a very nice little cafe on site. Do bring your own water and water bottles, as they have to cart water in. You can refill your bottles from a little mini tanker or of course you can buy bottled water.
Reading their brochure I see they have all sorts of events here including an annual outdoor screening of “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and a camp out.
There is a discovery centre with lots of information and of course a gift shop, and yes you can buy the movie there!