Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hanging Rock

The location of the book and film Picnic at Hanging Rock is not far from Melbourne so, being such an admirer of both, it would’ve been remiss of me not to take the opportunity to visit. The train trip took around an hour and just after noon Kristen and I were at the town of Woodend. There is no public transport out to the rock, so we hired bikes and set out on the twenty minute ride. Arriving at the park, we passed through the main entry and souvenir shop (trying not to be tempted by the special limited edition of the book with lavish photos from the film) and walked up the track until we reached the location where the main picnic in the film took place, which is at a spot called Morgan’s Blood Waterfall. After cheese and tomato sandwiches with olives and crisps we were sufficiently re-energised to make the walk up to the summit.

The entire crop of rocks is called Hanging Rock after a particular rock formation where a rock seems to hang over the pathway. We passed through this and continued our way until reaching the area of flat rock where the four girls stopped for a rest and fell asleep in the sun. Here, we went off the designated path and weaved our way through some of the narrow passageways in the rocks, finding small clearings leading to further passageways. We made our way further up, with more exploring of the rocks. It is not difficult to see how someone could get lost there. The rocks are tall but narrow and there are so many of them that once you make your way around a few, your sense of direction gets confused and finding the way back is tricky. For a brief moment, I felt lost and unable to work out the way back to the path. I circled round until luckily I found it again. Once at the summit, I climbed to the highest point possible and had a great view of the surrounding Macedon Ranges.

The major theme of the book and the film is the mysteriousness of nature, its oddity and at times otherworldliness compared to the life and activity of humans. Hanging Rock feels like that. You feel like you’re somewhere where you don’t really belong, or, that if you do want to belong, you have to separate yourself from usual worldly affairs. Perhaps that ultimately is the only explanation of the girls’ disappearance.


  1. Those rocks look amazing! Can you tell us what they are and how they were formed?

  2. If you have time, go to Bendigo, beyond Hanging Rock-great small historical old mining town. The Shamrock Hotel worth staying if you can.

  3. Some info:
    Hanging Rock is said to be one of the best examples in the world of a volcanic feature known as a mamelon. It was formed six million years ago when a particularly stiff type of lava formed a rounded pile of layers on the surface as it was squeezed through a narrow vent in the earth. The lava in Hanging Rock has a particularly high soda content and the action of rainwater has resulted in an unusual rock known as solvsbergite, or soda trachyte, which is the same rock found at the nearby Camel's Hump on Mt. Macedon.
    ( )