Hanging Rock Race Course at the foot of Hanging Rock
I have been to Hanging Rock in the Macedon Ranges, in central Victoria a number of times. And each time I enjoy hiking to the top of Hanging Rock for the great views before enjoying a picnic in the surrounding grounds. Even if you don’t like hiking, it is a relatively easy walk, though a bit steep, to the top of Hanging Rock. So if you are in the region, or have to travel to reach it, I highly suggest you make the time to have a picnic at Hanging Rock.
What is Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock or Mount Diogenes is a rare volcanic formation. Actually it is a great example of a volcanic plug or mamelon and is believed to be some six million years old. Due to considerable erosion from weather we are left with this incredible rock formation left for us to enjoy. By enjoy, I mean hike to the summit and appreciate. The summit is 105 metres from the ground and the rock stands proudly in the Hanging Rock Reserve in the Macedon Ranges area. And offers magnificent views of the surrounding areas of flat plain farmland from the top, including over to thickly-forested Mount Macedon with its rocky outcrop known as Camel Hump.
Where is Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock is 70km north-west of Melbourne’s CBD, roughly in the middle of the Macedon Ranges in Central Victoria. It can be found on South Rock Road (C322) in Newham. A car costs $10 to enter the Hanging Rock Reserve.
Why go to Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock was made famous as being the setting of the novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Lindsay. The novel was turned into a movie of the same name by Australian director, Peter Weir. The story is about a group of school girls who go for a picnic to Hanging Rock on Valentines Day in 1901. While exploring the rock a number of the girls disappear and were never found. I suggest, Hanging Rock is just one of the many rocks in Australia that can be climbed. But there is a sense of mystery here as you climb, particularly as you can walk under the hanging rock as you ascend, just like the girls did in the book and movie. Hanging Rock is also rumoured to have been the haunt of bushranger ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan. So I guess, going to Hanging Rock will mean you can tell people you went to Hanging Rock and survived to tell your own tale!
If you would like to read the book, you can purchase a copy from Amazon here.
What to do at Hanging Rock
Walk under the hanging rock being held up by rocks
There are a number of things to do at Hanging Rock. Visit the Hanging Rock Discovery Centre. Climb to the top of Hanging Rock. Walk around it’s perimeter. Or have a picnic in the magnificent grounds.
Hanging Rock Discovery Centre
Start your visit at the Hanging Rock Discovery Centre, like I did, in the grounds of Hanging Rock Reserve. It is free to enter. Gain here an interesting background of the area’s history, geology and mystery. All good things to know. It’s also a good place to pick up a brochure on the Hanging Rock Reserve that includes a map of the walking track.
Walk around the base of Hanging Rock
If you don’t fancy a hike to the top of Hanging Rock, or it is closed because it is too windy. Yes, it does close if the wind blows above 40km an hour. This is, I can only presume, because there are no railings at the top of Hanging Rock to hold onto if a blast of wind comes. You can walk the Base Walking Track. This track is clearly signposted and if you follow it you will be treated to views of the rock formation and the vegetation surrounding it. The complete circuit is around 2km so depending on how many things you stop to look at it should only take you about half an hour to complete.
Walk to the summit of Hanging Rock
The walk to the summit of Hanging Rock is considered easy to medium however, some parts are quite steep. It will definitely get the heart pumping! I found there are two ways up, you can follow the windy path or you can take the stairs. Though you will meet the stairs at some point when you take the windy path. Depending on which path you take, and whether you like to run up the rock like some do, it can take about 30 minutes to get to the top. Allow anywhere from 1-2 hours to get to the top and to explore Hanging Rock’s summit as there are a number of rock formations to admire, both at the top and on the way up. My favourite is the hanging rock wedged on two rocks, which gives the rock it’s name. But while walking enjoy the local vegetation and wildlife as you ascend and descend.
Explore the summit of Hanging Rock
Having a picnic at Hanging Rock is a popular thing to do. Hanging Rock is located in Hanging Rock Reserve. The reserve has parklands providing free gas BBQs, shelters, toilets and a small playground. But many, like me, take a blanket, sit on the grass and enjoy a picnic in the foreground of Hanging Rock. Many families meet here in the parklands and you will often see the ball games – cricket, soccer, afl – coming out after lunch. If you don’t bring your own picnic, there is a little coffee shop where you can get something to eat. Or head into Woodend, the closest town, where there are a number of coffee shops and bakeries. I can highly recommend the Vanilla Slice from Bourkies Bake House.
Drive around Hanging Rock
You will get great views of Hanging Rock as you drive around the local streets that surround the rock. Continue along South Rock Road (C322), past the front gate and turn left into Straws Lane and then left into Colwells Road. Along these two streets you will get some great views through the trees. Then turn left onto Coach Road (C324) and then left back onto South Rock Road if going into the reserve. Note, there are no car parks to stop at apart from on the side of the road or in some gate entrances. The gate entrances being used for access to the land when markets, rock concerts and the races occur.
Drive around the rock and get different perspectives
Things to do nearby Hanging Rock
What else is there to do at Hanging Rock you ask? Well what I’ve told you is pretty much everything you can do but there are other things nearby you can visit. That includes driving up to the top of Mount Macedon, visiting some of the small towns nearby – Lancefield, Romsey, Macedon, Kyneton and Woodend. Or visiting the Hanging Rock Winery in nearby Newham. The winery offers great views down to Hanging Rock with Mount Macedon as a backdrop.
Visiting Hanging Rock is a great day out. If you would like to stay in the area for longer than a day there are a number of little towns, as mentioned, with accommodation. The closest being Woodend. Check out places to stay here.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She is the creator of Live Work and Play in Australia. She loves coffee, chocolate and parmas and currently calls Melbourne home. Read More.