Before we ever seriously considered visiting Australia, we watched one of the most famous Aussie movies, Picnic At Hanging Rock, which was made in 1975 and became a cult classic Down Under. The plot goes something like this: a girls’ school near Melbourne embarks upon a lovely day trip to Hanging Rock, and several girls go missing. Later some are found, but some remain missing as the film concludes. This is based on a book by the same name, by the way… which I have not (yet) read. Anyway, I found the film quite riveting, and always kinda thought I’d like to see Hanging Rock for myself.
And then suddenly we were going to Australia (“suddenly” because Andrew found a deal on flights… and so snap decisions are required in order to take advantage)… and of course we were going to Melbourne… and that meant a visit to Hanging Rock could actually happen.
This also meant I might be able to see my friend Fleur, whom I had lived and worked with back in my Banff days, half a lifetime ago. I mentioned I’d like to see Hanging Rock, and she loved the idea of a day trip, and so it was planned.
This turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of the trip, but also wistful. You discover something you wish could be a part of your regular at-home life… but it cannot be, because you are in fact very very far from home. So it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing… and I feel pressure to make the most of it. But I’m pragmatic and I know that making the most of anything is done simply by being present.
And so, I found myself walking and talking with a friend I hadn’t seen for 17 years, along a lovely path, which I ended up not paying much attention to, because I was absorbed in conversation… until I noticed Andrew walking ahead with Fleur’s husband Dave, and Andrew was looking up and taking pictures. I looked beside me, and I saw this:
And then quite suddenly, we found ourselves at the top!
This is THE “hanging rock”, by the way:
There are a LOT of crevasses to explore and rocks to climb. And climbing to the top is super easy and fun. This is the perfect place to come for a picnic with your family, a large group, whomever. Just ten bucks entry per vehicle and you’re off to the races. (Speaking of which… there are actually racing grounds at Hanging Rock too… but we did not explore those.)
There’s also a really interesting interpretive centre at Hanging Rock, explaining the fascinating formation. I mean, look at the feature photo for this post. That is what Hanging Rock looks like from a distance. Here’s what I know/remember from my tiny amount of half-assed reading about it: millions of years ago (probably more like billions of years ago) Australia had volcanoes. Since so much time has passed, there are strange formations left by the eroding sandstone. Hence, Uluru. But Hanging Rock looks a lot different from Uluru. Super strange, like a kind of odd birds’ nest or something, just all these shards of rock spiking up from the ground, and rounded into softer angles over time.
It was a gorgeous day for an easy fun fascinating hike. And the company couldn’t have been better. Before our trip, I had been reminiscing about how delightful Fleur had been to live and work with back in January and February of the year 2000… so I knew it’d be just as delightful to see her again. But I didn’t know her daughters or husband. I was just guessing that they’d be delightful. And they WERE! It’s so wonderful to be proven correct when you assume the best about someone. I loved seeing our husbands walking ahead, discussing who-knows-what. I loved that their daughters were not shy at all, and freely shared their thoughts with us. And it goes without saying that young girls with the Australian accent are simply beyond adorable. The only bad thing about the day… was that it was just for one day. *sigh* That is the worst thing about travel. Knowing that you’re taking off again soon… and often that’s it, forever.
Notes about Hanging Rock: Highly recommended! It’s about an hour from Melbs by car (look at me using nicknames all of a sudden). Bring a picnic, or if you’re like us, visit a pub at a nearby town. Adults, watch the 1975 movie Picnic At Hanging Rock first. It’ll add a trippy sort of dimension to your visit. If you’re ever in Melbourne, you should go!