Stolen land at Hanging Rock / by Alexia Brehas


Hanging Rock is one of Victoria's most curious and prolific landscapes. Lying 70km outside of Melbourne proper, this once volcanic site has become popular with tourists and environmentalists alike, who trek amongst the fascinating rock formations. We spent a calm, chilly day walking amongst the rocks, reaching the highest pinnacle to reveal a fantastic view of the valleys and distant Macedon Ranges.


Many people are familiar with the famous Picnic At Hanging Rock mystery, which has become a hugely popular attraction to the site. The park is definitely capitalising on the famous mystery of the young school girls with statues and informational plaques at the entrance. But aside from the fact that the story treads an ambiguous line between fiction and nonfiction, there is a greater issue in this area.


Hanging Rock, or Ngannelong as it is known to the traditional owners, has had its rich Aboriginal history obscured in the light of the Picnic mystery. These tribes of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Woi Wurrung, and Taungurung, were forced out from the area during the 19th century. It is another sad addition to an Australian history that is blighted by colonisation. Initially, I felt excited to be exploring an area so steeped in mystery. However, once I began my research on the landscape, I was unsurprised but certainly saddened to see another example of Australia's dark history in such a beautiful, natural environment.


This was important to keep at the forefront of my mind, as we trekked across the strange rock formations of the area. The rock was magnificent, towering and trembling with eerie beauty. Nothing made a sound at the top, no leaves whooshing in the wind, only silent, stoic formations, carrying a deep history. It was a beautiful and humbling experience, and the view from the very top of the rocks was well worth the travel.


The landscape seemed elongated in all directions - the rocks are large, tall and thin, like some kind of twisted version of Stonehenge, while the view from the top is all flat, long horizon lines. As you ascend the mountain, massive tree trunks become scattered around the rocks, reaching towards the sky.


There's something unquestionably thrilling about reaching the top of the rocks, like some kind of primal desire to fly, as we sat on the very highest outcrop, perched precariously above the landscape, and gazed out at the landscape. It was a beautiful region. We ended our day in the nearby town of Daylesford for dinner in a cosy pub before the long, starlit drive home. Plenty of time for reflection and contemplation of a history that begs to be heard again.