Sunday, 3 April 2011

Our Picnic at Hanging Rock

Anyone familiar with Joan Lindsay's classic and eerie Australian mystery 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'?  It is the novel published in 1967 detailing the never-solved Valentine's Day 1900 disappearance of a group of 4 school girls plus teacher during a school outing to the mysterious and ever-shifting six million years-old steep volcanic rock formation outside of Melbourne called Hanging Rock.

Part of the intrigue swirls around whether the story is based on fact or lore, and many theories have evolved as to what happened to the girls and why one survivor had no memory of what had occurred when she stumbled back to the larger group.  It is a lasting puzzle whose mystery surrounds and imbues this stunning place.

Armed with delicious curiosity and delightful trepidation, we drove up into Mount Macedon today for an afternoon of discovery and hiking on Hanging Rock.  J was on the other side of a nasty croup and Murphy was still recovering her hiking legs so a short 50-minute prescribed hike was just want we were all craving.  J needed some fresh air, C2 was desperate to get out of the city and I was desperate to see some kangaroos.

We hiked about 40 minutes through Eucalyptus and Gum forests winding our way around looming rock formations.  The trail is riddled with caves, tunnels and overhanging boulders, the enigmatic shapes, echoes and peeling Gum trees all lended to the spooky feel of the place.  Signposts advised that Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallabies, and a wide variety of snakes all called this place home but the only wildlife I spotted was an ant the size of my thumb.

As we approached the summit, it was apparent Murphy would not be able to ascend the steep rocks to the top, so she and I held back to wait for C2 and J.  Thirty minutes later and trying in vain to calm an increasingly frantic Murphy, I was giving some credence to the mysterious disapearances. The two of them finally re-emerged some time later and J returned with me to bear witness to a summit full of barely balanced boulders, caves, ravines, and steep cliffs plummeting hundreds of meters to the flats.  I began to register some ideas of what might have befallen the schoolgirls more than a hundred years ago.

Thirty minutes later, we were back at the Discovery Center drinking coffee and watching the magnificent Rosella parrots chase each other through the Eucalytus trees.

No luck on the kangaroo front though.


Elizabeth said...

It sounds so awesome. And, yes, I do remember that movie and it was very, very creepy! The Australians are excellent at creepy film-making -- Heavenly Creatures?

Melissa Miller said...

How amazing! I could use a good hike right about now.
I've been doing homework so much this weekend, it isn't funny. Four-and-a-half weeks and counting!

Jen said...

when we were in Horsham (to the west of you) we went to the Grampians and they were very cool... very different than anything I'd ever seen and sound similar to what you've described. Glad you all got out!

Jawahara said...

I'm glad you guys made it back safely :-). Seriously, I saw that movie as a pre-teen I think, and it totally creeped me out. I had nightmares about it. I am totally jealous of you guys going there.``