History and culture

Hanging Rock is located near the traditional boundary between three Aboriginal Traditional Owner groups – the Woi Wurrung (Wurundjeri), the Djaara and the Taungurung.

Archaeological evidence found at Hanging Rock demonstrates Aboriginal use and occupation of the place for at least 10,000 years.  As a prominent, culturally significant landmark near tribal boundaries with a reliable source of water, it is likely to have been used for Ngargee ceremonies (Corroborrees) and other traditional business that involved gatherings.

Whilst each of the Traditional Owner groups assert custodianship of Hanging Rock, the place has important ongoing connections and cultural values to all three groups and there are important shared values and attachments to Country.

Hanging Rock is set in a broader cultural landscape, with important connections to culturally significant places and story lines at Camels Hump on Mt Macedon to the south, to traditional stone sources located at Coliban Dam to the north west, to Brock’s Monument and the headwaters of Deep Creek in the east, the Goulburn River to the north and Mt William to the north-east.

Originally surveyed in 1843 by Robert Hoddle and named Diogenes Mount, the first map was made in 1844. In 1857, the lot containing the majority of the Hanging Rock was purchased and in the 1860s it was developed for a ‘pleasure resort’. Hanging Rock once again became a popular site for gatherings, this time for picnics. The Hanging Rock Racing Club was formed in 1885, conducting biannual races which continue to this day. Several local sporting facilities are located in the Precinct, including a cricket oval and facilities, tennis courts and facilities and a petanque ‘pist’ with associated storage. Since the 1970s upgrades to facilities, paths, tracks, toilets and additional picnic shelters has ensured that the Reserve continues to be a popular place for visitors to gather and picnic.

Source: DELWP - Hanging Rock Precinct Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Landscape Conservation Management Plan (ELA, 2021); Draft Hanging Rock Precinct Master Plan (December 2021)

Victorian Heritage Register

The Hanging Rock Reserve (the crown land reserve containing Hanging Rock) is significant at the State level for the following reasons:

  • Hanging Rock Reserve is historically significant as an early and popular recreational destination and meeting place for Victorians. The distinctive and rare geological formation of Hanging Rock attracted large numbers of visitors from as early as the 1860's to congregate, be entertained, climb the Hanging Rock formation and participate in outdoor sport and leisure activities, in a unique and highly picturesque setting. The Hanging Rock Reserve illustrates the great popularity of outdoor pursuits, particularly in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
  • Hanging Rock Reserve is historically significant for its long association with horse racing in Victoria from the 1860's to the present day. The racecourse has been in use since 1878. This shows how popular racing is to the rural communities of Victoria.
  • The unusual formations of Hanging Rock have brought many visitors to the area including artists, writers and film crews.
  • The production of the book (1967) and the film (1975) of Picnic at Hanging Rock again increased the popularity of Hanging Rock Reserve.

For more detailed information head to Victorian Heritage Register 

Cultural Heritage Management Plan

Council has recently completed a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the various works it is undertaking at Hanging Rock, funded by Council and the Australian Government. The plan relates to the proposed works only and not Hanging Rock in general.