History and culture

A brief history 

Hanging Rock has fitted in so much over 6 million years….from a sacred place for local indigenous people and backdrop to Joan Lindsay’s book Picnic at Hanging Rock and Peter Weir’s film of the same title, to a colourful host of music concerts, markets and popular horse races - the Rock tells many tales about the history of the Macedon Ranges.

Mount Diogenes, as it’s also known, is a rare volcanic formation located near the townships of Woodend and Mount Macedon. One of the best examples of a volcanic plug or mamelon in the world, it has been exposed to considerable weathering and erosion, resulting in a conglomeration of unusual rock formations. 

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 both Council and the Australian Government. The plan relates to the proposed works only and not Hanging Rock in general.