‘Hanging Rock’ technically named Mt Diogenes is pretty damn impressive. Here’s a guide on how to prepare for your first visit. I assure you; you're going to feel the tremendous energy of this place - it will make your spine tingle.

Ever heard of Hanging Rock? Something about a picnic, maybe? Sure, it shot to fame following the release of a book – and a film – five decades ago, but there’s a lot more to ‘The Rock’ than some girls getting lost (or did they?). So, here’s my take on why it’s so damn amazing and how I reckon you should do it.

Okay, first, let’s get the obligatory facts and figures out of the way – they are kind of interesting and help you to understand the place. ‘Hanging Rock’ is technically named Mt Diogenes, but yes, within the formation there is actually a ‘hanging’ rock, and yes you have to make sure you walk under it – more on that later. Europeans first sighted it in 1844, and that particular European was Robert Hoddle, the same fella that designed Melbourne CBD’s ‘Hoddle Grid’. Robert came along about 26,000 years after the local indigenous tribes are believed to have first moved in and they came along about 6 million years after Mt Diogenes formed.

Now, ‘The Rock’: it’s a volcanic mamelon that formed when thick lava pushed through a vent in the earth. Because this lava had a high soda content, when it mixed with rainwater, it created these magnificent conical-shaped rock formations. And ‘magnificent’ is an understatement. The type of rock is called soda trachyte, and it’s super rare. This rock formation, which is like nothing you’ve ever seen, rises 718m above sea level – around 100m above the fertile plains immediately below. There are loads of wildlife too – around 40 different bird species, as well as koalas, wallabies and kangaroos by the hundreds. What you see one time will be completely different from the next. Okay, that’s it – you can read all about this stuff in the Discovery Centre when you visit.

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Hanging Rock

Now, let’s walk the trails. Choices, choices, choices! You can follow the blue arrows up, or follow the yellow arrows left and then shift onto the red arrows. Today we’re takin’ it to the top and following blue arrows and doing the Summit Walk. It’s absolute gold because it zig-zags up the hill, and by the time you get to the top, you’ve taken in a 360-degree view of the surrounding plains.

First things first, take your time; start the trail, walk about 100m, stop and take a look over to your right. It’s the first clear look you’ll get of the rock formation, and it’s pretty damn impressive. It’s also the first time that you’re going to start feeling the tremendous energy of this place. Now I’m no spiritual guru, but there’s just something about this place that makes your spine tingle. Continue up the path and at the ‘T’ intersection, go right, then shift your butt into gear and take the stairs. There’s only 150 of them, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s the only way you’ll get to walk beneath the hanging rock. Please do it!

Now as you start the second flight of stairs, do yourself a favour and look ahead at the massive tree trunk, that while alive, must have dominated the view. It would’ve been amazing, but how the hell did it grow there? Anyway, if you peer just past the trunk, you’re going to get your first glimpse of ‘The Rock’ too, so head on up, take a good look at how it’s ‘hanging’, walk under it (don’t head-butt it), get your happy snap then continue up to the big landing on your left. It’s called ‘Stone Henge’ and you’ll see why when you get there. Stop here for a rest, and take in the views over Mt Macedon – pretty awesome. Quickly google ‘Ed Sheeran Hanging Rock’ while you’re there. He did a short surprise gig right where you’re standing a few years back.

Now you need to muster your energy and walk the steepest part of the path – it’s not all that bad though. The top of this climb is called ‘The Saddle’. At the top, duck over to the right, off the beaten track a little, through to ‘Lovers Leap’. This place is a cracker because it’s looking over the Hanging Rock Racecourse and the east paddock (aka our concert ground). Keep an eye out for the kangas down below and leave yourself a mental note to come back here for the horse races in January (because they’re just the best), and to a concert when the next one’s announced. If it’s good enough for Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, The Eagles, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and Elton John, then it’s good enough for you.

You’re on the last stretch to the summit now, so it’s off the sealed pathway and onto the real stuff. Take your time, watch your footing, and when you get to the crisscrossed steps (you’ll see what I mean), make sure you’re looking up because koalas love hanging around here. Then at the top of these steps, guess what? You’ve reached the summit. Pull out your flag and flagpole and ram it into the earth. What, you didn’t pack it? Just kidding.

Now I’m not going to talk about the summit too much, I’ll leave that for you to come up with the fluffy descriptive words once you’ve been up, but make sure you explore, spend some time here and take it all in…and don’t even get me started on the sunsets during May!

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Hanging Rock Winery

One thing I will say though is that while you’re up there, look at the horizon to the north and spot ‘The Jim’. Where’s north? If you’ve kept following the blue arrows to the summit, look straight ahead and a bit to the left. ‘The Jim’ is an ancient volcano too, and on the side of it you’ll spot a heap of vines – that’s Hanging Rock Winery, and that’s where you should head to see Ruth, Rob and the gang for some of the Macedon Ranges’ finest, after stopping for a bite to eat with Bri and Jase at Hanging Rock Café.

Hanging Rock happens to be in the coolest climate wine region in all of mainland Australia. Because you’re in cool climate wine heaven, don’t just visit one winery, see a few. You’ve got another two cracking vineyards nearby, so head on over to Alex and Elizabeth at Hesket Estate and Jenny and Darryl at Parkside Winery Estate. If wine isn’t your thing, there’s Big Tree Gin Distillery and Holgate Beer Brewhouse within 10 minutes of Hanging Rock too. And remember when I mentioned the yellow and red arrows earlier on? Well, another way to do the path is with Mark or Amanda….and a llama, yes, a llama. Check out Hanging Rock Llama Treks, do an abridged version of ‘The Base’ and ‘Creek Walks’ with them, then head up and do the ‘Summit Walk’ just the way that I’d do it. These folks are my mates, so make sure you swing by and tell ’em Shane sent you!


COVID-19 update: Remember that bit where I said take a right at the ‘T’ intersection? Well, for the time being, due to social distancing, you need to go straight ahead and continue up the ramp. You still get to walk beneath ‘The Rock’, but it’s on the way back down, after you’ve been to the summit, instead of the way up. Think of it as a little blessing disguise, because when you eventually get to the rock, it means you get to walk down the stairs instead of up them.

About the author

Shane Caruana
Shane Caruana
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Shane is a laid back and easy-going type of guy who lives in Kyneton with his wife and two year old daughter. He greets everyone with a beaming smile, is a lover of life, of nature, has an unwavering passion for everything Macedon Ranges, and takes great pride in showing it off. He’s an avid traveller, a former tour operator and is currently a Board Director at Daylesford Macedon Tourism and the Manager Direct to Consumer at Hanging Rock Winery.