HANG­ING AT THE ROCK

Take a sight­see­ing tour in­spired by an Aus­tralian clas­sic

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION | VICTORIA - PA­TRI­CIA MAUNDER

On Valen­tine’s Day, 1900, a group of school­girls goes miss­ing on a day trip to dark and brood­ing Hang­ing Rock, which rises omi­nously out of nowhere an hour’s drive north­west of Mel­bourne. So goes the storyline of Joan Lind­say’s 1967 clas­sic, Pic­nic at

Hang­ing Rock, the novel reimag­ined for tele­vi­sion in a new minis­eries hav­ing its world premiere on Fox­tel tonight. The pro­duc­tion puts Vic­to­ria’s land­scape and his­toric at­trac­tions in the spotlight.

1 HANG­ING ROCK

Sacred to Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple for mil­len­nia, and pop­u­lar with tourists since the 19th cen­tury, this dis­tinc­tive vol­canic rock for­ma­tion be­came fa­mous when Lind­say’s story was pub­lished in 1967. A key lo­ca­tion for the new minis­eries, its craggy tow­ers rise out of nowhere an hour’s drive north­west of Mel­bourne’s CBD. Walk un­der the ac­tual hang­ing rock sus­pended in a crevice by tak­ing the steep stairs lead­ing to the lower sum­mit (also ac­ces­si­ble via an easy ramp). Con­tinue to the peak’s maze of boul­ders and views across pas­ture and bush­land. There’s a cafe at this mini moun­tain’s base, and bar­be­cues, ta­bles and lawn for pic­nics. Piper Street Food Co in nearby Kyne­ton make gourmet pic­nic ham­pers named af­ter Lind­say and her mys­te­ri­ous school­girl, Mi­randa.

VISITMACEDONRANGES.COM, PIPERSTFOODCO.COM

2 WOODEND

This re­gional town, which the novel’s Ed­war­dian school­girls passed through on the way to their pic­nic, re­mains the launch­ing pad for Hang­ing Rock, just 10 min­utes’ drive away. Woodend’s main road has a wel­come mix of shop­ping and din­ing; best bets for pic­nic treats are Bourkies Bake­house, Maloa House Gourmet De­lights and The Milko. Re­lax af­ter a Hang­ing Rock work­out at Hol­gate Brew­house, a fam­ily-op­er­ated pub­brew­ery of­fer­ing classy clas­sics like soft-shelled crab burg­ers, and eight house beers on tap. Try them all with a tast­ing pad­dle, or get cosy with the choco­late porter on chilly days. The lively Woodend Win­ter Arts Fes­ti­val re­turns June 8-11.

VISITMACEDONRANGES.COM, HOLGATEBREWHOUSE.COM

3 CLUNES

An hour fur­ther west, this charm­ing town is the minis­eries’ Woodend. The main street’s her­itage ar­chi­tec­ture is so in­tact that the crew only needed to put sand on the bi­tu­men and cover signs with vin­tage re­pro­duc­tions. Find old-fash­ioned lol­lies at Widow Twankey, an­tiques at Time Trav­ellers, vin­tage threads at Bower Birds, and well cu­rated book­shops in one of the world’s few of­fi­cial Book­towns. The an­nual book fes­ti­val, which at­tracted 18,000 peo­ple in 2017, is on this week­end. For a small coun­try town, Clunes does im­pres­sive food. Quigley and Clarke serve hearty, el­e­gantly pre­sented meals among bare brick, chan­de­liers and a wood fire, and Bread & Cir­cus Prove­dore’s break­fasts, like pesto scram­bled eggs, are city-sa­tional. Steps away is Hill­crest, a new Dayles­ford Get­aways prop­erty. This Vic­to­rian-era home’s rus­tic-chic makeover is de­signed for snug­gling, but the broad ve­randa also beck­ons start­ing with morn­ing cof­fee amid mag­pie war­blings.

VISITCLUNES.COM.AU, DAYGET.COM.AU

4 SANATORIUM LAKE, MOUNT MACE­DON

Through TV magic, the minis­eries’ pic­nic scenes aren’t at Hang­ing Rock, but sev­eral kilo­me­tres away by this small, se­cluded lake sur­rounded by lush ferns and tall eu­ca­lypts. It’s 250m from the carpark, or take the 2.5km looped Eco Trail from the pic­nic ground. Sanatorium Lake links to the 29km Mace­don Ranges Walk­ing Trail, so ram­bling and hik­ing op­tions abound. Get pic­nic sup­plies in nearby Mount Mace­don vil­lage – per­haps Mount Mace­don Trad­ing Post’s plump quiches and cakes – or set­tle in at Mount Mace­don Ho­tel. Atop the moun­tain it­self, take tea and fluffy scones with panoramic views at Top of the Range tea­room.

PARKWEB.VIC.GOV.AU, MOUNTMACEDON.ORG.AU

5 LYSTERFIELD PARK

Nu­mer­ous scenes of horse-drawn ve­hi­cles rum­bling along coun­try roads were filmed at this rem­nant na­tive bush­land on Mel­bourne’s eastern fringe. Graz­ing grey kan­ga­roos are a com­mon sight at Lysterfield Park, which is pop­u­lar for wa­ter­sports, horserid­ing and moun­tain bik­ing (it was the sport’s 2006 Com­mon­wealth Games venue). Gentle walk­ing trails in­clude an 8km cir­cuit around Lake Lysterfield, whose tan sand beaches make the ducks and salt-free air seem cu­ri­ously out of place. Joan Lind­say’s house, the Na­tional Trust-op­er­ated Mul­berry Hill, is 40km south.

PARKWEB.VIC.GOV.AU

6 MONTSALVAT

Aus­tralia’s old­est con­tin­u­ously ac­tive artists’ com­mu­nity was es­tab­lished in 1934, in what’s now Mel­bourne’s outer north­east. The fo­cus of Montsalvat’s five in­for­mal hectares is a clus­ter of build­ings, in­clud­ing a chapel and great hall, con­structed from nat­u­ral and re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als such as 19th­cen­tury gar­goyles and mas­sive wharf tim­bers. Over the decades, res­i­dents have made beau­ti­ful and in­trigu­ing ad­di­tions to this eclec­tic place, where pic­turesque ex­te­ri­ors and a sta­ble’s in­te­rior were filmed. There are ex­hi­bi­tions, work­shops and con­certs, and artists can of­ten be seen at work. Visit the cafe and gift­shop with ob­jects made here, from jew­ellery to ce­ram­ics.

MONTSALVAT.COM.AU

7 WERRIBEE MAN­SION

This grand 1870s sand­stone house pro­vides the im­pos­ing fa­cade and lawn of the minis­eries’ board­ing school. Now on Mel­bourne’s south­west­ern edge, Werribee Man­sion was orig­i­nally home to wealthy pas­toral­ists. A third of the fur­ni­ture and paint­ings, of­ten ex­pen­sively im­ported from Europe, is orig­i­nal to the house. Rem­nants of the vast es­tate now host ad­di­tional daytrip in­spi­ra­tion in­clud­ing Shad­ow­fax win­ery, Werribee Open Range Zoo and the State Rose Gar­den. Ex­tend the ex­pe­ri­ence at Man­sion Ho­tel & Spa, which fills the large sem­i­nary built onto the man­sion from 1923. Earthy tones bring its lofty spa­ces into the 21st cen­tury. Smoked in­gre­di­ents are a fea­ture of the fine­din­ing restau­rant menu while even a 30-minute spa treat­ment can spark a hol­i­day mood. Wake to a bird­song sym­phony and stroll to Werribee River or along the sculp­ture walk be­fore the park opens to the public.

PARKWEB.VIC.GOV.AU, LANCEMORE.COM.AU

8 COMO HOUSE

This gra­cious, mid 19th-cen­tury white man­sion was cen­tral to a cen­tury of Mel­bourne high so­ci­ety. Lind­say’s par­ents were en­gaged here, and she be­came a vis­i­tor too, while the TV adap­ta­tion used the for­mal grounds for a gar­den party, as well as sev­eral rooms. Como House’s his­tory and her­itage are re­mark­ably in­tact be­cause ev­ery­thing, from the ball­room’s crys­tal chan­de­lier to paint­ings of the prop­erty, were ac­quired from the long-time own­ers by the Na­tional Trust. Some of th­ese riches are in stor­age dur­ing an old-meets-new fash­ion ex­hi­bi­tion, clos­ing July 1. Horses have been re­placed by de­li­cious food, in­clud­ing the kitchen gar­den’s pro­duce, at The Stables of Como. Op­tions in­clude high tea with free-flow­ing bub­bles and di­vine choco­late mousse, the “guy tea”, and pic­nic ham­pers. The other in­ner-Mel­bourne Na­tional Trust prop­er­ties used for film­ing are Rip­pon Lea and Labassa.

NATIONALTRUST.ORG.AU, THESTABLESOFCOMO.COM.AU

THE WRITER WAS A GUEST OF DAYLES­FORD & MACE­DON RANGES TOURISM AND MAN­SION HO­TEL & SPA

PIC­NIC AT HANG­ING ROCK HAS ITS WORLD PREMIERE ON FOX­TEL TONIGHT AT 8.30.

PIC­TURES: DAYLES­FORD & MACE­DON RANGES TOURISM, NA­TIONAL TRUST OF AUS­TRALIA (VIC­TO­RIA), LANCEMORE GROUP

Dra­matic coun­try­side and his­toric charm set the scene for an iconic Aussie mys­tery.

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