No picnic at Hanging Rock: Australian beauty spot which was setting for famed Seventies film under threat from hotel developers

Protest meetings – and even a protest picnic - held at the site as petition with 5,000 signatures urges council to reconsider

Visitors to Hanging Rock no longer call out “Miranda, Miranda, where are you?” as they were wont to following the release of Peter Weir’s film about the mysterious disappearance of three schoolgirls and a teacher on St Valentine’s Day, 1900.

Hanging Rock remains a popular day-trip destination, not to mention picnic spot. But its unique ambience is under threat, thanks to a bizarre plan by the local council to encourage developers to build a conference centre and 100-room hotel at the site high up in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges.

According to the council, the rock is failing to pay for its upkeep, and A$8.5m (£4.5m) is required to repair buildings, eliminate weeds and pests, and regenerate native vegetation. However, locals are horrified. The spot designated for development is “really the only unspoilt vista” from the rock, according to one resident, Luke Spielvogel.

Mr Spielvogel, spokesman for the Hanging Rock Action Group, has collected more than 5,000 signatures on a petition calling on Macedon Ranges Shire Council to reconsider. Protest meetings – and even a protest picnic – have been held at the site.

A still from the 1975 film A still from the 1975 film

It is not surprising that Joan Lindsay chose it as the setting for her 1967 novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, which inspired Weir’s 1975 film. Although only 50 miles north of Melbourne, Hanging Rock, with its distinctive rocky outcrops, has a sense of isolation and a brooding beauty.

An important Aboriginal site where tribal people would gather to trade and hold weddings and initiation ceremonies, it was a hideaway for 19th-century bushrangers such as the notorious Dan “Mad Dog” Morgan. They would lie in wait to ambush wagons transporting gold dug up in the ranges.

Hanging Rock already has a café, car park and visitor centre. It has hosted concerts by Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart. The Rolling Stones will play there in April.

Yet those who climb the winding path to its rocky pinnacles experience a sense of tranquillity. Critics say that will be lost if the development – which could include a restaurant, day spa, apartments and two metal viewing towers – goes ahead. They also fear it could destroy a wildlife corridor used by vulnerable species such as the powerful owl, which is Australia’s largest owl, and the greater glider, a small marsupial.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living