Conference centre at Hanging Rock

Iconic film location threatened by developers.

by Jennie Kermode

Picnic At Hanging Rock
Picnic At Hanging Rock

In the 38 years since Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock was released, thousands of people have visited its location and searched for its missing schoolgirls. Many have found there something of the atmosphere of mystery central to the film. Now, though, Hanging Rock faces possible transformation by developers, and local people are up in arms.

The rock, which forms part of the Macedon Ranges in the Australian state of Victoria, has been used as a place for ritual and worship over many centuries and is also an important wildlife corridor. The local council claims that it is now in a state of disrepair and cots to much to look after, but over 5,000 people have signed a petition demanding that it be left alone. The campaigners argue that existing facilities at the site, including a café and a stage where the Rolling Stones are due to perform later this year, bring in enough money to cover the cost of upkeep.

The proposed development includes a 100 room hotel, a conference and function centre, a spa, and two large viewing towers.

Although the council remains positive about the project, those campaigning against it hope that Planning Minister Matthew Guy, who once listed the rock among the state's most precious assets, will intervene.

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