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Bells Beach? - 2011/08/17 10:09 Here is a good story for you ... while at a family reunion in Australia a few years ago visited my Auntie Joyce who used to live just outside Melbourne. Took a trip to Bells Beach but bitterly cold and blown out. Went to see the Fairy Penguins at Phillip Island (Sharkbait) they don't come out of the water until dark so you freeze your arse off. (On the way, at a rest stop, saw a Koala drinking out of a urinal!)

Anyway knew about the film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" so decided to take a drive out there to check out the 'Rock'.

Schools out, forever ...

On Saturday 14th February 1900 a party of schoolgirls from Appleyard College picnicked at Hanging Rock, near Mt. Macedon in the State of Victoria, Australia. During the afternoon several members of the party disappeared without a trace ..."

"Hanging Rock" is one of the best examples in the world of a volcanic feature known as a mamelon, created 6.25 million years ago by stiff magma squeezed through a narrow vent in the earth and congealing, forming a rounded pile of layers on the surface.

The lava in Hanging Rock has a particularly high soda content and the action of rainwater has resulted in an unusual rock known as solvsbergite, or soda trachyte, which is the same rock found at the nearby Camel's Hump on Mt. Macedon. The only other sites in the world of this type of rock are found in the far northern regions of Norway & Sweden.

Since its formation, the mamelon has been exposed to considerable weathering and erosion, resulting in the unusual rock formations that can now be seen on the site. Hanging Rock contains numerous distinctive rock formations, including the 'Hanging Rock' itself (a boulder suspended between other boulders, under which is the main entrance path), the Colonnade and the Eagle and others. The highest point on Hanging Rock is 718 metres above sea level and 105 metres above the plain below.

Hanging Rock was originally named "Mount Diogenes" in 1836 by Major Thomas Mitchell when he traveled through the area. It was in keeping with other Greek mythological titles assigned to geological features in the district. It also lies within the territory of the Wurundjeri tribe, however little is know of its significance to the aboriginal people. Anyway here is my story:

Sidebar to "Picnic at Hanging Rock".

This film also inspired 'Mag Dog Morgan' a 1976 Australian bushranger movie directed by Philippe Mora and starring Dennis Hopper. Daniel (Mad Dan) Morgan was born illegitimate in 1833 of poor Irish parents in Sydney and later brought up in the area around Campbelltown.

In 1853 he went off to the Gold Rush in NSW and Victoria in search of his fortune. After being identified as a Chinese sympathizer during the massacre of the Chinese on the goldfields he took to a life of crime.

He was caught just two weeks after his first robbery of 4 shepherds at Castlemaine by an Aboriginal policeman under Mounted Sergeant Leonard Cahill and sentenced to 12 years hard labor He spent time in the notorious prison hulks at anchor in Port Phillip Bay where he was branded, tortured and raped by a system determined to bring about his demise.

He was paroled in 1860 but absconded to become a bush ranger, after being wounded in the arm during an unsuccessful crime at Whitfield, Victoria.

By 1863 he had become a serious criminal and even held up and wounded Wagga magistrate, Henry Baylis. The Government then placed a £200 reward for the apprehension of Morgan. The ever cheeky Morgan even returned the loot on discovering the identity of his victim.

In January, 1864, the reward on Morgan's head was raised to £500.

On April 2nd, 1864, Morgan held up the Tumbarumba mail coach.

In June, 1864 he shot stockman John McLean and police sergeant McGinnerty at Round Hill. McGinnerty was killed instantly and McLean died a few days later.

The search was on. On 28th August, 1864, Morgan fired 6 shots into a tent containing pursuing troopers. Sergeant Smythe was hit and died some days later in Albury.

On 8th March, 1865, the Colonial Secretary proclaimed a reward of £1,100 for the apprehension of Daniel Morgan and for information leading to his capture.

On March 30th Morgan robbed the Albury mail near Kyamba.

On April 11th, 1865, he was shot dead, with a bullet in the back, fired by a private citizen, John Wendlan, at Peechelba station, near Wangaratta. Morgan did not die straight away but his spine was shattered. When he finally died his head was cut off and tobacco pouches were made from his scrotum!

It is thought the Rock was a refuge for bushrangers during the Gold Rush era - particularly the notorious 'Mad Dog Morgan' whose name is attributed to certain features to be found on the walk to the Pinnacles, like Morgan's Lookout and Morgan's Blood Waterfall.

Hanging Rock later became part of Edward Dryden's run and was known as "Dryden's Rock". In 1886, the "Rock" was purchased by the State Government and joined to the local water reserve to become the Hanging Rock Recreation Reserve, controlled by the local Shire Council.

The Reserve has been host to many sporting events over the years including the popular horse races on New Year's day which date back to 1880. The present race course adjacent to Hanging Rock was constructed and the first Hanging Rock Cup was run in 1909. Since that time 'picnic races' have become a popular attraction for many visitors.

Hanging Rock was the inspiration and setting for the novel Picnic At Hanging Rock, written by Joan Lindsay and published in 1967. The novel dealt with the disappearance of a number of schoolgirls during a visit to the Hanging Rock. This novel was the basis for the film of the same name made in 1975 by award winning director Peter Weir. Its continuing popularity is attested by the 2008 British staging of Picnic at Hanging Rock - The Musical.

The success of the film was responsible for a substantial increase in visits to the rock and a renewal of interest in the novel. Yvonne Rousseau wrote a book called The Murders At Hanging Rock, published in 1980, which examined possible explanations for the disappearance of the girls.

It became one of the first Australian films to receive both international acclaim and commercial popularity. It is famed for its exquisite dreamlike photography, otherworldly aura, and eerie 'Pipes of Pan' soundtrack.

There are also overt sexual and mythological overtones combined with a mysterious and perhaps supernatural unresolved story. There is also just a scientific hint of an EMP or electro magnetic abnominality, all the watches stopped at the same time, even the suggestion of a portal to an alternative time or universe thrown in.

We got a late start on a cold, bleak winters afternoon and by the time we pulled into the parking lot, up from a lonely old time country racetrack, it was near deserted, no ranger and only one other car.

Talked Auntie Joyce, into hiking up with us. The place is quite isolated and we even caught a glimpse of a Dingo in the distance.

Its a bit of a climb with a maze of trails, narrow dead end canyons, pinnacles, caves and vent holes; anyway we had made it up to a ledge by the summit where you could get a good view of the countryside when the fog crept in!

Time to get the hell out of Dodge! The light was fading fast and soft snow was starting to fall! Conditions were quickly turning into a cold, nasty white-out ... wait a second which way did we come?

You guessed it ... we were totally lost! The thought of spending the night up there freezing to death in that spooky place with the dingoes, ghost's of Bush Rangers and maybe even an odd axe murderer was very unsettling. Hello, Hello, Hello anybody there?

Cooee, Cooee, "Yes ... Yes ... Are you ok?" Thank god a couple of photographers, just getting ready to leave had heard us ... we followed the sound of their voices back onto the main summit track and down!

The story goes the bodies were never found, explanations include: they were raped and murdered, attacked and eaten by wild Dingoes or kidnapped by Aboriginals. My take ... who knows how deep some of the vent holes go?
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Re:Bells Beach? - 2011/08/22 00:23 Hi Doc,
fascinating bit of Auzzie history. I'm wondering if you are doing pakalolo brownies or something? How the heck do you remember all this stuff? I say they girls fell through the crust into the earth, and if there was any magma/lava down in there, eaten by that.
Happened in Hawaii quite a bit, a few clueless people would be walking over the crust in an area they should not have, and poof, gone! Literally!
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Re:Bells Beach? - 2011/08/29 02:48 At one time lived in a Hippie Commune up Currumbin Creek on the Gold Coast, we had magic mushrooms in the back yard ... Yeah the area is dead now but there are still vent holes that go who knows how deep.
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Re:Bells Beach? - 2011/08/30 04:04 We lived up past the Rock Pools. Yeah back in the early 70's.
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