DAY 195: Baiting Miranda at Hanging Rock

14 Mar

HYPOTHETICALLY speaking, if one were to take a moonlit saunter into the Hanging Rock reserve – to retrace the steps of 1900s schoolgirl Miranda and her ethereal, doomed chums – one would have to first climb the fence, then tiptoe past slumbering rangers (or perhaps they’re playing cards, or learning Jack Johnson tunes), then hike up sheer slopes of thick bracken and thistles.

One would thus be a bit of a dolt to embark on this hypothetical mission with bare legs, slippery-slidey cowboy boots and a handbag. Ah, the wisdom of hindsight.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, set at these volcanic boulders some 70km northwest of Melbourne, is a novel and film “of haunting mystery and buried sexual hysteria”. Missing schoolgirls, corsets, undies and a suicide plummet – it’s got it all. In real life, though, this spot was an Aboriginal initiation ceremony site until the 1850s, for boys coming of age.


I’m getting pretty spooked – not least by the low mutter of the bush pirate explaining the worst case scenario if we get caught. As we crash through the undergrowth, beating our way upwards into blackness for about 20 minutes (nope, can’t find the path), we hear kangaroos thudding loudly, weird birdcalls and furry things thrashing around in the trees.

“Wait!” The bush pirate hisses, freezing. My heart lurches. I prick my ears for eerie panpipes.


“I think it’s a ring-tailed possum, look – up there.”

For fuck’s sake!

Once at the summit, we lie down for a bit and look up at the constellations of stars in the cloudless sky. The moon lights up the rock formations around us. It’s a wild and woolly romantic spot, when the tourists aren’t around. “Beats staying home and watching Entourage,” the bush pirate notes. “Is that your hand on my balls?”

While the bush pirate talks to Miranda, I take pictures – our spoils – and type stuff in my phone. It occurs to me that if we do get caught or go crashing to our deaths, I have all the evidence here to put us on Australia’s Dumbest Criminals.

After a spell, we follow wombat tracks back down the slope and then stage-tiptoe down a horribly crunchy gravel road to get back to the gate. The bush pirate starts doing Robert Crumb and James Dean-style tiptoes to calm my nerves.

Keeper? A real kick… but I’m not a gambling girl, and twice might be pushing my luck. A word of advice to anyone planning on scaling a wiry fence any time soon – don’t wear a loose-knit jumper. I hung, crucified, from the top, plucking bits off jumper off fence spikes for what seemed to be an age.

2 Responses to “DAY 195: Baiting Miranda at Hanging Rock”

  1. Mel March 17, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Were you having another go at photographing your undies and posting them on the internet? 😉

  2. valentish March 17, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Absolutely – and it won’t be the last time either, I’ll be bound!

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