With thanks to Woodend & District Heritage Society. The society meets every Wednesday, 10am-4pm, at the Old Courthouse in Forest St, Woodend.
Until European settlement, Hanging Rock was hidden in the landscape by trees and undergrowth. It was part of the run that Edward Dryden leased from the government for £10 a year from 1839 until the land was surveyed in the 1850s. He named it Newham Station after his home in England and locals referred to it as Dryden’s Rock.
From the time of settlement, people from the surrounding district enjoyed this wonder. They picnicked in the grounds and on the rock, they rode their horses to the summit, climbed all over it, held sports meetings and gave unusual rock formations special names.
A gap between the rocks on the southwest was named McDonald’s Lookout after a bushranger of that name, and an opening in a rock on the west side was known as Morgan’s Lookout after a feared outlaw. There is nothing to prove that these notorious men ever climbed Hanging Rock but, of course, there is nothing to prove that they didn’t.
From Sylvia Boxshall’s book Beyond the Black Forest, which describes the early settlement of Woodend and the surrounding district. Published 2017, Woodend & District Heritage Society. $27.50.
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