Friday, April 13, 2012

Hanging Rock

Last night I dreamed I was at Hanging Rock. Though I have driven past it many times, on my way from Melbourne to Castlemaine and back, I have only ever visited the rock once—when, as a child, my brother Nick took me there with his girlfriend, Judy, and their friend Annie Byrne, for a picnic. It is a most remarkable wooded formation of extruded volcanic plugs rising rather abruptly out of gently rolling arable land in the vicinity of Mount Macedon, Woodend, and Kyneton in cental Victoria. Not especially spectacular in scale or appearance, it nevertheless creates a lasting impression of strange, quiet imposition, and inconceivable antiquity. I gather it is also known as Mount Diogenes. Actually I do recall that the view out from between vast granite boulders near the top conveyed to me then a far greater sense of monumentality than seeing the formation from some distance away, as in this atmospheric photograph, but of course I was little. Anyhow, in my dream I am back at the rock, and quite alone, searching in vain for the neighboring race course, where I know I am expected for the Easter races, always (I gather) an amusing country meeting. While searching, I am also slightly irritated by other visitors, gigglesome strangers, a fraction shrill in their cheerfulness, who are rushing about and entertaining each other by shouting up rock faces “Mir-aaaaanda!” in acknowledgment of the character who goes missing in the film, and the novel by Joan Lindsay. This disturbs the otherwise peaceful atmosphere of the crackling, eucalyptussy slopes, and further distracts me. As a far-off place I suppose Hanging Rock somehow reminds me of my late mother and father: quiet, solid, dependable, self-contained, self-disciplined, old. They, too, are missing. I must be sure to go back on my next visit.

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