Protection promise that rocks

A re-elected Labor state government plans to purchase Hanging Rock’s East Paddock.
Long championed by the community, the move is expected to give greater protection to the precinct, and its views, which was threatened by a development proposal five years ago.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne last week pledged $3 million to purchase the land and begin implementation of the Hanging Rock Strategic Plan to guide the next 50 years.
The state government also confirmed it accepted Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s requested changes regarding the East Paddock.
“High priority actions outlined in the strategic plan would also be fast-tracked, including new environmental protections, greater recognition of the Rock’s Aboriginal cultural significance and enhancing recreation opportunities,” Mr Wynne said.
The Planning Minister officially signed off on the Hanging Rock Strategic Plan with Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Macedon Ranges mayor Jennifer Anderson at the announcement last week, with a welcome to country.
Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas said the day marked a “great leap forwards” that the community had been waiting for at Hanging Rock.
“It’s played a significant role in the history of the Macedon Ranges and for our traditional owners for thousands and thousands of years, but over the past decade its role as a place of recreation has perhaps been emphasised at the expense of other values,” Ms Thomas said.
“What this announcement represents is that it puts our traditional owners right at the centre and at the heart of the ongoing management and governance of Hanging Rock.”
Strong community interest in preserving the precinct’s cultural history and natural beauty has been the catalyst for much change at the Rock.
Friends of Hanging Rock had long advocated for the East Paddock to be incorporated into the reserve to ensure long-term protection, said president Luke Speilvogel.
“This place is special. It has that natural and cultural value that had long been underappreciated.
“I started a petition five years ago when a conference centre was proposed for the East Paddock – that proposal went a long way to killing the golden goose.
“Now we feel that we’ve got the full support of council and government, the community and indigenous groups. Now have a cohesive plan. We can start moving forward and it’s less about protecting it, more about our vision for what this place can be,” Mr Spielvogel said.
Ms Thomas said the state government was “moving immediately to place a significant landscape overlay over the entire Hanging Rock precinct”.
She said rezoning would be considered through the implementation of the strategic plan and negotiations with the shire to purchase the East Paddock.
Dating back more than six million years, Hanging Rock is considered a sacred place for local Aboriginal people, and has reached worldwide fame with Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, as well as a film and new TV series of the same name.
The Rock is also a central part of the Macedon Ranges’ story, playing host to the biggest names in music, as well as the famous Hanging Rock picnic races which have been running since 1886.

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