The Friends of Hanging Rock have been rocking along for over thirty years.
In 1985 Nathan Alexander, then studying landscape architecture, completed a design and management plan for Hanging Rock: Spirit and Earth: Setting the scene for experiencing Hanging Rock (PDF 67MB).
Nathan had heard about the Friends of the Organ Pipes, and thought a similar group would be useful at Hanging Rock. In 1986 Guido Bigolin, the ranger then and now, introduced Nathan to a few other frequent visitors who cared for the place, and the Friends of Hanging Rock were launched in April 1987.
Their first public activity was a botanical walk around the rock in September 1986. Since then the Friends have held at least one activity most months. Typically each year we count koalas, plant trees, view the wildlife and native plants, and visit a public place that shares some similarities with the Rock.
From the earliest days the group has advocated preservation of the Rock’s unique character, restoration of the remnant natural ecology of its surrounds, and worked to encourage others to experience and value the whole reserve. Our achievements include:
- encouraging transparency and consultation on development proposals for the Eastern Paddock – a house in 1987 and a resort in 2013
- documenting the reserve’s diverse plant species
- persuading the Victorian Land Conservation Council in 1987 that Hanging Rock has ‘significant geological, scenic, historical and floristic values’ that should be protected
- helping persuade the then Shire of Woodend in 1989 to purchase the adjoining Eastern Paddock
- initiating the undergrounding of the electricity line in the reserve
- influencing the 1993 management plan
- incorporation in 2014
- assisting listing of the reserve on the Victorian Heritage Register in 2015.
Two locals deserve special mention for their efforts over more than twenty years – Martin Joiner as coordinator, and Barbara Strange as secretary.
From the very beginning, membership and activities have been free and open to all – and they remain so today.