The Macedon Ranges lie just outside of Melbourne and are a ripper spot to take the whole family for a day of bushwalking (running), rock climbing (scrambling) and picnicking.
- Easy, short hikes
- Family friendly
- Views across the Macedon Region
The Mamelons of the Macedon Ranges
As a family, we’ve visited the Macedon Ranges plenty of times over the last five years, staying on a family farm near Romsey just outside of Melbourne. Usually trips are filled with farm chores that offer a welcome break from urban life (not that Canberra is particularly urban!), and occasional forays into nearby towns to visit cafes, playgrounds and skateparks.
But on our latest visit, after years of driving past brown tourist signs pointing out local attractions, we decided to finally be tourists in the Macedon Ranges.
Not far from the farm, rest two natural landmarks, both formed from volcanic activity six million year ago. The first, Camels Hump, is a rocky outcrop in the Macedon Ranges, and is on the road to Mount Macedon. Second, on our list anyway, is the centre-piece of the region’s tourism, Hanging Rock.
Both Hanging Rock and Camels Hump are classified as mamelons (French for nipple, or hill), which means they were formed by ‘stiff magma pouring from a vent and congealing in place’, according to ol’ Wiki.
The cool thing about this kind of rock is that cooling and erosion processes have crafted some pretty stunning pillars, crevices and formations – such as the literal and titular Hanging Rock.
First on our tourist hitlist was the short, punchy walk to the Camels Hump lookout. The walk starts from the Camels Hump Car Park, on the right hand side of the road up to Mount Macedon.
With our five-year-old leading the way, and our five-week-old strapped to my wife’s chest, we entered the trees and began the walk. These towering trees provided welcome relief from the sun and kept us cool during the ascent.
At the summit, there’s a rocky stairway leading up to the lookout point, with a marker to indicate elevation and waypoints near and far. Views from Camels Hump can stretch for miles, but our visit was rather hazy as the skies to the east were carrying traces of the devastating bushfires sweeping the country at the time.
Lookouts are all well and good, but it wasn’t long before our son’s eyes, (and ours too), were caught by a well-trodden path leading away from the lookout and towards more interesting rocky outcrops and viewpoints.
Camels Hump is a well known climbing and bouldering spot in the area, with plenty of routes mapped out on thecrag.com. I’m pretty sure none of the boulders on top of the hump is worthy of being listed, but they provided more than enough entertainment for the little fella to explore before heading back to the car.
Next up, we set our sights on Hanging Rock. I’m not sure who ‘owns’ this natural landmark, but it’s currently part of a fenced off enclosure that charges an entry fee to visit. This is one reason why I’ve avoided visiting in the past. Nevertheless the rocky formation protrudes proudly from the surrounding landscape and sparks curiosity.
Entering the Hanging Rock enclosure, it definitely has the feel of a tourist hotspot, with a packed car park, discovery centre, cafe and plenty of visitors picnicking around the grounds.
Shaking off the slightly uncomfortable feeling that goes along with touring with the masses, we began the walk to the summit. Much steeper than the Camels Hump ascent, the track wends its way up the hill, detouring under the Hanging Rock, and past various other named rock formations.
Despite the crowds, and the queues of people waiting to get ‘that photo’ under the rock, our visit was actually pretty enjoyable.
There’s no denying that there’s something interesting and intriguing about the rock formations, and the views across the pastoral landscapes were very pleasant. Best of all, the maze of rock pillars at the summit was a veritable playground for scrambling, sliding and hide’n’seeking; the ice cream from the cafe wasn’t half bad either.
Overall, visiting these two Macedon mamelons made for a very pleasant family adventure, sparking particular curiosity and adventure in our five year old.
While I won’t be rushing back to Hanging Rock, Camels Hump will definitely become a regular addition to our trips to the farm and I can’t wait to return for a climb, a sunset and a scramble with my kid.
- Money for entry to Hanging Rock
How To Get There
Both Camels Hump and Hanging Rock are in the Macedon Ranges Region, approx one hour north of Melbourne. Take the M79 towards Woodend for your fastest route.
Woodend also has a pretty great pub, cafe and playground. You can also catch the train to Woodend and then ride to both locations if you’re up for a bit of a challenge.
- Rock Scrambling
- Picnic (at Hanging Rock)
- Climbing – only at Camels Hump
Beginner – suitable for hikers of all ages
Distance / Duration / Elevation
Camels Hump – less than 1000m / 45mins
Hanging Rock – 1500m / 1 hour / 100m approx.
Handy tip! Camels Hump is dog friendly (must be kept on a lead)