As we drove north to Hanging Rock where we planned a short hike and some photography, we noticed the traffic getting thicker and thicker. We turn into the gate and were charged 10 AUD each. I was thinking this is a pretty steep price for a hike, but hey, that’s travel.
Seemingly, there were plenty of people just gunning to get up that hiking path as we had to park in a green patch along with about five hundred other outside enthusiasts, but then we discovered that most of the people weren’t there for the fresh air at all, they were there to bet on the horses. Every year, on New Year’s Day, Hanging Rock hosts a horse race, which is a fantastic place to people-watch—one of my favorite pastimes.
We, however, had a purpose and started up the hill. As we climbed, we would stop and look through crevices and off-shoots and on one of these we discovered that we could see part of the track from way up high. We stayed to watch of few of the races and take some good pictures, but then continued on our way enjoying the skinks and the flora. We also happened on a wallaby that posed for us for a few minutes, but that was on the way down.
We did head over to the races to try some Aussie festival food – potato pancakes and hamburgers. Now, we’ve had both those things before, like the potato pancakes in Germany and the hamburgers in the States, but I have to tell you we’ve never had anything like this before. I would categorize Aussie horse racing food and a “once in a lifetime experience,” for sure.
The best part of the races were the people and their um…accoutrements. We saw one guy in an orange tuxedo and top hat, but he kept moving too quick for me to get a photo of him. The women were really who you were meant to look at, with being all frocked up with a fascinator to match. Yeah, that’s an Aussie sentence which means the women were all dressed up in their finest dresses, high heels, and either a wide-brimmed hat or a frill-of-a-sort pinned to the top of their heads.
As the consummate tourist that I am, I deftly intercepted three girls sporting these toppers, aptly named “fascinators” and asked them what they were. As they had spent the last few hours betting and dare I say – drinking the day away, they were too happy to tell me all the facts about fascintors. Taking the place of the traditional hat worn at all the races, fascinators allows the wearer to be freer but as proper, still keep her head covered (well sorta!) We saw fascinators that ranged from one single, albeit long, feather, to bows, feathers, and mesh all rolled into a “piece”. Apparently the good ones cost between $70-400 AUD, and luckily for this girl, her mom made them in her kitchen. She made the one she was wearing that day!