Tania Maxwell bats with Hanging Rock

Media statement

April 8, 2022

Tania Maxwell MP has implored Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to allow small Macedon Ranges communities to keep playing sport at Hanging Rock oval.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria said there was no justification to stop the 120-year-old local cricket club from fielding all-age competition on the historic ground but allow concerts, car rallies and fairs in its place and horse racing to continue around its perimeter.

Ms Maxwell made the appeal after she tabled in the Legislative Council on April 5 a petition signed by 1103 people calling on the state government to amend a draft master plan so local sporting clubs can still use the picturesque oval below the Rock.

“The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s draft master plan for the Hanging Rock precinct flies in the face of the aspirations and traditions of the people of Newham, Hesket, Carlsruhe, Cobaw and Rochford,” she said.

“It seems also to be at odds with a 2018 strategic plan for the precinct and the views of local MP and Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas.

“Ms Thomas recently spoke in Parliament about much-needed sporting facilities in nearby Gisborne, saying: ‘Sport plays such an important role in the everyday life of our communities. And when sports clubs tell us they lack the facilities to play the sports they love, it means that the effects are felt by everyone…’.

“Well, a go-ahead for this master plan will be felt by everyone who uses and enjoys the oval for community sport.

“Local people feel devastated by the prospect that the master plan, as written, would remove cricket without offering a new home for the local kids, young people and adults who love it.

“The game’s been played here since 1864, Hanging Rock Cricket Club has more than 100 members, and this past season it fielded four junior and three senior teams including girls and women.

“Compared with horse-racing, concerts and similar big visitor events, local cricket must be the activity with the lightest touch on the precinct’s environment.

“But bureaucrats haven’t seemed to grasp the cricket club’s common-sense claim on this vital point.”

Ms Maxwell said the Rock’s Aboriginal cultural heritage was clearly significant.

“There’s so much great work going on in Victoria to advance everyone’s understanding and awareness of First People’s culture,” she said.

“In the same spirit as expressed by the cricket club, surely environmental, cultural and sporting traditions can co-exist in a supportive and respectful way in this wonderful place.”

Comments by Hanging Rock Cricket Club officials and players:

“The last couple of years have been tough enough. Keeping the kids and other players at the club safe and healthy and active through three COVID lockdowns has been an exhausting effort from dozens of volunteers, many of whom were hit hard financially during that time. In the middle of that, the club rooms were broken into and wrecked by vandals. We’ve only just managed to complete those repairs. And now the government is kicking us out without a skerrick of support, or any plan for the future. It’s a death sentence for the club.”
Stephen Mitchell, Vice President

“Since joining the club in 2015, it has provided me with a vital outlet, a chance to play sport and give me a sense of community. My partner and I moved to the Macedon Ranges in 2015 and the club has helped provide that rooting to the local community. The club location is what first inspired me to join, and Hanging Rock has since become a second home, so much so that my partner and I are planning to one day tie the knot there. If the club was to move, then it will not only lose that presence in the local community, but it will also lose its identity. It is after all the Hanging Rock Cricket Club!”
Clinton Sterlson, Secretary

“Hanging Rock Cricket Club is all about families and community and giving girls and boys a fair go. The government could have the decency to look after those kids but instead they’re chasing tourist dollars.”
Peter Walsh, President

“It’s pretty humble. And we don’t take up much room. For us not to be a part of the proposal I see as a bit of an oversight.”
Matt Shanahan, player and parent of three junior players

“We’re the Heelers, we’re at the Rock, and we love it here. We don’t want it to be anywhere else.”
Felix, 12, player

“My daughter came to cricket as an observer before Christmas, and we pointed out at each training session the other girls who were participating. After the Christmas break the amazing coach of the U11s group met Lucy and asked her to join in, his partner introduced their daughter to her, and she joined in. In Lucy’s words after the training session, ‘That was so much fun, I’m going to join in every week and play the games too when I’m bigger. It is amazing we get to play here with the Rock’.”
Lucy, 7, and her mum

“Cricket is a real team game, we get to talk on the ­field with our friends.”
Ben, 9, player

Petition – read into Hansard (Legislative Council) Tue, April 5, 2022: 1103 signatures

Link

The Petition of certain citizens of the State of Victoria draws to the attention of the Legislative Council that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) draft Master Plan for the use of Hanging Rock (the Rock) has significantly shifted focus towards events and tourism at the expense of community involvement and recreation.

Children and adults in the area will have their local sport and recreation facilities taken from them and DELWP is proposing no viable alternative. In particular, the Hanging Rock Cricket Club, established in 1893, has a membership of 100 people with three senior teams, four junior teams and a proud record of supporting women’s cricket.

The Cricket Club provides a safe place for children to play sport in a rural environment where venues for such recreation are limited. Losing access to much needed open space will have a significant and detrimental effect on the tight-knit community around the Rock, which is expanding with many young families.

Removal of a well-supported club from a vital recreation space reflects a desire to maximise profits from a popular and iconic location. In doing so, it sacrifices the wellbeing of the community and abandons the youth of the area.

The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Council call on the Government to amend the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s draft Master Plan for Hanging Rock to allow local sport within the Hanging Rock precinct.