Picnic At Hanging Rock | Joan Lindsay #AWWfiction

picnic at hanging rock.jpg

I’ve enjoyed highlighting and remembering all the Australian classics I’ve read over the years in preparation for November’s AusReading Month. And Flashback Friday has been a great motivator to get me to do one a week at least – thanks Lisa.

This weeks FF needs no introduction…well not in Australia anyway. Not only is Picnic At Hanging Rock a popular classic book from the 60’s it is also an iconic Australian movie from the 70’s. In the 80’s a resurgence of interest occurred when the ‘secret’ final chapter was published for the first time.

Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place.

Lindsay created a story set at the turn of the previous century with a distinct mystical true crime feel.

The day was Valentine’s Day – a hot summer’s day – and a group of school girls and their teachers went for a picnic to Hanging Rock in Victoria. A number of the girls disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The ending is deliberately ambiguous and has been highly debated over the years.

However in 1987, for those of us who had come of age with the book believing that it might have been based on real events, we were shocked to discover that there had been a chapter cut from the original book at the publishers request.

Lindsay had died in 1984, and the story went around that she refused to allow the final chapter to be published until after her death.

I personally was devastated to find out that the whole story was pure fiction from start to finish.

The final chapter revealed a time warp, supernatural ending that was far less satisfying than the ambiguity of old. The success of both book and movie hinged on the possibilities of truth, mystery & suspense.

As always, in matters of surpassing human interest, those who knew nothing whatever either at first or even second hand were the most emphatic in expressing their opinions; which are well known to have a way of turning into established facts overnight.

The 1975 movie was directed by Peter Weir. It was beautifully shot, the tension and drama were exquisitely crafted and it starred a who’s who of Australian tv and theatre at the time. The pan-pipe music is still haunting and evocative even if the acting looks & sounds a little dated.


It is now possible to view the movie each Valentine’s Day in the picnic grounds at the base of Hanging Rock. Naturally, it is screened after twilight! If you’d like see a few pics of the real Hanging Rock click here to go to my other blog, Four Seasons. We had a family holiday there in 2007.

At every step the prospect ahead grew more enchanting with added detail of crenellated crags and lichen-patterned stone. Now a mountain laurel glossy above the dogwood’s dusty silver leaves, now a dark slit between two rocks where maidenhair fern trembled like green lace.


11 thoughts on “Picnic At Hanging Rock | Joan Lindsay #AWWfiction

  1. I was going to school in Australia at the time when all the controversy over the final chapter was in the media, but I hadn't read the book and didn't really understand why readers were upset (actually, I still haven't read the book!). I remember the movie was shown at school so students could relate to what everyone was talking about. The movie really is beautiful and the mystery so intriguing!


  2. It is amazing how well the movie has held up over the years. The image of the girls disappearing through the rocks is burnt onto all our psyches!


  3. I'm relieved to tell you that I just finished Picnic at Hanging Rock…and really enjoyed it. It was a reread, and I didn't like it the first time. I was dreading telling you I didn't like it, but crisis averted, it was MUCH better this time around. Whew! No you won't disavow me! 🙂


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