Picnic at Hanging Rock

The Wheeler Centre

Event Date: 
18 May 2017
Author / Presenters: 
Helen Morse, Janelle McCulloch, Tom Wright, and Helen Withycombe

‘She felt herself choking and tore at her frilled lace collar. “Miranda!”’

Fainting spells, frilly collars, mystery, hysteria and a truly awesome backdrop – Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock might be 50 years old this year, but it remains a point of Australian cultural obsession. The book – written by Lindsay in just four weeks back in 1967 – has inspired a film, a radio play, stage adaptations, fashion spreads, music videos and a new miniseries coming out this year.

Why do we keep coming back to Lindsay’s eerie tale of a Valentine’s Day school picnic gone wrong? Perhaps it’s the ambiguity around fact and fiction; perhaps it’s the striking combinations of imagery or maybe it’s the maddening obscurity of the ending.

At this celebration of Lindsay’s iconic novel, we’ll discuss the true story that inspired Lindsay, the troubling history of Hanging Rock itself, the strange saga of the book’s excised chapter and why Lindsay’s tale continues to haunt and provoke Australian storytellers today.