No picnic at Hanging Rock

16 November 2019

Ballarat to Hanging Rock, 93km

Our journey to Victoria’s State Capital, Melbourne, put us back on our Australian film trail. You will remember our stop at Martindale Hall in South Australia or rather Appleyard College? Well, we couldn’t not stop at the eponymous setting for Picnic at Hanging Rock.

When it looked like our route would take us passed the infamous rocks I decided to read the film’s original source material. Joan Lindsay’s novel is as full of the gothic horror and mass hysteria that follows a fictional schoolgirls’ outing to a real life popular picnic spot as Peter Weir’s film.

So synonymous are the rocks with the novel and the film that the Visitors’ Centre is as much about that story as the story of their geology, their surrounding flora and fauna and their traditional owners, the Wurundjeri people. The novel’s narrative of the mysterious of disappearance of four young women amongst the rocks and its impact on the local community leaves a very haunting atmosphere and Joan Lindsay’s words describe the place far better than any of mine.

The immediate impact of its soaring peaks induced a silence so impregnated with its powerful presence that even Edith was struck dumb.”

“the intricate construction of long vertical slabs; some smooth as giant tombstones, others grooved and fluted by prehistoric architecture of wind and water, ice and fire.

“Huge boulders, originally spewed red hot from the boiling bowels of the earth

now come to rest, cooled and rounded in forest shade”

Not wishing to tempt the same fate that befell Miranda, Irma, Marion and Greta I left Stefan sitting on a rock looking out at the view to clamber to the summit amongst the rocks. It was so tempting to recreate Edith’s haunting, warning yell of “Miranda, Miranda”. I resisted and so it seems did everyone else visiting that day but I’ll bet many haven’t. I also resisted the temptation to graffiti my name on a rock unlike another Scott in 1866.

Ok, so we were not exactly struck dumb by the place like Edith. We found no sign of the missing girls nor the dark atmosphere some say surrounds the rocks but it was certainly a captivating place, made all the more intriguing by Joan Lindsay’s imagination and Peter Weir’s cinematic vision.

Having arrived at the rocks mid morning it was too early for lunch. A picnic might have been tempting fate too much anyway. Instead we made our way safely onwards to our third State Capital…

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