Hanging Rock is one of the most popular tourist spots in central Victoria. Located just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the area is a geographical formation that rises 718 meters above sea level and sits on a plain between Newham and Hesket. It is not just its natural wonder that has left people in awe at the sight of it. Over the years, the location became shrouded with a haunting mystery that remains unsolved to this day.
What Really Happened at Hanging Rock?
Hanging Rock gained notoriety thanks to a 1967 book by Joan Lindsay titled Picnic at Hanging Rock. Due to its rich context and themes, the novel is considered as one of the most important Australian books of all time. The book was made even more famous when director Peter Weir released a film adaptation in 1975.
The plot centered around a group of students from a women’s college who mysteriously disappear during a Valentine’s Day picnic at Hanging Rock. Aside from the mystery, the story explores the effects the girls’ disappearances have on the community.
The novel was so popular that it began to spark rumors that the disappearances of Miranda, Marion, Irma, and even Miss McCraw were true. The “historical” accounts that were attached to the published work only added fuel to the fire, which eventually led to the age-long question: Did the schoolgirls really disappear in Hanging Rock?
Apparently, there are no proven accounts of disappearing schoolgirls in Hanging Rock. Though there is a recorded tragedy of a man falling to his death during the early 1900s, the incident bears no relation to Lindsay’s novel.
Still, fans of the book continue to search long and wide for evidence of the event, the characters, or the fictional Appleyard College, but each investigation turns up with zero results. Tourists who flock to the area have even made it a custom to scream the name “Miranda!” at the top of the rock.
Probably the only one who can give a concrete answer to this question is Joan Lindsay, who passed away a few years after the release of the film. According to those who knew the author, Lindsay was a spiritualist who wrote the plot for Picnic at Hanging Rock based on a series of recurring dreams that haunted her day and night.
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The connection of Hanging Rock to the spiritual world
Hanging Rock sits close to other natural formations: The Colonnade, the Eagle, and the UFO. It served as a sacred Aboriginal site for the Wurundjeri people, whom Lindsay felt connected to on a spiritual level. During the 50th anniversary of her novel, it was revealed that even director Peter Weir felt a strange new energy as he filmed the movie on the exact site.
Interestingly enough, when Weir asked Lindsay if the novel was based on true events, she gave this cryptic answer: “Some of it is true and some of it isn’t.”