AT HANGING ROCK by Joan Lindsay, the famous novel
telling the mysterious tale of a group of schoolgirls and one teacher
who, on Valentines Day 1900, disappeared up on Hanging Rock, never to
be seen again.
To this day, there is still a great deal of confusion and
misunderstanding surrounding the story by the general public.
Why won't the mystery die?
Partially due to the fact that the original conclusion to the novel
remained unpublished until the year 1987, when the final chapter was
finally released, this was as per Joan Lindsay's wishes whom along with
her publishers, made the wise decision to pull the final chapter before
the novels original publication in 1967.
This was purposely done to give the reader the ultimate sense of
mystery and compound the idea that it perhaps was a true and unsolved
It was upon Lindsay's wishes that the last Chapter be released three
years after her death.
Titled "The Secret of Hanging Rock" the last chapter finally solved the
mystery for all. It indicated that the girls met a rather supernatural
and mystical ending. I will let readers track down their own copy and
enjoy the final chapter for themselves however.
Do People Believe Its A True Story?
human nature to repeat strange stories about places we know. How many
times have you heard about the local "axe murder house" up the road,
where there actually was no axe murder or in fact any murder there, but
there sure is one hec of a story about that house, a story that never
These stories are part of our makeup and we relish telling them to
others, gaining that sense of satisfaction of telling a spooky story
and seeing the shocked and slightly unnerved reaction from our friends
Picnic at Hanging Rock has now gained Urban Legend status, even though
its based on a novel, its a story to be told when visiting the area or
speaking of Hanging Rock itself, being a true site that any person can
visit and climb for themselves. What could be more fun, to visit the
ancient monolith and tell the spooky story of how the girls disappeared
up on top and were never found.
People have also been slightly mislead by the author herself.
"Whether (the book) is Fact or Fiction, my
readers must decide for themselves. As the fateful picnic took place in
the year nineteen hundred, and all the characters who appear in this
book are long since dead, it hardly seems to matter".
Lindsay also shrewdly mentions a newspaper report of 1914 in the end of
the book, giving one the impression there are actual articles on the
disappearance to be tracked down and found.
Unfortunately these articles do not exist.
on, when talking about the novel, Lindsay ambiguously stated in an
interview with the Melbourne Herald "I can't
tell you whether the story is fact or fiction . . . but a lot of very
strange things have happened around the area of Hanging Rock - things
that have no logical explanation".
Of course statements such as this imbedded
the story as a true one in people's minds.
was well known that Lindsay became tired of people writing to her
asking about the ending, but she continued to guard the secret of the
last chapter until after her death.
there have been searches for articles, police records, and other
information relating to the story. Once again, none exist.
characters were an invention for the Novel, the places are based on
memories from Lindsay's childhood and do include some actual real
places, but most, such as Appleyard College are completely fictional.
a close friend who works in the State Library of Victoria, I'm amused
to hear her weekly stories of how many people think they are the first
to have the idea to investigate the mystery for themselves. They
confidently walk in expecting to find the newspaper articles from the
late 1800's and early 1900's on the disappearances but are sadly
There have been many accounts of the staff in State Library who
regularly have to deal with people breaking down in tears, throwing
hysterics and being informed that its not a true story. Most simply do
not want to believe this fact.
The responses of the public vary from utter despair to tears and anger.
The staff are now armed and ready to argue, as most people DO argue the
point and still continue to believe, such is the stubbornness of human
I guess people want to hold onto that childhood mystery that we all
loved and were amazed by. Needless to say how embarrassed they must
novel was set on Valentine's Day, February 14th, 1900 on a Saturday.
The actual day, in real life, was a Wednesday. This would perhaps, to
most people, be the first clue the story wasn't at all true.
characters in the story never existed. There are no records of their
births, deaths or existence anywhere within Australia or overseas. Any
similarities to live people is purely coincidental.
are no police records of the events on Hanging Rock. However there was
a story that the Police Station at Woodend had burnt down, destroying
all records. This never happened and was a little too convenient for
the story. Another clue that the story isn't real.
is one record of a young man falling and dying from Hanging Rock in the
early 1900's. But this was recorded and solved by Police and had no
connection to the Hanging Rock Story.
Appleyard College itself does not exist but was based on the school
from Lindsay's childhood in Melbourne.
the filming at Hanging Rock itself, Peter Weird tells how the effect
where the light streamed down through the trees at Hanging Rock was
only visible for one hour of the day when the sun was in the exact
spot. They would have to film in one hour lots every day.
Rock still suffers from its Haunted story to this day. But the visitors
are many and most suffer small accidents such as scrapes and scratches.
There are no mysterious disappearances up on the rock.
is an exhibit dedicated to the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock located
at the site itself. This also gives the impression its a true story and
does not make a statement anywhere that its pure fiction.
Rock is open to the public visit their website http://www.hangingrock.info/
can also visit Joan Lindsay's house at Langwarrin on the Mornington
- Hanging Rock /Secret of Hanging Rock
Childe's Picnic at Hanging Rock Information
Book Orphanage - Joan Lindsay, The Mystique of Hanging