'Picnic At Hanging Rock' Is The 1970s Cult Classic You Should Get To Know

An Australian television network has just announced the novel will be adapted into a six-part mini-series. We explore all you need to know about the spooky tale


If you were a fan of The Virgin Suicides and The Leftovers, you might want to clear your schedule next year, as there's a new remake of Joan Lindsay's seminal novel The Picnic At Hanging Rock.

No clue what it is?

Don't worry, you soon will.

Published in 1967, the novel follows the disappearance of three schoolgirls and their governess on Valentine's Day in 1900. Following its publication, the text garnered international success and was subsequently adapted for the big-screen in Peter Weir's 1975 film.


Hello cult following. 


The inspiration of music videos and fashion collections, the film has just be commissioned to be remade into a six-part mini-series in Australia and will be pushed out to international audiences in 2017.

So, what's so great about an eerie story of disappearing schoolgirls:

The narrative

Adapted from the novel, the film tells the story of four students from Appleyard College Educational Establishment for Young Ladies (Miranda, Irman, Marion and Edith) who fancy themselves as young explorers and go off in search of the mysteries of Hanging Rock – a volcanic mound that their headmistress Mrs Appleyard describes as both a 'geological marvel and . . . extremely dangerous'. 

Unfortunately for the group, only Edith returns (cue fits of hysteria and delusion) before governess Miss McCraw vanishes soon after. A week later, Irma returns but doesn't remember anything of what happened. 

Creepy or what?


The fashion

The girls' broderie anglaise dresses, white lace sleeves, boater hats, knickerbockers and pointed black boots have inspired the likes of Valentino, Self Portrait, Alexander McQueen and become a mainstay in fashion. Partial to a cream lace blouse? This is why. 

It's not hard to see where Sofia Coopola got her inspiration for the white-clad sisters of The Virgin Suicides.

The hidden truths

If you're expecting a resolution to the story, think again, because to put it plain and simple, there isn't one.

From the beginning of the novel, we're already aware that three schoolgirls and a teacher disappear on a trip to Hanging Rock. Throughout the piece, director Peter Weir provides clues and hints as to what might have happened to the quartet but ultimately, we never learn their fate. 

Frustrating? Yes.

Intriguing? Ever more so. But, let's not forget Weir is the man behind Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Truman Show (1998) – suffice to say, the man loves a mystery. 


Perhaps in the one-hour mini-series we'll finally learn exactly what happened to the women? Perhaps not. Actually, we're not too sure which we'd prefer. 


It could be a true story

Author Joan Lindsay once said: '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'.

But it does Joan, it does!

At the end of the book, Lindsay refers to a newspaper report in 1914 which suggests there are real-life articles on disappearances at the wrong. 

White lace, unsolved mysteries, cliffhanger endings, what's not to love? 

Watch the trailer for the 1975 film below:

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