What Really Happened at Hanging Rock: The True Story
The extraordinary story behind the world-famous novel
Joan Lindsay's acclaimed mystery novel Picnic at Hanging Rock has everything an eerie crime story begs for - intrigue, horror and disappearances.
While many people believe the 1967 book is based on a true story, it is entirely fictional.
The historical Australian novel is one of the country's most famous pieces of literature.
It follows the story of an all girl's school picnic to Victoria's Hanging Rock in 1900, where a group of female students subsequently disappear.
While it is a work of fiction, Picnic at Hanging Rock has subtle similarities to real-life events, such at the well-known disappearance of the Beaumont Children at Glenelg Beach in South Australia in 1966.
Lindsay's writing also explores the ripple-effect of childhood abduction, disappearance and missing person cases in local communities.
The novel crosses the threshold between fiction and non-fiction, with an eery foreword at the beginning of the book.
Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock 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 important.
The idea of Picnic at Hanging Rock was born from a dream author Joan Lindsay had in 1966.
Lindsay knew Hanging Rock well due to spending summer picnics there during childhood holidays.
After waking from her dream, Lindsay wrote the book in only two weeks at her home in Victoria's Mulberry Hill.
When asked if it was real during a 1974 interview, Lindsay replied: 'Well, it was written as a mystery and it remains a mystery. If you can draw your own conclusions, that's fine, but I don't think that it matters.'
Picnic at Hanging Rock was made into a movie in 1975, directed by Peter Weir.
It was also recreated in a 2018 Australian mini-series with six episodes, starring Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer.
The cinematic iterations of the famous novel were well received - but the 1967 book remains a staple in Australian literature and is often read in school.