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Picnic at Hanging Rock


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‘She felt herself choking and tore at her frilled lace collar. “Miranda!”’

Fainting spells, frilly collars, mystery, hysteria and a truly awesome backdrop – Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock might be 50 years old this year, but it remains a point of Australian cultural obsession. The book – written by Lindsay in just four weeks back in 1967 – has inspired a film, a radio play, stage adaptations, fashion spreads, music videos and a new miniseries coming out this year.

Why do we keep coming back to Lindsay’s eerie tale of a Valentine’s Day school picnic gone wrong? Perhaps it’s the ambiguity around fact and fiction; perhaps it’s the striking combinations of imagery or maybe it’s the maddening obscurity of the ending.

At this celebration of Lindsay’s iconic novel, we’ll discuss the true story that inspired Lindsay, the troubling history of Hanging Rock itself, the strange saga of the book’s excised chapter and why Lindsay’s tale continues to haunt and provoke Australian storytellers today.


Helen Morse

Helen Morse is well known to theatre-goers for decades of work in the classics, contemporary plays and music theatre. Helen played the French teacher in Peter Weir’s film of Picnic at Hanging Rock. She received a Green Room award for Alma de Gröen’s play about Anna Akhmatova, The Woma... Read more

Janelle McCulloch

Janelle McCulloch is the author of 20 books, including a memoir and four books about Paris. Most of her books fall in the design/architecture/garden genres; however she has also written a novel and two biographies. She has worked as a journalist in London, a magazine editor on several design and lif... Read more

Tom Wright

Tom Wright started as a member of Barrie Kosky’s Gilgul Theatre in the early 1990s, then with Michael Kantor’s Mene Mene in the late 1990s. He has worked as an actor and director at the Melbourne Theatre Company, STCSA, Sydney Theatre Company, Playbox, La Mama, Company B, Anthill, Gilgul, Mene M... Read more

Helen Withycombe

Helen Withycombe is the Wheeler Centre’s Head of Programming. Before this, she was Programming Manager. Prior to joining the Wheeler Centre team, Helen had worked in the publishing industry for more than 10 years, most recently as a senior editor at Hardie Grant Books.


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