Since the novel’s publication in 1967, Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, and its story of the inexplicable disappearance of schoolgirls and their teacher in 1900, has engrossed the Australian collective imaginary. Associations with the fictional vanishing of white women persistently trouble and haunt visitors to Hanging Rock. Each year, countless tourists climb the rock, calling out for the main character “Miranda”, and retell the tragic story of her loss. It’s time to end this habit. Let’s ask ourselves:
Why do we obsessively retell a myth of white vanishing?
Why don’t we cast as much attention to the actual losses and traumas that took place at the Rock?
Whose absences matter?
The region in which Hanging Rock is located, like the rest of Victoria and Australia, was settled by European invaders who through introduced diseases, violence and forced occupation, killed or displaced the original Aboriginal inhabitants. The effects of settler colonialism have severely disrupted the transmission of oral history so vital in Indigenous Australian cultures, which means the available knowledge about the traditional custodians of Hanging Rock and their cultural practices is fragmentary.
This campaign aims to direct attention to the real losses and traumas at Hanging Rock: the dispossession of Aboriginal people and destruction of culture which actually took place. It is initiated by independent, non-Aboriginal Australians who seek to challenge our fixation with white vanishing myths.
We implore non-Aboriginal Australians to learn their difficult place better:
Remember our troubling past
Remove the white vanishing myth
Rethink the stories we tell at Hanging Rock
MIRANDA MUST GO