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MHS Library | Picnic at Hanging Rock

William Ford At the Hanging Rock 1875. National Gallery of Victoria

Set in the Macedon Ranges the locations will be familiar to many. The isolation described throughout the text is a reflection of the time, not only in rural Victoria, due to the limited forms of transport and communication. Cultivated landscapes, reflecting grand homes like those in Britain, and the harshness of the natural environment are referred to in detail. Appleyard College, set in a previously empty home, is a boarding school for girls and seems to have been directly transplanted from Britain. Within the college grounds itself, there is a concerted effort to contain and cultivate behaviours, the landscape and appearances, not always successfully. Beyond the college grounds the landscape, real and imagined is fraught with the possibility of danger and injury. Hanging Rock is described as a desirable and exciting destination but then quickly there is an allusion of menace and mystery. As the story unfolds so does the description of the minutiae of the landscape. 

Picnic at Hanging Rock Online Exhibition NFSA