The Secrets of Hanging Rock

The final chapter of "Picnic at Hanging Rock" was entitled "The Secret of Hanging Rock" and was published by Angus and Robertson Publishers in 1987, three years after Joan Lindsay's death. The cover deatures a reproduction of Frederick McCubbin's 1886 painting; "Lost."

This final chapter was a short 12 page ending to the book which was separated from the original manuscript in order to allow Pat Lovell and Peter Weir to create an open-ended 'Hitchcock' type mystery surrounding the St. Valentine's day picnic setting. The idea was that the publishers and film production unit would have a better chance of turning the story into such a theme without chapter 18.

This was agreed to by Lindsay on the understanding that Chapter 18 be published after her death. At the same time chapter 3 had to be altered to make up for the loss of information. The changes included the scene requiring the girls on the rock going out of view, the addition of another slope and a belt of dogwoods, and a notebook and pencil belonging to Marion being discarded near the monolith and never being found again, not even by the police bloodhound. The idea of adding dogwood was to make it difficult for the visitor to the site to map the path described in the book.

My own impression of the introduction of the "Clown-Woman" in chapter 18 whom the audience knows as Miss Greta McGraw, and her disappearance into the rock and the light along with Marion and Miranda, gives the book an "Alice in Wonderland" or "Looking Glass" ambience which is an obvious translation into the occult in itself. It is apparent that this "dimensional" incorporation in to the story would have altered the intrigue immensely had the chapter remained intact.

I personally prefer the story in it's original entirety.

Cheers...Bill S.

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