Film

There’s A Campaign To Stop The ‘White Vanishing’ Myth Of Hanging Rock

The 'Miranda Must Go' protest wants greater recognition for displaced Aboriginal Australians.

Since the success of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel Picnic at Hanging Rock — and Peter Weir’s movie adaptation of the story in 1975 — Hanging Rock’s eerie formations in central Victoria have been primarily associated with white teenagers in cream lace, and one hysterical girl screaming “MIRANDA!!”

Now there’s a push to recognise the place that Hanging Rock, which is on Wurundjeri land, holds for Aboriginal Australians. The ‘Miranda Must Go’ campaign is trying to reverse the “white vanishing” myth associated with the area, as it overshadows the Indigenous history of the land.

“The main goal of the campaign is to make people think about how obsessively we retell the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is essentially a fiction of vanished white school girls,” the campaign creator Amy Spiers told the ABC. “While on the other hand we actively ignore the removal and displacement of Aboriginal people that actually took place at Hanging Rock.”

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The petition aims to address the lack of information available about the Indigenous history of the lad, compared to the wealth of information available about the Picnic at Hanging Rock story. According to the campaign, most of the original Aboriginal inhabitants died of introduced diseases such as smallpox, or were killed and displaced by early settlers. The survivors were moved to a reserve in Healesville.

“This history of violence, abuse, dispossession, invasion and theft of Aboriginal land is cursorily mentioned or ignored in tourist presentations at the site,” the petition reads.

On Valentine’s Day, there’s a planned protest at Hanging Rock Reserve that calls for an acknowledgment of the suffering of First Peoples over fictional stories about missing schoolgirls. “Hanging Rock visitors should be haunted by this history of dispossession and violence, rather than the mythic vanishing of white schoolgirls,” the petition says.

You can read more about the Miranda Must Go campaign here.