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In a pseudo-historical afterword purportedly extracted from a 1913 Melbourne newspaper article, it is written that both the college and the Woodend Police Station, where records of the investigation were kept, were destroyed by a bush fire in the summer of 1901.
The chapter ends with Irma "tearing and beating at the gritty face on the boulder with her bare hands." The missing material amounts to about 12 pages; the remainder of the publication The Secret at Hanging Rock contains discussion by other authors, including John Taylor and Yvonne Rousseau.
The suspension of the corsets and description of the hole in space suggest that the girls have encountered some sort of time warp, which is compatible with Lindsay's fascination with and emphasis on clocks and time in the novel.
Lindsay claimed to have written the novel based on an idea she had in a dream.
In a 2017 article in The Age, it was noted: "The dream had centred on a summer picnic at a place called Hanging Rock, which Joan knew well from her childhood holidays.
Mike Fitzhubert embarks on a private search of the rock and discovers Irma, unconscious and on the verge of death.
When he fails to return from his search, he is found in an unexplained daze, sitting at the rock with Irma, by his friend and uncle's coachman, Albert Crundall.Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction, my readers must decide for themselves.As the fateful picnic took place in the year nineteen hundred, and all the characters who appear in this book are long since dead, it hardly seems important. When they arrive, the students lounge about and eat a lunch.Concerned parents begin withdrawing their daughters from the prestigious college, prompting various staff to leave; the college's handyman and maid quit their jobs, and the French instructor, Mlle.Dianne de Poitiers, announces that she will be getting married and leaving the college as well.Although the events depicted in the novel are entirely fictional, it is framed as though it is a true story, corroborated by ambiguous pseudohistorical references.Its irresolute conclusion has sparked significant public, critical, and scholarly analysis, and the narrative has become a part of Australia's national folklore as a result.A junior governess at the college, Dora Lumley, also leaves with her brother Reg, only for both to be killed in a hotel fire.Amidst the unrest both in and around the college, Sara vanishes, only to be found days later, having apparently committed suicide (her body was found directly beneath the school's tower, with her head "crushed beyond recognition"). Appleyard, distraught over the events that have occurred, kills herself by jumping from a peak on Hanging Rock.Several organized searches of the picnic grounds and the area surrounding the rock itself turn up nothing.Meanwhile, the students, teachers and staff of the college, as well as members of the community, grapple with the riddle-like events.