You might be familiar with the 1970s Australian film Picnic at Hanging Rock. I don't need to fill you in on the details, because it doesn't have any, apart from the usual superfluous points about plot, character, music, cinematography, direction, etc, but basically, it's a simple, touching film about a gigantic mountain of rock that eats schoolgirls. Critics are divided on this point, as to why the mountain of rock eats schoolgirls, with some attributing it to malice, while others maintaining it has an allegorical point, but let's just say it gets pretty bloody there towards the end of the film.
Well, yesterday, my brother, the Baron and I found ourselves travelling down towards Hanging Rock area to participate in the Hanging Rock Harvest Picnic. We found that, far from distancing themselves from this rather bloody and gory legacy, the people at Woodend and Hanging Rock were eager to celebrate it. There was even a tree decorated with key scenes from the film, for some reason, under which children were dancing. This itself was passing strange, but more disturbing still, the children were dancing around to songs about the virtues of certain vegetables, while gigantic plastic animals on stage gesticulated at them. I wondered for a while if we'd stumbled on some pagan Children of the Corn, a la Stephen King's admirable bagatelle, but they seemed to refrain from sacrificing us in some primitive and gory ritual to propitiate the gods of the season, whether from whim or due to some elaborate mythological reason, I couldn't quite work out.
A little bit later we toddled off to have a closer look at the killer rock, and I was even more shocked to find that there was a little stone pathway leading all the way up to the top, and stairs, and a hand rail to assist the out-of-breath and infirm. It was as if the people of Woodend actually wanted to make it easier for the rock to eat people! We thought we were all pretty safe, as none of us were schoolgirls (or I know I wasn't, last time I checked, anyway), but it was the principle of the thing.
All very strange. What next, we wondered - the Wolf Creek Solo Walkabout Festival? The Jindabyne Fishing Fiesta? It makes you wonder, doesn't it.
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