Why must Miranda go?

Since the novel’s publication in 1967, Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, and its story of the inexplicable disappearance of schoolgirls and their teacher in 1900, has engrossed the Australian public and pervaded the settler imaginary. For over fifty years, associations with the fictional vanishing of white women have persistently troubled and haunted visitors to Hanging Rock. Each year, countless tourists climb the rock, calling out for the main character “Miranda”, and retell the story of her loss. It’s time to end this habit. Let’s ask ourselves:

︎︎︎ Why do we obsessively retell a myth of white vanishing?
︎︎︎ Why don’t we cast as much attention to the actual losses and traumas that took place at the Rock?    
︎︎︎ Whose absences matter?

The region in which Hanging Rock is located was settled by European invaders who through introduced diseases, violence and forced occupation, killed or displaced First Peoples— the Djarra, Wurundjeri and Taungurung peoples of the Kulin Nation. This campaign aims to direct attention to the real losses and traumas at Hanging Rock: the dispossession of First Peoples and destruction of culture and Country which actually took place. It is initiated by independent, non-Indigenous Australians who seek to challenge our fixation with white vanishing myths.

We implore non-Indigenous Australians to learn their difficult place better:

︎︎︎ Remember our troubling past
︎︎︎ Remove the white vanishing myth
︎︎︎ Rethink the stories we tell at Hanging Rock

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#MirandaMustGo is a creative campaign that was first launched via social media in January 2017. It was conceived as part of non-Indigneous artist and researcher Amy Spiers’ creative practice-based PhD completed in 2018.

Amy’s PhD research investigated how a settler artist can responsibly support truth-telling about Australia’s colonial past, with particular focus on the iconic site of Hanging Rock, Central Victoria. #MirandaMustGo was the major creative output that drew on strategies from socially engaged art practice and media activism to critically question why First Peoples, and their very real losses and traumas caused by colonial invasion, were overshadowed by a fiction of vanishing white schoolgirls at Hanging Rock.

To date #MirandaMustGo has generated numerous news features, articles and media commentary, has been discussed by a range of theorists of art activism, literature, theatre, film, cultural studies and Australian history, and informed teaching of Picnic at Hanging Rock in secondary and tertiary education. Creative outcomes from the research, including the campaign website, posters and t-shirts, have been collected and archived by the National Library of Australia, and were shortlisted in the Incinerator Art Award: Art for Social Change in 2018.

#MirandaMustGo has prompted some reconsideration of the heritage information and narratives available about Hanging Rock. Most significantly, since the campaign’s launch all three First Peoples groups from the region—Taungurung, Djarra and Wurundjeri—have had their perspective on Hanging Rock sought out with more frequency and media generated by the campaign is referred to by people wishing to have a better understanding of the site’s colonial and Indigenous history. This website aims to continue to support people’s learning about Hanging Rock. If you have any questions about the campaign, or wish to contribute, contact Amy via amyspiers@gmail.com.

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We respectfully acknowledge that the place known by the European name of Hanging Rock in Central Victoria is located on the land of the Kulin Nation. For Wurundjeri, Taungurung and Djarra peoples Hanging Rock is a significant place, and known by some First Peoples as Ngannelong. We pay our respect to their Elders and ancestors, and recognise that First Peoples of this Country never ceded sovereignty.