Aside from the fact that Picnic at Hanging Rock is about a group of girls and their governess who mysteriously go missing in a tragedy that shakes the entire community, this BBC2 drama might make you want to move to Australia immediately.
But where were the vast landscapes and the sumptuous interiors actually filmed? Here’s what you need to know.
Where is Picnic at Hanging Rock set?
The drama is set in Australia, where it was also filmed.
Where was Appleyard College filmed?
Appleyard College was filmed across six locations in Melbourne, which were used for interiors and exteriors.
These are: Werribee Mansion, Como House (South Yarra), Labassa House (Caulfield) and Loretto Hall (Toorak), Wattle Park Chapel (Wattle Park) and Rippon Lea Estate (Elsternwick).
Production designer Jo Ford said: “It’s a great period look, because it’s high Victorian – when everything was well and truly over-designed and everything was just a bit mad.
“Doing Picnic at Hanging Rock in Melbourne was great because Melbourne is such an antique town that luckily the supply of so much of the props that we needed to dress with was available here. We’ve shown Melbourne off beautifully, I think.”
Is Hanging Rock a real place – and did they film there?
Yes, Hanging Rock is a real place. Located in Woodend, Victoria, it is a national park.
In fact, the TV drama was actually filmed on location across five busy days, when curious visitors were able to watch on as the girls (costumed in white dresses) filmed their scenes in the rock crevices and bushland. The production brought in two crews to blitz the filming, with between 100 and 120 crew members at the site each day.
Natalie Dormer, who plays Mrs Appleyard, said: “This was my first trip to Australia, so to stand in the Macedon region and look out over the Hanging Rock made a big impression on me as well. No acting required.
“I was overwhelmed by the beauty and scale of Australian landscape. The Australian landscape is a character in itself in Picnic at Hanging Rock. It has an overwhelming power and informs a lot of the characters’ journeys.”
What is the history of Hanging Rock?
Also known as Mount Diogenes, Hanging Rock is a geological formation in central Victoria, Australia, 70km to the northwest of Melbourne. It’s the site of a former volcano, and the Rock itself is a volcanic plug (or mamelon). Its unusual rock formations have been formed by weathering and erosion.
It traditionally belonged to local Aboriginal tribes and was of key cultural and spiritual significance, but in the mid 19th-century – a few decades before the events of this story – the tribes were forced away from Hanging Rock by colonialist settlers.
Hanging Rock became a place for recreation and tourism over the following century, but it was Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel Picnic at Hanging Rock which really put it on the map.
Since then the reserve has become pretty busy, with markets and horse races, the Hanging Rock Discovery Centre, and car shows. It has even hosted big musical events, with concerts by Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Ed Sheeran and Leonard Cohen.
Where were the village scenes filmed?
In the regional town of Clunes, where the production team transformed the main street into a 1900s thoroughfare with horses and carriages, and local residents as the extras. The whole thing took two days to film.