Lady Joan Lindsay wrote Picnic at Hanging Rock at her Langwarrin South home ‘Mulberry Hill’ and held pre-production meetings for the film there also. She retained Mulberry Hill until her death in 1984 when she bequeathed the property to the National Trust.
Despite not being a filming location it was at Mulberry Hill that Joan literally dreamed Picnic at Hanging Rock into being and typed the book after making her longhand drafts.
“I just saw it all passing before my eyes usually lying in bed at night. When I woke up in the morning I knew exactly what the next bit was going to be. I never had any trouble.” Joan Lindsay (12)
“In the morning I would go straight up to the little room upstairs, sit on the floor, papers all around me like that, and just write like [a] demon, because I knew just exactly what was going to happen from the night before. It was almost as if it was before me, in a kind of, like a film.” Joan Lindsay (13).
Mulberry Hill was also the location of decisive pre-production meetings between Joan Lindsay and the film’s production team. Screenwriter Cliff Green, in an interview with Ina Bertrand, reveals how Joan retained control over key appointments:
“Joan Lindsay’s agent had done a, made a, very smart move as it turned out in the story of this film. He had required of Pat [Lovell] in the contract for the rights to the book, the proviso that Joan had right of refusal in the director and the screenwriter.” (14)
“I think first of all we’ve got to go to Melbourne and meet with Joan Lindsay and I’ll try to get the rights.” Patricia Lovell (15)
“She was married to Sir Daryl Lindsay and I met her at her wonderful farm out of Melbourne. We went there, Pat Lovell and I, with her with her publisher and she was going to approve me or not so it was strangely an audition and a director is not used to being auditioned.” Peter Weir (15)
Cliff Green, who Joan approved as screenwriter, also visited Mulberry Hill as did his painter friend Dale Marsh:
“I went over to to Joan Lindsay’s house over in Baxter, Harkaway, or somewhere round there, lovely place this they’ve got there. And I had a lovely relationship with her and old Daryl was sort of sitting in his studio he was not painting anymore but he was always wanted to have a whiskey with me and it was a very nice very nice period of my career writing time. He did he painted horses alot, he he got commissions to paint paint in his glory days [to] paint race horses and so on, and told me he that always painted them in grass because he couldn’t paint their feet. And a painter friend of mine Dale Marsh who lived in Warrandyte became besotted by this whole, he used to come over with me to Hanging Rock when it was being made and and he did a series of paintings of the young girls and the costumes and the characters and so on, one of which he presented to Joan which is still in the house because the house is now a National Trust house and it sits there with, which are, and it was a wonderful experience.” Cliff Green (14)
The original 1975 painting Dale Marsh presented to Joan, Schoolgirl at Hanging Rock, hangs in the Writing Room at Mulberry Hill.
Return to Hanging Rock Exhibition
Return to Hanging Rock, an exhibition celebrating 40 years since the filming of Picnic at Hanging Rock, showed at Mulberry Hill from 2 January 2016 to 27 March 2016 . Exhibits included film costume and historic artifacts from the film loaned by the National Film and Sound Archive. These included Sara Waybourne’s pinafore dress worn by Margaret Nelson (below).
Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive has a charming series of interviews with Anne Lambert (Miranda) in which she describes how executive producer Patricia Lovell kept Sara’s shoulder sleeves standing up:
Also on show at Mulberry Hill are a selection of Joan Lindsay’s personal St Valentine’s Day cards that were loaned to the production and appeared in the film.
A 1974 interview with Joan Lindsay that is referenced on this page was filmed in a corner of Mulberry Hill’s back garden. By comparing a still from the interview to brickwork in the wall behind Joan the location can be identified as the northwest corner of the Mulberry Hill back garden (thanks also to Mulberry Hill’s National Trust staff for their help in identifying this location).
The still from the 1974 interview:
The same spot in the back garden of Mulberry Hill in January 2016:
As well as displaying day to day objects from Joan’s life, including her clothing and toiletries, Mulberry Hill showcases some exquisite works of art by Joan, her husband Daryl, and others. A small selection of these include:
Hanging Rock by John Percival (1971):
Diogenes Monument Anneyelong looking Sth towards Mt Macedon by William Blandowski (1822-1876) (see a digitised version here)
Some modern art also on display includes:
Clocks with faces featuring stills from the film by Robert Crispe:
Noela Stratford, Nocturne: Hanging Rock 4, 2002: Unfortunately my camera captured more of the reflection of Joan Lindsay’s bedroom than the painting (see the picture as the artist intended here) but the resulting hybrid combined the artist’s nocturnal vision with the room where Joan dreamed Picnic at Hanging Rock into being:
The Return to Hanging Rock exhibition mobile guide provides meticulous detail about much of the artwork of Mulberry Hill.