Soap World - - CONTENT -

The school­girls of Ap­p­le­yard Col­lege set off in their buggy on an ex­cur­sion to re­mem­ber.

There’s some­thing most un­usual about Hang­ing Rock, the dra­matic nat­u­ral won­der at Mount Dio­genes, 70km from Mel­bourne. The lo­cal indige­nous clans know it, the re­cent im­mi­grants re­alise it and it’s some­thing re­spected and feared by all those drawn there.

So be­fore a group of school­girls from Ap­p­le­yard Col­lege set off for a Valen­tine’s Day pic­nic at the rock, their head­mistress Mrs Hester Ap­p­le­yard warns them to be care­ful. “Do not let your­self get into trou­ble,” are her part­ing words as she waves the girls off in their buggy.

Those words will haunt her: by the end of the day on the open­ing episode of new Aussie drama series Pic­nic at Hang­ing

Rock, three of the girls have van­ished, and the en­su­ing scan­dal that erupts is enough to ruin ev­ery­thing the head­mistress has worked for to date.

Miranda Reid (Lily Sul­li­van), Irma Leopold (Sa­mara Weav­ing) and Mar­ion Quade (Madeleine Mad­den) are last seen walk­ing into the trails across the rock, with class­mate Edith (Ruby Rees) lag­ging be­hind. Hours later, only a dis­tressed Edith re­turns from the trek, and she’s way too trau­ma­tised to speak about what hap­pened to her friends.

As the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into that fate­ful af­ter­noon at Hang­ing Rock opens, it be­comes ap­par­ent that al­most ev­ery­one con­nected to the girls has a mul­ti­tude of se­crets they’ll do any­thing to keep hid­den.

Top of that list is Mrs Ap­p­le­yard, who is not all that she seems. Her strict façade is just a cover for a sor­did past lived in the seami­est back al­ley­ways in Lon­don. She thought a new life in colo­nial Australia would be her chance to start again, but her seedy past is about to catch up with her.

It then turns out the last per­son to see the girls alive was aris­to­cratic English­man Michael Fitzhu­bert (Har­ri­son Gil­bert­son). He only re­cently ar­rived in the colony, trail­ing a hint of scan­dal in his wake. When it’s revealed that he had a spe­cial fas­ci­na­tion for Miranda from the mo­ment he laid eyes on her, he be­comes a key sus­pect.

Yet it’s when he re­turns to the rock in order to clear his name that he makes a truly shock­ing dis­cov­ery which spins the case of the miss­ing girls into rather more sin­is­ter ter­ri­tory.

har­ri­son pic­nic At HAng­ing rock screens on sun­day, May 6, on Fox­tel’s show­case. Madeleine

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