In 1885, 12 year old Clara Crosbie got lost on the outskirts of Melbourne. The spooky, mysterious Australian bush.
In fairytale fashion, Clara Crosbie set off on a journey. She took the wrong path and realising she was lost she sat down in a hollow tree where she remained until found. She had stayed put for 22 days.
From the Argus: It was sorrowfully remembered how intense the frost had been and how wet the weather and now that even hope could no longer tell a flattering tale, stockmen and others talked with bated breath of some day finding the poor child’s body like the remins of one of the “Babes in the Wood” who had been coverd with leaves by singing birds. It was far more likely that she had drawn her latest breath with the hoarse croak of a carrion crow for the requiem.
The lost child narrative of the 19th century.
McCubbin, not long after Clara’s discovery, went on to paint a really saccharine painting called ‘Lost’. A Victorian type narrative painting.
And the tradition continued. Joan Lindsay wrote a book based on the painting below of the Hanging Rock she had seen while studying at the National Gallery School.
| William Ford, At the Hanging Rock, detail, 1875 |
I haven’t seen Peter Weir’s film Picnic at Hanging Rock for ages, but I remember the eerie quality of the Australian landscape Weir depicted.
A landscape of the spooky.
| Still from Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock film, 1975 |