Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (1969-72) put an image in my mind of Australia as a "good place," where "boys could hug and kiss," where same-sex desire was strong, same-sex romance open and passionate. Ten years later, in college, I saw Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and The Last Wave (1977). They only added to the mystique.
Picnic is set at a prim-and-proper girls' school in wild Victoria, Australia in 1900. It's Valentine's Day, the heart of summer, and you can practically feel the oppressive heat. And the repressed desire. The landscape aches with it. The girls sit around gazing moon-eyed at each other and reading love poetry before heading out in a carriage for a jolly picnic at Hanging Rock, a interesting geological formation. They are chaperoned by two teachers. Since it's a hot day, they are permitted to take off their gloves.
The Go-Between) picnicking with his uncle and aunt. He looks surprised and disconcerted at the sight of the feminine invading his domain.
The Lord of the Rings), so I implicitly thought of the two as lovers.
Michael becomes obsessed with finding the girls, and he and Albert return to the Rock to search. Then Michael disappears. In a touching scene, Albert finds him, delirious, and carries him down the face of the Rock in his arms. He doesn't remember what happened.
Were the girls kidnapped? Did they fall into a crevass? Were they engulfed in the Dreamtime? There is evidence for all three, and all three are disconfirmed. Their fate remains a mystery (the original novel tells us what happened). We are left with the image of girls reading each other love poetry, and Albert carrying Michael in his arms.