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Myths and Mysteries of the<br />

Crossing of the<br />

Blue Mountains<br />

An <strong>Australian</strong> <strong>History</strong> Mystery<br />

Robert Lewis<br />

Tim Gurry

ISBN 978-0-949380-75-3<br />

© 2012 National Museum of Australia and Ryebuck Media Pty Ltd<br />

Written by Robert Lewis, Tim Gurry<br />

Cover art: NH Roughley, Blue Mountains Crossed 1813,191-?, National Library of Australia<br />

National Museum of Australia<br />

Education Section<br />

GPO Box 1901<br />

Canberra ACT 2601<br />

Phone (02) 6208 5239<br />

Fax (02) 6208 5198<br />

Email education@nma.gov.au<br />

Website www.nma.gov.au/education<br />

Ryebuck Media Pty Ltd<br />

31 Station Street Malvern<br />

Victoria 3144<br />

Phone (03) 9500 2399<br />

Fax (03) 9500 2388<br />

Email ryebuck@ryebuck.com.au<br />

Website www.ryebuck.com.au<br />

Designed by Polar Design, Melbourne, Victoria<br />

<strong>Print</strong>ed by Trojan <strong>Print</strong>, Melbourne, Victoria<br />

All efforts have been made to find copyright ownership of materials used in this publication.<br />

Any contraventions are accidental and will be redressed. For any copyright matters please<br />

contact Ryebuck Media Pty Ltd.<br />

<strong>Teacher</strong>s are permitted to duplicate any pages in this publication for educational purposes in<br />

their classrooms.<br />

For any other purposes contact Ryebuck Media Pty Ltd.

Contents<br />

<strong>Teacher</strong>’s guide to using this resource 4<br />

Student activities 8<br />

Inquiries Activity pages Page<br />

Prepare to explore! 1–3 8<br />

A ‘virtual visit’ to the Blue Mountains 4A–4B 13<br />

Investigations<br />

1<br />

What are the Blue Mountains? 5A–5C 15<br />

2<br />

How were the Blue Mountains formed? 6A–6C 18<br />

3<br />

Why did explorers want to cross the Blue Mountains? 7A–7C 21<br />

4<br />

Who actually crossed the Blue Mountains? 8A–8E 24<br />

5<br />

How did the explorers achieve their crossing in 1813? 9A–9D 29<br />

6<br />

What was their journey like? 10A–10B 33<br />

Were Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth really the<br />

7 first to cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

11A–11E 35<br />

8<br />

What impacts did the crossing have? 12A–12C 40<br />

9<br />

How is the crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />

represented in the National Museum of Australia?<br />

13A–13C 43<br />

Conclusion and reflection: What does the crossing of<br />

the Blue Mountains tell us about <strong>Australian</strong> history?<br />

14 46

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />

<strong>Teacher</strong>’s guide<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains education resource<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains is a multimedia education resource to help middle<br />

secondary students explore an aspect of Australia’s early colonial history: the crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />

in 1813.<br />

It is part of the <strong>Australian</strong> <strong>History</strong> Mystery series at www.australianhistorymysteries.info/.<br />

It comprises:<br />

> A 20-minute ‘virtual visit’ film, taking students to key places associated with the event, outlining the key<br />

issues associated with the event, and presenting some of the evidence that they need to use to develop<br />

their own conclusions<br />

> A 48-page set of practical and evidence-based activity pages, for photocopying, which can be used in<br />

the classroom<br />

> A decision-maker interactive activity, Would you be a good explorer?, that presents information and issues<br />

about the event through an alternative learning approach.<br />

Background briefing<br />

In 1813 New South Wales remained a British penal colony, but competing ideas about its future were developing.<br />

Governor Lachlan Macquarie saw New South Wales as predominantly a place where freed convicts would<br />

engage in self-sufficient, small-scale agriculture to feed the growing colony.<br />

Wealthy free immigrants, often enticed by the British Government to settle, saw the colony as a place where<br />

they could establish large landholdings on which to run cattle or, increasingly, sheep. They saw convicts as<br />

cheap pastoral labour rather than farmers working small plots of land.<br />

Macquarie developed expensive public works but he was under pressure to generate the income to pay for<br />

these developments, rather than relying on British Government expenditure.<br />

Continued convict and free immigration, as well as internal population growth, and several poor seasons —<br />

of drought, floods and insect infestations — put increasing pressure on the need to expand the colony beyond<br />

the encircling ring of the Blue Mountains. At the same time, however, Macquarie did not want to provide a<br />

means for convicts to escape the boundaries of the colony’s settlement.<br />

In 1813 he authorised three wealthy immigrants — Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles<br />

Wentworth (who was born on a convict ship on the way to New South Wales) — to organise an expedition to<br />

find a way of crossing the Blue Mountains.<br />

Several other explorers had tried to cross the Blue Mountains previously, and some may even have<br />

succeeded, though we are not certain about this.<br />

The mountains were difficult to cross because of the rugged bush, many gorges and cliffs — but there was a<br />

way, by following a particular ridgeline. Aboriginal people knew at least two ways over the mountains (paths<br />

that are, today, followed by two major roads) but they were not involved in the 1813 crossing — Blaxland was<br />

dismissive of their knowledge.<br />

The party found this particular ridge line, and succeeded in reaching the end of the Blue Mountains and<br />

observing some open land — although they did not complete a crossing of the Great Dividing Range, and did<br />

not see the great plains towards Bathurst.<br />

After the party returned to the colony, Macquarie sent a surveyor, George Evans, to check on their findings.<br />

Evans followed their route, and then went much further, seeing the Bathurst plains. He returned, and<br />

Macquarie commissioned a narrow and rough road to be made — but one that was intended to be restricted<br />

for use by authorised travellers.<br />

Despite attempts to limit expansion of the colony, it gradually happened, and the plains were opened up to<br />

settlers who then took up the land, displacing the Aboriginal inhabitants in a series of bloody conflicts.<br />

As <strong>Australian</strong>s began to look to heroes in their history to obscure the convict ‘stain’ of the nation’s past,<br />

Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth and their crossing of the Blue Mountains was seized upon as one of the<br />

great nation-forming achievements.<br />

Today, with our awareness of the harm as well as the good that resulted from the opening up of the area, we<br />

are more inclined to ‘commemorate’ the crossing, rather than ‘celebrate’ it, and to place greater weight on the<br />

4<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

dispossession of Aboriginal people and the destruction of their society and culture than previous generations<br />

did, with their greater emphasis on the advantages of national development.<br />

These ideas and values are explored in the unit through a Year 9-level, inquiry-based approach to the topic.<br />

Curriculum connection<br />

The resource is relevant to these areas of the <strong>Australian</strong> Curriculum: <strong>History</strong> at Year 9:<br />

The Industrial Revolution (1750–1914):<br />

The technological innovations that led to the Industrial Revolution, and other conditions that influenced<br />

the industrialisation of Britain (the agricultural revolution, access to raw materials, a wealthy middle class,<br />

cheap labour, the transport system, and an expanding empire) and of Australia.<br />

And<br />

Making a nation:<br />

The extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European<br />

settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.<br />

The resource enables students to gain knowledge and understanding of aspects of early <strong>Australian</strong> colonial<br />

history through a specific case study.<br />

It is inquiry-based to develop students’ analytical skills, including the development of an empathetic<br />

appreciation of the people involved in the event.<br />

It includes multiple perspectives on the event, including those of the local Indigenous people who, while<br />

not involved in the exploration of the Blue Mountains, had their lives and culture profoundly affected by<br />

developments that arose as a consequence of the crossing of the mountains.<br />

An inquiry methodology<br />

The resource follows an inquiry methodology. The film or ‘virtual visit’ raises a number of questions<br />

(or mysteries) about the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813. Students then use a variety of evidence<br />

and learning approaches to develop their own answers to these mysteries.<br />

The inquiry process involves key elements whereby students:<br />

Engage<br />

‘Tune in’<br />

Hypothesise<br />

Structure an inquiry<br />

Critically examine evidence<br />

Reach a conclusion<br />

Reflect and apply<br />

They reach a point where they are interested and engaged, and want to find out what<br />

has happened in this case.<br />

Students see the key concepts involved in the study in a way with which they can<br />

identify — the study has meaning for them.<br />

They draw on existing knowledge and ideas, and state what they expect to find, or<br />

what they anticipate the outcome might be. Their hypotheses then become the things<br />

that they are testing by evidence.<br />

To carry out their inquiry, students have to follow a logical and coherent structure.<br />

They determine what they need to know to answer the questions they are exploring.<br />

Students now go through the process of gathering, sorting, comprehending,<br />

classifying, interpreting, testing, accepting, rejecting, qualifying, contextualising and<br />

synthesising this evidence.<br />

Students are now ready to reach an informed conclusion that they can defend and<br />

justify. The conclusion is theirs, and they will be aware of the degree of certainty with<br />

which they can hold that conclusion. They are able to complete a summative task that<br />

demonstrates their knowledge and understanding, and that reflects the processes<br />

they have gone through to arrive at their conclusion.<br />

Students are able, finally, to go beyond the particular case studied, and think in<br />

terms of the broader concepts involved. They can apply their new knowledge and<br />

understanding to other periods, places and peoples.<br />

<strong>Teacher</strong>’s guide<br />


This is done in ways that suit Year 9-level students. Some of the tasks set are more challenging than others,<br />

and teachers will decide for themselves which tasks are most suitable for their own students.<br />

‘Mythbusting’<br />

Included at certain points are challenges for students to consider various ‘myths’, or commonly believed<br />

aspects of the story of the crossing of the Blue Mountains. In doing so students use evidence to decide if the<br />

myths are confirmed or ‘busted’!<br />

Classroom approaches<br />

The resource is ready to be used in the classroom as is, or teachers can adapt elements of it to suit their<br />

own needs.<br />

Using the film<br />

The 20-minute ‘virtual visit’ film has been specifically made to provide an effective classroom resource by<br />

taking students to the key sites to be investigated.<br />

Students can look at the film first, using Activity pages 4A-4B to gain an overall picture of the event, and an<br />

understanding of the key questions about the 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains that are being investigated.<br />

Alternatively, teachers could show sections of the film as they start the different investigations. The activity<br />

pages clearly show which segments of the film are appropriate for the various investigations.<br />

Using the activity pages in the classroom<br />

The activity pages are all cleared for use, without permission, in classrooms by the teacher or school once the<br />

resource has been purchased.<br />

All activity pages can be used by individual students, but many are suitable for group work — with groups<br />

having to analyse an activity page, and report their findings to the whole class. In this way the overall reading<br />

workload can be shared and reduced.<br />

Activity pages 1–3 (Prepare to explore!)<br />

The three simple pieces of evidence provided set up the main inquiry by asking the simple question: What<br />

does a memorial tell us? The question that then automatically follows is: What is it not telling us? Students are<br />

provided with a way of pursuing an inquiry, and of collating and summarising the information, evidence and<br />

ideas that follow. They are also provided with a template on which they can create their own ‘textbook’ version<br />

of the crossing, either in print or as a comic strip, based on their investigations.<br />

Activity pages 4A–4B (Virtual visit)<br />

These provide a way of using the ‘virtual visit’ film component as a whole to introduce students to the range of<br />

issues explored in the unit.<br />

Alternatively, teachers might prefer to use segments of the film at different stages, focusing on one issue at<br />

a time rather than introducing them all at once. Methods for using the film in this way are provided on the<br />

appropriate activity pages.<br />

Activity pages 5A–5C & 6A–6C (Features and formation of the Blue Mountains)<br />

Students are in the present. They may know that it is easy to cross the Blue Mountains — we know what<br />

the mountains are like, what is there, and what lies beyond them. So it is important to help students develop<br />

empathy with the people of the past by having them look at the difficulties that the place would create for those<br />

who did not have the knowledge that we have today. The sequence of images on Activity Page 6B is: 3A, 3B,<br />

6, 4, 2, 5, 1.<br />

Activity pages 7A –7C (Why were the mountains explored?)<br />

These activities are about causation in history. Students will speculate on possible causes, and consider some<br />

of those that existed at the time. Most will decide that there was multiple causation.<br />

This activity is suitable for group work.<br />

Activity pages 8A–8E (Who were the explorers?)<br />

The initial evidence that students looked at named Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, but one item showed<br />

that there were others in the party. The party was larger than three members, but most commemoration does<br />

not stress this. Students come to understand how this ‘myth’ of the three explorers can be exposed.<br />

6<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

There has also been some assertion that the achievement of the crossing was possible because of an<br />

Aboriginal guide with local knowledge. Indeed, it was only very recently that the National Museum of Australia<br />

changed the text of its exhibition on the Blue Mountains to delete reference to an ‘Aboriginal guide’. Students<br />

will see that there seems to be no credible evidence of direct Aboriginal involvement.<br />

This activity is suitable for group work. Pairs of students can focus on one paragraph, and report back on<br />

this for the whole class to copy into their own summary table.<br />

Activity pages 9A–9D (How did they do it?)<br />

This evidence will clarify for students that the key factor in the explorers’ success lay in keeping to a particular,<br />

continuous ridgeline.<br />

This activity is suitable for group work.<br />

Activity pages 10A–10B (What was the journey like?)<br />

Students should do the interactive component ‘Would you be a good explorer?’ here. This puts them in the<br />

position of being decision-makers, and will increase their empathetic understanding of the nature of the<br />

journey. They will then better appreciate the implications of the Blaxland journal extracts in these pages.<br />

Examining the diary entries is suitable for group work.<br />

Activity pages 11A–11D (Were they the first to do it?)<br />

Historians today are undecided about whether other explorers preceded Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth<br />

over the Blue Mountains. Of course, Aboriginal people did, and students will decide that. This is where a<br />

discussion of the other meanings of ‘crossing’ and ‘discover’ may be the main focus. If Aboriginal people knew<br />

about the crossing, why do we focus on a European crossing of the same range? And, of course, the answer<br />

is that profound impacts followed from the European crossing — as discussed in the next set of activity pages.<br />

This activity is suitable for group work.<br />

Activity pages 12A – 12C (Impacts of the crossing)<br />

Students understand the impacts, but distinguish between beneficial and harmful ones, and short-term and<br />

long-term ones.<br />

This activity is suitable for group work.<br />

Activity pages 13A–13C (A museum display)<br />

Students constantly see representations of history. This activity allows them to bring a knowledgeable and<br />

informed attitude to the way the National Museum of Australia presents the story of the 1813 crossing to<br />

visitors. Students can evaluate and appreciate the display. They can also critically examine the way in which<br />

other writers do this through history textbooks that are created specifically for this student audience.<br />

This is suitable as an assessment activity.<br />

Activity page 14 (Conclusion and reflection)<br />

This provides a way that students can use this relatively brief but detailed case study to reflect on the range<br />

of knowledge and understandings about early colonial history that are set out in the <strong>Australian</strong> Curriculum:<br />

<strong>History</strong>. Students, having been historians themselves in this unit, will be able to express sophisticated and<br />

mature reflections on these important aspects of <strong>Australian</strong> history listed.<br />

This is suitable as an assessment activity.<br />

Further information<br />

The most comprehensive resource is Chris Cunningham, The Blue Mountains Discovered. Beyond the Myths<br />

of Early <strong>Australian</strong> Exploration, Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst NSW, 1996.<br />

Acknowledgements<br />

Mitchell Preston, Senior Education Officer, National Museum of Australia<br />

Daniel Oakman, Senior Curator, National Museum of Australia<br />

Jan Koperberg<br />

Patsy Moppett<br />

Graham and Susan Warmbath, Blue Mountains Historical Society<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page 1<br />

Prepare to explore!<br />

You have been driving through the magnificent Blue<br />

Mountains, to the west of Sydney, in New South Wales.<br />

You have gone up Mount York, and you see this memorial<br />

at the top:<br />

You read the main plaque.<br />

You say, ‘Hey, I’ve seen<br />

something about this before,<br />

in my history book!’<br />

You just happen to have your<br />

history textbook with you (yeah,<br />

right, as if …) and you flip it open<br />

to the two images below.<br />

So, you have three pieces of<br />

evidence about the crossing of<br />

the Blue Mountains.<br />

But do they all agree? Or are<br />

there differences between them?<br />

Source A<br />

Source B NH Roughley, Blue Mountains Crossed 1813,<br />

c. 191-?, National Library of Australia<br />

Source C<br />

Detail from The<br />

Blue Mountains<br />

Pioneers, Sydney Mail,<br />

Christmas Supplement<br />

1880, Dixson Library,<br />

State Library of<br />

New South Wales<br />

8<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page 2<br />

You be the historian<br />

1 Look at sources A – C, and using ONLY these images as evidence, decide if the following statements are<br />

Probably true (T), Probably false (F), or Cannot be known from this evidence (?). In each case decide what<br />

the best evidence is to support your conclusion, and why. One example has been done to help you.<br />

Statement T F ? Best supporting evidence<br />

The crossing was in 1813<br />

A and B both say this<br />

The crossing was made by three men<br />

Blaxland was the leader<br />

The crossing was difficult<br />

They crossed the mountains to find new land<br />

They were the first people to cross the Blue Mountains<br />

This resulted in the spread of settlement in New South Wales<br />

The explorers were proud of their achievement<br />

This is an important moment in <strong>Australian</strong> history<br />

The explorers were heroes<br />

2 You have realised that the three sources agree on some things, but disagree on others. Why do you think<br />

documents can disagree?<br />

3 Why do you think these documents can only partially answer some of the questions in the table?<br />

4 Which of these documents are you most likely to accept as the most accurate? Why?<br />

5 Some additional questions that you would like to ask about the sources are:<br />

6 Some additional questions that you would like to ask about the event are:<br />

Congratulations! You have just become a historian, because you have:<br />

> looked at a significant event in the past;<br />

> identified some evidence about it;<br />

> critically analysed or interrogated the evidence;<br />

> compared sources;<br />

> made judgements;<br />

> come to conclusions;<br />

> justified those conclusions;<br />

> identified strengths and weaknesses in your knowledge and understanding;<br />

> empathised with the people involved in the event; and<br />

> realised that you need to explore further to reach a final conclusion.<br />

And that’s what this unit does — it helps you to explore the crossing of the Blue Mountains in more detail, and<br />

to improve your knowledge, understanding and empathetic awareness of the event.<br />

In doing so, you will be introduced to some myths and mysteries associated with the event. By considering the<br />

evidence you will be able to ‘bust’ or confirm these myths, and solve some mysteries.<br />

Historical inquiry always involves some key questions:<br />

> What?<br />

> When?<br />

> How?<br />

> Who?<br />

> Why?<br />

> Impacts or consequences?<br />

> Significance?<br />

> Whose perspective is being presented?<br />

Your task at the end will be to answer these questions for the 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains.<br />

Use the table on the next page to summarise information and ideas as you work through the evidence.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

3A<br />

Exploring the 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />

Question<br />

Your Summary<br />

What are the Blue Mountains?<br />

What happened?<br />

When did it happen, and why did it happen then?<br />

Who was involved?<br />

Why were they doing it?<br />

How did they do it?<br />

What impacts did this event have?<br />

What is the significance of the event?<br />

As you consider the evidence and compose summaries of your ideas, you will also be asked to create your own<br />

text for a Year 9 history text, using activity pages 3B and 3C. It will be interesting to compare your account with<br />

others that have been published in the history textbooks that you use in class.<br />

Your first step should be to ‘visit’ the Blue Mountains yourself — through the DVD-ROM in this unit. This will<br />

raise many myths and mysteries for you to explore further.<br />

So, start exploring — and good luck!<br />

Let’s go!<br />

10<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

3B<br />

How the Blue Mountains were crossed<br />

Your textbook account or comic strip<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

5<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

3C<br />

Your textbook account or comic strip<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10<br />

12<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

4A<br />

A ‘virtual visit’ to the Blue Mountains<br />

1<br />

What are you investigating?<br />

Watch the film from 00:00 to 02:20.<br />

1.1 What are the Blue Mountains?<br />

1.2 Where are they?<br />

1.3 What are your impressions of them?<br />

1.4 What are the three things that the memorial says happened?<br />

1.5 Why does the presenter think the memorial might not be accurate?<br />

2<br />

The context and the problem<br />

Watch the film from 02:20 to 05:50.<br />

2.1 Explain the background of Sydney as a penal colony during the<br />

period 1788–1830.<br />

2.2 What was the problem that the colony had to solve?<br />

2.3 How would crossing the Blue Mountains solve this problem?<br />

2.4 Why were the Blue Mountains so hard to cross?<br />

Learn more<br />

Go to>><br />

Prepare to explore<br />

Investigation 1:<br />

What are the Blue Mountains?<br />

Investigation 2:<br />

How were the Blue Mountains<br />

formed?<br />

Learn more<br />

Go to>><br />

Investigation 3:<br />

Why did explorers want to<br />

cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

3<br />

The explorers<br />

Watch the film from 05:50 to 08:45.<br />

3.1 What were the main qualities of the three explorers?<br />

3.2 What was their main interest in crossing the mountains?<br />

3.3 How do the objects at the National Museum of Australia help you<br />

to understand the explorers and their motivation?<br />

Learn more<br />

Go to>><br />

Investigation 4:<br />

Who actually crossed the<br />

Blue Mountains?<br />

Investigation 7:<br />

Were Blaxland, Lawson and<br />

Wentworth really the first to<br />

cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

4<br />

The journey<br />

Watch the film from 08:45 to 12:00.<br />

4.1 What were the difficulties and challenges the explorers faced?<br />

4.2 How did the explorers progress?<br />

4.3 What was the explorers’ ‘secret’?<br />

4.4 What is the significance of Red Hands Cave?<br />

4.5 Why did the explorers ignore the local Aboriginal people?<br />

4.6 What was the significance of what the explorers saw at Mount York?<br />

Learn more<br />

Go to>><br />

Investigation 5:<br />

How did the explorers achieve<br />

their crossing in 1813?<br />

Investigation 6:<br />

What was their journey like?<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

4B<br />

5<br />

The outcomes<br />

Watch the film from 12:00 to 14:40.<br />

5.1 What were the main outcomes of the crossing? List them under these<br />

headings: Social, Economic and Environmental.<br />

6<br />

Impacts on the Aboriginal people and society<br />

Watch the film from 14:40 to 15:50.<br />

6.1 What impacts did the crossing have on the local Aboriginal people?<br />

6.2 How do the objects in the National Museum of Australia help us<br />

understand these impacts?<br />

7<br />

Reflecting on the meanings of the<br />

Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />

Learn more<br />

Go to>><br />

Investigation 8:<br />

What impacts did the crossing<br />

have?<br />

Learn more<br />

Go to>><br />

Investigation 8:<br />

What impacts did the crossing<br />

have?<br />

Investigation 9:<br />

How is the crossing of the<br />

Blue Mountains in 1813<br />

represented in the National<br />

Museum of Australia?<br />

Watch the film from 15:50 – 18:30.<br />

7.1 What are the good outcomes of the crossing?<br />

7.2 What are the bad outcomes?<br />

7.3 The presenter uses the words ‘commemoration’ and ‘celebration’<br />

What is the difference between them?<br />

7.4 Do you think we should ‘celebrate’ or ‘commemorate’ the event today?<br />

Explain your reasons.<br />

Learn more<br />

Go to>><br />

Conclusions and reflection<br />

State Library of New South Wales<br />

14<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page 5A<br />

Investigation 1 What are the Blue Mountains?<br />

Here are some images of the Blue Mountains.<br />

1 Beside each image, write some words that describe its key features. For<br />

example, for the first image you might write ‘beautiful’ or ‘rugged’ or ‘thick<br />

bush’ — or all of these. In this way you are creating an awareness of the key<br />

features of the Blue Mountains that your explorers will soon try to cross.<br />

See the film<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 00:00 to 02:20<br />

A<br />

Mark Sherborne, Destination NSW<br />

Google Earth<br />

B<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

5B<br />

C<br />

Mark Sherborne, Destination NSW<br />

D<br />

E<br />

Richard Tulloch, www.richardtulloch.wordpress.com<br />

Mark Sherborne, Destination NSW<br />

16<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

5C<br />

F<br />

Hamilton Lund, Destination NSW<br />

G<br />

State Library of New South Wales<br />

2 Think like an explorer: Imagine that you have just been told that you have to cross the Blue Mountains, but<br />

you cannot use any roads. List the problems and difficulties that you will face, based on these images and<br />

the words that you have used to describe them.<br />

3 Add any information to your summary table on activity page 3A.<br />

4 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic strip sketch for your own history textbook<br />

(in box 1 of activity page 3B) to explain to readers what the Blue Mountains are.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

6A<br />

Investigation 2 How were the Blue Mountains formed? See the film<br />

The Blue Mountains are a mostly sandstone monocline or plateau, part of<br />

the Sydney Basin which was laid down in the Permian and Triassic geological<br />

periods, between 280 and 180 million years ago. The Sydney Basin extends<br />

from north of the Hunter Valley to the Bateman’s Bay district in the south.<br />

Erosion by water and wind have created the rugged surface. The range was<br />

named the Blue Mountains because, viewed from Sydney, they appeared to be<br />

that colour — the result of a mist of eucalyptus oil refracting light and creating a<br />

haze that looks blue from a distance.<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 00:00 to 02:20<br />

© Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2012. This product is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0<br />

Australia Licence http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/3.0/au/legalcode<br />

JW Pickett and JD Adler, Layers of Time: The Blue Mountains and their Geology,<br />

NSW Department of Mineral <strong>Resources</strong>, Sydney, 1997, p. 4<br />

Environment New South Wales<br />

18<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

6B<br />

Here is a summary of the geological<br />

stages of the formation of the Blue<br />

Mountains, and diagrams to illustrate<br />

those stages — but the diagrams are not<br />

organised in order.<br />

1 Read the information about the various<br />

stages, then write the appropriate<br />

number beside each diagram.<br />

1<br />

The Devonian Sea 400 million<br />

years ago (mya)<br />

2 Carboniferous Swamp 350 mya<br />

Great Divide<br />

Great Divide<br />

3a<br />

3b<br />

Triassic Lake, 250–200 mya,<br />

deposit of Wianamatta Shale,<br />

formed when the sea rose and<br />

the resulting dead vegetation<br />

and marine life compressed to<br />

form coal.<br />

Triassic Lake, 250–200<br />

mya, deposit of Hawkesbury<br />

Sandstone as huge rivers from<br />

the west carried sand sediments<br />

that were layed down on top of<br />

the shale.<br />

Great<br />

Divide<br />

Blue<br />

Mountains<br />

Coastal Plain<br />

Sea Bed<br />

4<br />

5<br />

6<br />

Triassic alluvial plain formed<br />

when the layering of eroded soil<br />

stopped.<br />

First Earth Movement 170 mya,<br />

volcanic activity meant that the<br />

rocky bed rose to form a plateau<br />

Second Earth Movement tilted<br />

the plain, higher in the west than<br />

the east, and erosion started to<br />

produce the topography of today.<br />

Great Divide<br />

Great Divide<br />

2 Add any information to<br />

your summary table<br />

on activity page 3A.<br />

3 Write a brief paragraph or do a<br />

comic strip sketch for your own<br />

history textbook (in box 2 of activity<br />

page 3B) to explain to readers how<br />

the Blue Mountains were formed.<br />

Great Divide<br />

KEY<br />

Basalt caps<br />

Wianamatta Shales<br />

Hawkesbury Sandstone<br />

Narrabeen Sandstone<br />

Coal measures<br />

Older base rock<br />

Vegetation<br />

Sea<br />

Great Divide<br />

Eugene Stockton and John Merriman (eds), Blue Mountains Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage (2nd Edition),<br />

Blue Mountain Education and Research Trust, Lawson, 2009, p. 14<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

6C<br />

So, here you are, it is 1813, and this is the view that you have of the Blue Mountains.<br />

You know that people have explored some parts of the Blue Mountains, but<br />

nobody has crossed them and come back to say what is on the other side, or even<br />

how far they extend.<br />

You have thought about some of the difficulties in crossing them.<br />

Why do you think people would want to cross the mountains? And, how would<br />

they do it?<br />

This is what we now need to investigate in more detail.<br />

State Library of New South Wales<br />

The Blue Mountains are part of<br />

the Great Dividing Range. True or False?<br />

20<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

Investigation 3<br />

7A<br />

Why did explorers want to cross the Blue Mountains? See the film<br />

We have seen that in 1813 a group of explorers crossed the Blue Mountains.<br />

Why did they do it?<br />

1 Think about possible reasons, and list them.<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 02:20 to 05:50<br />

Some possible reasons are:<br />

Now look at the following evidence to test your ideas.<br />

2 How does Source 2 support the statement in Source 1?<br />

Source 2 A raised relief map of part of the Sydney Basin<br />

Source 1<br />

New South Wales, as it was<br />

by 1813<br />

When [Governor Macquarie] first<br />

assumed office, in 1810, the colony<br />

of New South Wales was closely<br />

defined by the encircling range of<br />

Blue Mountains. It was a small,<br />

compact area, no more than 60 by<br />

80 kilometres in extent. The central<br />

part was known as the Cumberland<br />

Plain, and it was bounded on its<br />

western edge by a powerfully<br />

eccentric river, the Hawkesbury,<br />

whose main catchment lay in the<br />

wide band of mountains beyond and<br />

which was subject to sudden and<br />

devastating floods.<br />

James Broadbent and Joy Hughes (eds),<br />

The Age of Macquarie, Melbourne University Press,<br />

1992, p. 66<br />

Geo Maps Company, Sydney<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

7B<br />

Source 3 From a comic book version<br />

3 What motive is<br />

being suggested<br />

here for the<br />

crossing of the<br />

Blue Mountains?<br />

Peter Leyden (ed), Over The Blue<br />

Mountains, The <strong>Australian</strong> Children’s<br />

Pictorial Social Studies, Sydney, 1958<br />

Source 4 Some facts about the<br />

colony’s environment<br />

• The susceptibility of the Nepean–Hawkesbury<br />

and Georges River farms to flooding made<br />

the colony vulnerable to food shortfalls. In<br />

1809 floods resulted in a grain shortage in<br />

the colony.<br />

• There was a plague of destructive army<br />

worms and caterpillars in 1810.<br />

• There was drought in 1810–11.<br />

• The 1811–12 crop was good, but caterpillars<br />

returned in 1812.<br />

• Drought in 1812–13 reduced crops, and killed<br />

many animals.<br />

• In 1812 there were 10,000 people in New<br />

South Wales, in 1813 there were 13,000 —<br />

an increase of 30 per cent; cattle increased<br />

from 9000 to 26,000, and sheep increased<br />

from 26,000 to 75,000.<br />

• Grass on the Cumberland Plain (the flat area<br />

surrounding Sydney) had deteriorated under<br />

heavy cattle grazing, and was replaced by<br />

coarser grass.<br />

Adapted from Harry Dillon and Peter Butler,<br />

Macquarie from Colony to Country, Random House, North Sydney,<br />

2010, p.177<br />

4 What reason/s are being suggested here<br />

for the need to cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

Source 5<br />

Governor Macquarie controlled who would receive land. He<br />

had a vision of the Sydney settlement being made up mainly<br />

of small farmers growing food crops, not large landholders<br />

grazing cattle or sheep.<br />

He was also conscious that this New South Wales was a gaol<br />

without walls. If new areas were opened up for settlement,<br />

there would be more escapes by convicts.<br />

In addition, Macquarie was under pressure from the British<br />

Government to limit public works, such as roads, because of<br />

the costs involved. A growing colony would need more money<br />

spent on public works and Macquarie wanted to avoid this.<br />

5 What reason/s are being suggested here that there<br />

was NOT a need to cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

Source 6<br />

The Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century resulted<br />

in an increased demand for the raw material — wool — to<br />

allow the factories of England to manufacture into textiles.<br />

This meant that there was a great incentive for people to grow<br />

wool. Sheep needed large areas of land on which to graze, and<br />

shepherds to care for them. New South Wales offered wealthy<br />

people the opportunity to develop great flocks of sheep, cared<br />

for by convict shepherds who did not need to be paid wages.<br />

The area around Sydney was good for cattle, but not for sheep.<br />

Access to new land was needed for the industry to grow.<br />

6 What reason/s are being suggested here for the<br />

need to cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

22<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

7C<br />

Source 7<br />

Though agriculture had become established, and the<br />

colony was no longer prey to desperate shortages,<br />

the quantity of food produced was still very small, and<br />

its production erratic. Droughts and floods caused<br />

fluctuating harvests; grain was still being imported,<br />

from Van Diemen’s Land one year, from India another.<br />

Sydney had founded its urban satellites early: the first<br />

was Norfolk Island, the second Parramatta; then the<br />

Green Hills on the Hawkesbury grew up as a military<br />

and service centre for the river farms near the mountain<br />

frontier. The search at sea continued, though the main<br />

body of settlers at Norfolk Island was removed to Van<br />

Diemen’s Land in 1808 and the island abandoned in<br />

1813. Newcastle, at the mouth of the Hunter River,<br />

became a convict depot, formed to isolate secondary<br />

offenders and exploit the coal, timber and shell-lime<br />

resources rather than to establish farming. Bass and<br />

Flinders had explored the southern coast; Port Phillip<br />

was known, briefly settled and then rejected by David<br />

Collins in favour of Hobart on the Derwent, which was<br />

strategically placed in the south to catch the vessels<br />

taking advantage of the ‘Roaring Forties’ spinning<br />

around the Antarctic seas.<br />

So the urban pattern remained centred on Sydney,<br />

but most of the secondary settlements were more like<br />

strategic satellites than agrarian centres. What is more,<br />

they were isolated at considerable distances from each<br />

other, and little or nothing was known of the land in<br />

between.<br />

James Broadbent and Joy Hughes (eds), The Age of Macquarie,<br />

Melbourne University Press, 1992, p. 66<br />

7 What other settlements existed apart from Sydney<br />

by 1813?<br />

8 Why were these not suitable for a large expansion<br />

of food or grazing?<br />

Source 8<br />

Blaxland and his elder brother John were immigrants<br />

from Kent, to whom liberal grants of land had been<br />

made on condition that they invested capital in New<br />

South Wales and engaged in agriculture. But they<br />

preferred to apply themselves to what Governor<br />

Macquarie called ‘the lazy object of rearing cattle’. They<br />

understood cattle-breeding and found it profitable,<br />

whereas Macquarie desired that settlers who obtained<br />

land grants should grow corn. The Blaxlands, working<br />

in partnership, wanted extensive areas for their herds;<br />

and whenever an area suitable for pasture came under<br />

their notice, they were prompt to apply for a slice,<br />

whilst the Governor was equally prompt to refuse them.<br />

They therefore had a pressing motive for ascertaining<br />

whether there was good cattle country beyond the<br />

limits of settlement. Gregory Blaxland had been on two<br />

exploring expeditions — the first of them in company<br />

with Macquarie — before he projected the enterprise of<br />

1813. In that year a severe drought afflicted the colony.<br />

No rain fell during what was normally the wet season.<br />

The greater part of the seed sown produced no crops,<br />

and ‘an alarming mortality’ occurred among the flocks<br />

and herds, It was therefore especially necessary to<br />

make an effort to find out whether there was fodder and<br />

water on the western side of the range.<br />

Ernest Scott (ed.), Australia, vol. VII, part 1 of the<br />

Cambridge <strong>History</strong> of the British Empire, Cambridge, 1988, p. 109<br />

9 What motives are being suggested here for<br />

crossing the Blue Mountains?<br />

10 You have now seen several possible reasons why<br />

explorers tackled the crossing in 1813. Which do<br />

you think most important?<br />

11 In question 1 you might have considered such<br />

things as curiosity, adventure or greed as<br />

reasons for the explorers’ desire to cross the<br />

Blue Mountains. Do you still think these might<br />

have been significant? Justify your views.<br />

12 Add any information to your<br />

summary table on activity page 3A.<br />

13 Write a brief paragraph or do a<br />

comic strip sketch for your own<br />

history textbook (in box 3 of activity page 3B)<br />

to explain to readers why the explorers wanted<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813.<br />

The crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 was done in response to the<br />

stimulus for wool created by the Industrial Revolution in Britain. True or False?<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

8A<br />

Investigation 4 Who actually crossed the Blue Mountains? See the film<br />

We know that Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were involved in the crossing.<br />

But who were they, and why did they attempt the crossing?<br />

1 Your task is to look at the biographical information on the three explorers<br />

(activity pages 14–16) and complete this table about them.<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 05:50 to 08:45<br />

Aspect Blaxland Lawson Wentworth<br />

Age in 1813<br />

Background<br />

Position in<br />

New South<br />

Wales<br />

Previous<br />

exploring<br />

experience<br />

Reason for<br />

involvement<br />

Personal<br />

qualities<br />

(good and<br />

bad)<br />

When you have completed looking at the information on the three explorers that follows,<br />

answer these questions:<br />

2 Do you think Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were heroes?<br />

3 Add any information to your summary table on activity page 3A.<br />

4 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic strip sketch for your own history textbook (in box 4<br />

of activity page 3B) to explain to readers who Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were.<br />

24<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

8B<br />

Gregory Blaxland (1778–1853)<br />

Gregory Blaxland (1778–1853),<br />

settler, was born on 17 June 1778 at<br />

Fordwich, Kent, England. In July 1799<br />

he married Elizabeth; they had five<br />

sons and two daughters.<br />

The British government promised<br />

them land, convict servants and free<br />

passages if they emigrated to NSW, in<br />

accord with its policy of encouraging<br />

‘settlers of responsibility and Capital’.<br />

Gregory sailed on 1 September 1805<br />

with his wife, three children, two<br />

servants, an overseer, a few sheep,<br />

seed, bees, tools, groceries and<br />

clothing. When he reached Sydney<br />

he sold many of these goods very<br />

profitably, bought eighty head of<br />

cattle so as to enter the meat trade,<br />

located 1619 hectares of land and was<br />

promised forty convict servants. Soon<br />

afterwards he also bought 182 more<br />

hectares of land.<br />

The Blaxlands bought a stockyard<br />

and expanded their cattle grazing.<br />

When Macquarie arrived he added<br />

to their land grants; this, he thought,<br />

satisfied all the claims for government<br />

assistance to which Gregory was<br />

entitled. He became very critical of<br />

the brothers for remaining ‘restless<br />

and dissatisfied’ and refusing to grow<br />

grain, despite their large numbers<br />

of convict servants; but Blaxland<br />

was concerned with his livestock.<br />

By 1813 he had come to realise that<br />

his flocks of sheep and cattle were<br />

expanding beyond the resources of<br />

his coastal grant. Macquarie could<br />

not be persuaded to grant extra lands<br />

to large flock owners on the coast,<br />

and Blaxland thus drew the correct<br />

conclusion that the solution to the<br />

pastoralists’ land problem lay in<br />

discovering a route to the interior.<br />

In 1810 he had explored part of<br />

the Nepean River. Early in 1813 he<br />

requested Macquarie’s approval of an<br />

exploring expedition across the Blue<br />

Mountains, and on 11 May he set<br />

out with William Lawson and William<br />

Charles Wentworth.<br />

In 1814, like many others almost<br />

insolvent because of drought and<br />

depression, he tried to persuade<br />

Macquarie to sanction a scheme for<br />

the exploitation of the interior by a<br />

large agricultural company. Macquarie<br />

would not agree nor would he allow<br />

Blaxland land in the interior for his<br />

own flocks. Since Blaxland then had<br />

to dispose of his livestock, it is not<br />

surprising that he joined the colonial<br />

opposition to Macquarie.<br />

By 1820 Blaxland had settled down<br />

on his Brush Farm estate. Here he<br />

conducted many experiments with<br />

crops and grasses, unsuccessfully<br />

with tobacco growing but most<br />

successfully with buffalo grass and<br />

viticulture. He had brought vines<br />

from the Cape of Good Hope, found<br />

a species resistant to blight, took a<br />

sample of his wine to London in 1822<br />

and won a silver medal for it. While<br />

in England he published his A Journal<br />

of a Tour of Discovery Across the<br />

Blue Mountains in New South Wales<br />

(London, 1823).<br />

Thereafter Blaxland disappeared<br />

from public activity and when he<br />

committed suicide on 1 January<br />

1853, his death was scarcely noticed<br />

in the press. Always a man of moody<br />

and mercurial character, Blaxland<br />

devoted his colonial activities<br />

almost entirely to the pursuit of his<br />

economic interests, and his diaries<br />

do not suggest great attachment to<br />

the colonial environment beyond<br />

what was suggested by the hope of<br />

personal gain.<br />

State Library of New South Wales<br />

Jill Conway, Online Dictionary of <strong>Australian</strong> Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/blaxland-gregory-1795<br />

5 Complete the biographical table in Activity page 8A for Blaxland.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

8C<br />

William Lawson (1774–1850)<br />

William Lawson (1774-1850),<br />

explorer and pastoralist, was born on<br />

2 June 1774 at Finchley, Middlesex,<br />

England. Educated in London, William<br />

was trained as a surveyor, but in June<br />

1799 he bought a commission in the<br />

New South Wales Corps. He arrived<br />

at Sydney in November 1800 and was<br />

soon posted to the garrison at Norfolk<br />

Island, where he married Sarah<br />

Leadbeater. He returned to Sydney<br />

in 1806.<br />

Like many of his fellow officers<br />

Lawson quickly began to acquire<br />

agricultural interests. About 1807 he<br />

bought a small property, and in 1810<br />

received a grant of 202 hectares.<br />

In January 1812 he accepted a<br />

commission as lieutenant in the New<br />

South Wales Veterans Company. He<br />

now built a fine 40-room mansion in<br />

early colonial style.<br />

In 1813 Gregory Blaxland invited<br />

Lawson to accompany him and<br />

William Charles Wentworth on what<br />

proved to be the first successful<br />

attempt to find a route across the<br />

Blue Mountains. Lawson’s knowledge<br />

of surveying made him a particularly<br />

valuable member of the expedition.<br />

His journal, with its accurate record of<br />

times and distances, enables the route<br />

to be precisely retraced. Macquarie<br />

rewarded each explorer with a grant<br />

of 405 hectares on the west of the<br />

ranges. Lawson selected his on the<br />

Campbell River near Bathurst. In 1819<br />

he was appointed commandant of the<br />

new settlement of Bathurst, occupying<br />

this post until 1824 when he retired.<br />

During his years at Bathurst<br />

Lawson undertook three journeys of<br />

exploration to find a practicable pass<br />

through the ranges to the Liverpool<br />

Plains. In this he was unsuccessful<br />

but his journeys helped to open up<br />

the rich pastoral district of Mudgee.<br />

He owned many extensive estates. He<br />

imported merino rams and ewes from<br />

England, as well as Shorthorn cattle<br />

and blood horses. His horses were<br />

famous throughout the colony in the<br />

coaching days.<br />

A generous supporter of the<br />

Presbyterian Church, Lawson took<br />

an active part in the establishment<br />

of both Scots Church, Sydney, in<br />

1824 and Scots Church, Parramatta,<br />

State Library of New South Wales<br />

in 1838. As a magistrate he<br />

entered freely into public life and<br />

on 10 October 1825 signed a letter<br />

approving trial by jury. He entered<br />

politics in 1843 as a member for<br />

Cumberland in the first partly elective<br />

Legislative Council; he attended<br />

regularly until 1846, but took little part<br />

in its debates. On 16 June 1850 ‘Old<br />

Ironbark’ Lawson died, leaving most<br />

of his estates to his son William.<br />

EW Dunlop, Online Dictionary of <strong>Australian</strong> Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lawson-william-2338<br />

6 Complete the biographical table in activity page 8A for Lawson.<br />

26<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

8D<br />

William Charles Wentworth (1790–1872)<br />

William Charles Wentworth<br />

(1790–1872) was the son of Catherine<br />

Crowley, who was convicted in<br />

July 1788 of feloniously stealing<br />

‘wearing apparell’, was sentenced to<br />

transportation for seven years, reached<br />

Sydney in the transport Neptune<br />

in June 1790, and in the Surprize<br />

arrived at Norfolk Island with the<br />

infant William on 7 August. Dr D’Arcy<br />

Wentworth, who also sailed in the<br />

Neptune and Surprize, acknowledged<br />

William as his son. He accompanied<br />

his parents to Sydney in 1796 and then<br />

to Parramatta, where his mother died<br />

in 1800. In 1803 he was sent with his<br />

brother D’Arcy to England.<br />

Wentworth returned to Sydney in<br />

1810. He was granted 708 hectares on<br />

the Nepean.<br />

His adventurous spirit, drought, and<br />

the desire to discover new pastures<br />

led him in May 1813, in company with<br />

William Lawson, and Gregory Blaxland<br />

to take part in the first great feat of<br />

inland exploration, the crossing of the<br />

Blue Mountains.<br />

Uncertain that they had really crossed<br />

the mountains, he wrote in his journal:<br />

‘we have at all events proved that<br />

they are traversable, and that, too, by<br />

cattle’. The discovery gave impetus<br />

to great pastoral expansion in which<br />

Wentworth amply shared. He was<br />

rewarded with another 405 hectares.<br />

On the mountain journey, according<br />

to his father, he had developed a<br />

severe cough; to recover his health<br />

and to help his father secure valuable<br />

sandalwood from a Pacific island he<br />

joined a schooner as supercargo in<br />

1814. He was nearly killed by natives<br />

at Rarotonga while courageously<br />

attempting to save a sailor whom they<br />

clubbed to death. The captain died, and<br />

Wentworth, with knowledge gained on<br />

his earlier voyage from England and no<br />

mean mathematical skill, brought the<br />

ship safely to Sydney.<br />

In 1819 he published A Statistical,<br />

Historical, and Political Description<br />

of the Colony of New South Wales<br />

and Its Dependent Settlements in<br />

Van Diemen’s Land. His book did<br />

much to stimulate emigration and<br />

was reissued in revised and enlarged<br />

editions in 1820 and 1824.<br />

Other important aspects of his life<br />

were:<br />

• publisher of the first independent<br />

newspaper, the <strong>Australian</strong>;<br />

• initiator of political reforms that<br />

promoted greater democracy;<br />

• a wealthy landowner who<br />

protected the productive wealth of<br />

graziers;<br />

• member of the New South Wales<br />

Legislative Council;<br />

• a supporter of the right of the<br />

intelligent poor to vote as long as<br />

they proved their ability by gaining<br />

some wealth and property;<br />

Mitchell Library, State Library of<br />

New South Wales - P4/21<br />

• assisted in the establishment of<br />

free primary education in Sydney;<br />

• helped to create the first <strong>Australian</strong><br />

university, the University of<br />

Sydney; and<br />

• helped New South Wales to gain<br />

increased responsible government.<br />

He died in 1872 in England, and was<br />

returned for burial in Sydney.<br />

With all his apparent contradictions,<br />

more than any other man he secured<br />

our fundamental liberties and<br />

nationhood. His love of Australia was,<br />

he confessed, the ‘master passion’<br />

of his life. He felt a natural kinship<br />

with the founding fathers of the<br />

United States. It is his chief claim<br />

to greatness that, more than any<br />

other, he secured in Australia, the<br />

fundamental liberties of the British<br />

Constitution.<br />

Michael Persse, Online Dictionary of <strong>Australian</strong> Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wentworth-william-charles-2782<br />

7 Complete the biographical table in activity page 8A for Wentworth.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

8E<br />

Were there others involved in the crossing in 1813?<br />

We now know a lot about the three men named on<br />

the memorial at the very start of this unit. But were<br />

they the only ones involved in the crossing in 1813?<br />

Here is some more evidence about that crossing.<br />

Read it and decide on your answer to these<br />

questions. Support your answers from the evidence.<br />

8 Were Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson the only<br />

people on the journey?<br />

9 Did they have an Aboriginal guide?<br />

10 How big was the exploring party?<br />

11 Was Blaxland the leader?<br />

12 Who was the most important person in the group?<br />

13 How certain can you be that your answers to these<br />

questions are correct? Explain your reasons.<br />

Source 1<br />

Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth are invariably<br />

remembered as a trinity … the ‘dauntless three’. They<br />

were not, however, a threesome at all, for the party<br />

included four servants, five dogs, and four horses. This<br />

was a collaboration between animals and men. Among<br />

the latter was James Burns, selected by Blaxland, who<br />

was probably key to their success …. By profession a<br />

hunter of kangaroos, James Burns was one of those<br />

people who had lived out on the edge [of settlement].<br />

Martin Thomas The Artificial Horizon. Imagining the Blue Mountains,<br />

MUP, Melbourne, 2003, p. 50-51<br />

Source 2<br />

Having made every requisite preparation, I applied to<br />

the two gentlemen who accompanied me, to join in<br />

the expedition, and was fortunate in obtaining their<br />

consent. To these gentlemen I have to express my<br />

thanks for their company, and to acknowledge that<br />

without their assistance I should have had but little<br />

chance of success.<br />

Blaxland’s journal<br />

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blaxland/gregory/b64j/part1.html#part1<br />

Source 3 Information in the National<br />

Museum of Australia display Crossing<br />

the Blue Mountains<br />

In 1813 William Charles Wentworth, William Lawson<br />

and Gregory Blaxland, keen to expand their holdings,<br />

persuaded [Governor] Macquarie to support an attempt<br />

to cross the mountains. They departed Emu Plains with<br />

horses, an Aboriginal guide and three convict servants.<br />

National Museum of Australia, 2012<br />

Source 4<br />

It took until 1813 for a way across the mountains to<br />

be found. Once across, the three successful explorers,<br />

Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth and<br />

William Lawson, and their Aboriginal guide looked out<br />

upon a lightly forested expanse that stretched to the<br />

horizon.<br />

David Day, Claiming a Continent, Angus&Robertson, Sydney, 1996, p. 81<br />

Source 5<br />

There is no record that local Aboriginal guides were<br />

used for the 1813 crossing, but it does seem likely<br />

that the ridge-line followed an Aboriginal track, as a<br />

logical, fairly even route. The party used a colonial<br />

bushman, Mr Byrne, as a guide, and the name Byrne<br />

(or Burns) subsequently appears in Surveyor Evans’s<br />

list of men who accompanied him on his journey the<br />

following year, in which he followed up, surveyed and<br />

extended the previous journey to Mount Victoria to the<br />

site of Bathurst. Byrne was probably one of a number<br />

of bushmen who were familiar with the mountain lands,<br />

hunting there for game and exploring unofficially.<br />

James Broadbent and Joy Hughes (eds) The Age of Macquarie,<br />

Melbourne University Press, 1992, p. 67<br />

14 Add any information to your<br />

summary table on activity page 3A.<br />

15 Write a brief paragraph or do a<br />

comic strip sketch for your own<br />

history textbook (in box 4 of activity page 3B)<br />

to explain to readers who was involved in the<br />

crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813.<br />

[*NOTE: The NMA has now<br />

changed its information about<br />

the Aboriginal guide]<br />

Look back at the<br />

inscription on the Mount York<br />

memorial. Would you say it is:<br />

True or False?<br />

28<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page 9A<br />

Investigation 5 How did the explorers achieve their crossing in 1813?<br />

<strong>Australian</strong>s today have the advantage of knowing all about the Blue Mountains<br />

— their size and extent, the route of the railway and highway, what is beyond<br />

them, and what they look like from the air. There is no mystery for us today about<br />

the crossing.<br />

But people in 1813 did not have that knowledge. So, let’s try and see the<br />

crossing from the perspective of their limited knowledge of the Blue Mountains,<br />

and try to understand the challenges that they faced in making the first crossing.<br />

Here are five different ways that the Blue Mountains could be crossed.<br />

1 Look at each method and brainstorm the possible advantages and<br />

disadvantages of each, remembering the limited knowledge that people had<br />

at the time about the nature and extent of the Blue Mountains.<br />

See the film<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 08:45 to 12:00<br />

Possible way Image Possible advantages Possible disadvantages<br />

1 <br />

Follow main<br />

rivers to their<br />

source<br />

2 <br />

Follow the<br />

gorges<br />

between<br />

the cliffs<br />

3 <br />

Follow the<br />

ridges at the<br />

top of the cliffs<br />

4 & 5<br />

Head north<br />

or south to<br />

attempt to<br />

travel around<br />

the mountains<br />

Now, let’s look at evidence, and use it to decide how the explorers achieved their aim.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

9B<br />


BILPIN<br />

BELL<br />



MT<br />



VALLEY<br />


MEDLOW<br />

BATH<br />


GROSE<br />

VALLEY<br />

LEURA<br />


VALLEY<br />



FALLS<br />



LAWSON<br />



LINDEN<br />











Glenbrook<br />





PLAIN<br />

N<br />


0 2.5 5KM<br />


30<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

9C<br />

Source 1 Blaxland on his unsuccessful<br />

1810 expedition (1)<br />

We ascended the River Hawkesbury, or Nepean, from<br />

above Emu Island [near Glenbrook], to the mouth of<br />

the Warragomby, or Great Western River, where it<br />

emerges from the mountains, and joins itself to that<br />

river, from its mouth. We proceeded as far as it was<br />

navigable by a small boat, which is only a few miles<br />

further. It was found to lose itself at different places,<br />

almost entirely underneath and between immense<br />

blocks of stones, being confined on each side by<br />

perpendicular cliffs of the same kind of stone, which<br />

sometimes rose as high as the tops of the mountains,<br />

through which it appears to have forced, or worn its<br />

way, with the assistance, probably, of an earthquake,<br />

or some other great convulsion of nature.<br />

Blaxland’s journal<br />

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blaxland/gregory/b64j/part1.html#part1<br />

2 Show this route on the map opposite. Note that<br />

the spelling of some names on the map and in the<br />

documents may be slightly different.<br />

3 To which of the five possible methods for crossing<br />

the Blue Mountains does this evidence refer?<br />

4 Was this method successful?<br />

Source 3<br />

The next European attempt at a crossing of the Blue<br />

Mountains, which succeeded by following the ridges<br />

and not the valleys, was the famous 1813 expedition<br />

of Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. In fact, they<br />

found the only accessible route, which the highway<br />

and railway still mainly follow today. The key to the<br />

crossing was locating the 20-metre wide Linden ridge<br />

and it appears they did this without assistance from the<br />

local people.<br />

Eugene Stockton and John Merriman (eds), Blue Mountains Dreaming:<br />

The Aboriginal Heritage (Second Edition), Blue Mountain Education<br />

and Research Trust, Lawson, 2009 p. 169<br />

8 Show this route on the map.<br />

9 To which of the five possible methods for crossing<br />

the Blue Mountains does this evidence refer?<br />

10 Was this method successful?<br />

Source 4 Map showing the topography of<br />

the Sydney Basin<br />

Source 2 Blaxland on his unsuccessful<br />

1810 expedition (2)<br />

This journey confirmed me in the opinion, that it was<br />

practicable to find a passage over the mountains,<br />

and I resolved at some future period to attempt it, by<br />

endeavouring to cross the river, and reach the high<br />

land on its northern bank by the ridge which appeared<br />

to run westward, between the Warragomby and the<br />

River Grose. I concluded, that if no more difficulties<br />

were found in travelling than had been experienced on<br />

the other side, we must be able to advance westward<br />

towards the interior of the country, and have a fair<br />

chance of passing the mountains. On inquiry, I found a<br />

person who had been accustomed to hunt the kangaroo<br />

in the mountains, in the direction I wished to go; who<br />

undertook to take the horses to the top of the first ridge.<br />

Before we set out, we laid down the plan to be pursued,<br />

and the course to be attempted, namely, to ascend the<br />

ridge before-mentioned, taking the streams of water on<br />

the left, which appeared to empty themselves into the<br />

Warragomby, as our guide; being careful not to cross<br />

any of them, but to go round their sources, so as to be<br />

certain of keeping between them and the streams that<br />

emptied themselves into the River Grose.<br />

Blaxland’s journal<br />

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blaxland/gregory/b64j/part1.html#part1<br />

www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/nature/SydneyBasinMapsTopography.pdf<br />

5 Show this route on the map.<br />

6 To which of the five possible methods for crossing<br />

the Blue Mountains does this evidence refer?<br />

7 Was this method successful?<br />

11 Which of the five possible methods for crossing<br />

the Blue Mountains does this evidence help you<br />

understand?<br />

12 Was this method successful?<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

9D<br />

Here is an illustration of the path actually taken by the explorers in 1813.<br />

13 Which method does it show?<br />

14 Why do you think the explorers followed this path? Refer back to other evidence to help you to decide.<br />

Peter Leyden (ed), Over The Blue Mountains, The <strong>Australian</strong> Children’s Pictorial Social Studies, Sydney, 1958<br />

Here is a Google<br />

Earth map showing<br />

the road today<br />

through the Blue<br />

Mountains.<br />

Google Earth<br />

15 How closely does the road follow the path taken by the 1813 explorers?<br />

16 Add any information to your summary table on activity page 3A.<br />

17 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic strip sketch for your own<br />

history textbook (in box 5 of activity page 3B) to explain to readers how<br />

the explorers were able to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813.<br />

Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth knew exactly how and where to cross<br />

the Blue Mountains because of information provided by people. True or False?<br />

32<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

10A<br />

Investigation 6 What was their journey like? See the film<br />

We now know how the exploring party was able to cross the Blue Mountains<br />

in 1813. But was it a hard task?<br />

1 Think about what qualities or characteristics<br />

a good explorer would need. Brainstorm, and<br />

list these.<br />

2 Read these extracts from entries in Blaxland’s<br />

journal of the trip (note that he writes in the third<br />

person, referring to himself as ‘Mr Blaxland’).<br />

Underline the difficulties or hardships that the<br />

party faced, as outlined in each entry.<br />

3 Beside each extract, brainstorm and write in<br />

words that describe the feelings the explorers<br />

might have had at each stage (empathy).<br />

NOTE: An Alternative Approach<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 08:45 to 12:00<br />

To understand this you need to ‘take’ the journey.<br />

Go to www.australianhistorymysteries.info<br />

to see if you would be a good explorer on this<br />

journey. The interactive will require you to make<br />

many decisions — will you make ones that will<br />

help you succeed?<br />

Good luck!<br />

Extracts<br />

Empathy words<br />

May 12 The land was covered with scrubby brush-wood, very thick in places, with some trees of<br />

ordinary timber, which much incommoded the horses. The greater part of the way they had deep<br />

rocky gullies on each side of their track, and the ridge they followed was very crooked and intricate.<br />

In the evening they encamped at the head of a deep gully, which they had to descend for water; they<br />

found but just enough for the night, contained in a hole in the rock. A small patch of grass supplied<br />

the horses for the night.<br />

May 13 They had not proceeded above two miles, when they found themselves stopped by a<br />

brushwood much thicker than they had hitherto met with. This induced them to alter their course, and<br />

to endeavour to find another passage to the westward; but every ridge which they explored proved to<br />

terminate in a deep rocky precipice; and they had no alternative but to return to the thick brushwood,<br />

which appeared to be the main ridge, with the determination to cut a way through for the horses next<br />

day. This day some of the horses, while standing, fell several times under their loads. The dogs killed<br />

a large kangaroo. The party encamped in the forest tract, with plenty of good grass and water.<br />

Blaxland’s journal http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blaxland/gregory/b64j/part1.html#part1<br />

May 14–15 On the next morning, leaving two men to take care of the horses and provisions, they<br />

proceeded to cut a path through the thick brushwood. As they ascended the mountain these gullies<br />

became much deeper and more rocky on each side. They now began to mark their track by cutting the<br />

bark of the trees on two sides. Having cut their way for about five miles, they returned in the evening<br />

to the spot on which they had encamped the night before. The fifth day was spent in prosecuting<br />

the same tedious operation; but, as much time was necessarily lost in walking twice over the track<br />

cleared the day before, they were unable to cut away more than two miles further. They found no food<br />

for the horses the whole way.<br />

May 16 On Sunday they rested, and arranged their future plan. They had reason, however, to regret<br />

this suspension of their proceedings, as it gave the men leisure to ruminate on their danger; and it<br />

was for some time doubtful whether, on the next day, they could be persuaded to venture farther.<br />

May 17 Having laden the horses with as much grass as could be put on them, in addition to their<br />

other burdens, they moved forward along the path which they had cleared and marked, about six<br />

miles and a half. They had to fetch water up the side of the precipice, about six hundred feet high, and<br />

could get scarcely enough for the party. The horses had none this night.<br />

May 18 The day was spent in cutting a passage through the brushwood, for a mile and a half further.<br />

They returned to their camp at five o’clock, very much tired and dispirited. The ridge, which was<br />

not more than fifteen or twenty yards over, with deep precipices on each side, was rendered almost<br />

impassable by a perpendicular mass of rock, nearly thirty feet high, extending across the whole<br />

breadth, with the exception of a small broken rugged track in the centre. By removing a few large<br />

stones, they were enabled to pass.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

10B<br />

Extracts<br />

Empathy words<br />

May 20 They proceeded with the horses nearly five miles, and encamped at noon at the head of a<br />

swamp about three acres in extent, covered with the same coarse rushy grass as the last station,<br />

with a stream of water running through it. The horses were obliged to feed on the swamp grass, as<br />

nothing better could be found for them. The ridge along which their course lay now became wider and<br />

more rocky, but was still covered with brush and small crooked timber, except at the heads of the<br />

different streams of water which ran down the side of the mountain, where the land was swampy and<br />

clear of trees. The track of scarcely any animal was to be seen, and very few birds. One man was here<br />

taken dangerously ill with a cold.<br />

May 21 In the beginning of the night the dogs ran off and barked violently. At the same time<br />

something was distinctly heard to run through the brushwood, which they supposed to be one of the<br />

horses got loose; but they had reason to believe afterwards that they had been in great danger — that<br />

the natives had followed their track, and advanced on them in the night, intending to have speared<br />

them by the light of their fire, but that the dogs drove them off.<br />

May 28 In the evening they contrived to get their horses down the mountain by cutting a small trench<br />

with a hoe, which kept them from slipping, where they again tasted fresh grass for the first time since<br />

they left the forest land on the other side of the mountain. They were getting into miserable condition.<br />

May 29 Part of the descent was so steep that the horses could but just keep their footing without a<br />

load, so that, for some way, the party were obliged to carry the packages themselves. The dogs killed<br />

a kangaroo, which was very acceptable, as the party had lived on salt meat since they caught the last.<br />

Blaxland’s journalnhttp://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blaxland/gregory/b64j/part1.html#part1<br />

May 31 In the afternoon they ascended its summit, from whence they descried all around, forest or<br />

grass land, sufficient in extent in their opinion, to support the stock of the colony for the next thirty<br />

years. This was the extreme point of their journey. Mr. Blaxland and one of the men nearly lost the<br />

party to-day by going too far in the pursuit of a kangaroo.<br />

They now conceived that they had sufficiently accomplished the design of their undertaking, having<br />

surmounted all the difficulties which had hitherto prevented the interior of the country from being<br />

explored, and the colony from being extended. They had partly cleared, or, at least, marked out, a<br />

road by which the passage of the mountain might easily be effected. Their provisions were nearly<br />

expended, their clothes and shoes were in very bad condition, and the whole party were ill with bowel<br />

complaints. These considerations determined them therefore, to return home by the track they came.<br />

June 4 They arrived at the end of their marked track, and encamped in the forest land where they had<br />

cut the grass for their horses. One of the horses fell this day with his load, quite exhausted, and was<br />

with difficulty got on, after having his load put on the other horses.<br />

June 5 This was the most unpleasant and fatiguing they had experienced. The track not being<br />

marked, they had great difficulty in finding their way back to the river, which they did not reach till<br />

four o’clock p.m. They then once more encamped for the night to refresh themselves and the horses.<br />

They had no provisions now left except a little flour, but procured some from the settlement on the<br />

other side of the river.<br />

June 6 They crossed the river after breakfast, and reached their homes, all in good health.<br />

4 Why do you think the<br />

explorers succeeded?<br />

Consider each of the<br />

following as possible factors:<br />

> luck<br />

> skill<br />

> logic<br />

> planning and preparation<br />

> personal qualities of the<br />

explorers<br />

> prior knowledge<br />

> other factors?<br />

5 Look back at the list of qualities or characteristics that you created in<br />

response to question 1 on the previous page. Which of these can you identify<br />

in these three explorers? Are there others you would now add to your list?<br />

6 Add any information to your summary table on<br />

activity page 3A.<br />

7 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic strip sketch for<br />

your own history textbook (in box 6 of activity page 3C)<br />

to explain to readers what the journey was like for the explorers.<br />

The crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />

was a difficult task: True or False?<br />

34<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page 11A<br />

Were Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth really the first<br />

Investigation 7 to cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

Everything you have looked at so far in this unit has discussed Blaxland,<br />

Lawson and Wentworth as the first to cross the Blue Mountains.<br />

But, were they?<br />

Some historians have suggested that there might be others who could make<br />

that claim. So, we need to investigate this possibility.<br />

First, let’s be clear what we are looking for. What does ‘crossing’ mean?<br />

1 Here are four possibilities. Discuss each one.<br />

A It means making it all the way to the other side of the mountains.<br />

B It means making it far enough across the mountains to know the<br />

other side is close, but not actually arriving there.<br />

C It means making it far enough across the mountains to suspect<br />

the journey has ended, but not to be certain.<br />

D It means going across the mountains, returning, and creating a<br />

path that others can follow.<br />

Keep these in mind as you look at the following claims. As you read<br />

the information you can follow the different claims on the map on the<br />

next page.<br />

2 As you read the claims, make a short summary note beside each;<br />

for example, This candidate might be considered the first to cross<br />

the Blue Mountains because …<br />

Candidate 2: John Wilson<br />

In 1797, a former convict, John Wilson, recounted tales of his exploits in<br />

the bush to Governor Hunter and Judge Collins. He claimed to have been<br />

upwards of 160 km in every direction around Sydney, and described some of<br />

the landscape and animals he had seen. Whilst his stories were considered<br />

suspect, some details were recorded by Collins. In retrospect, it appears<br />

likely that Wilson was telling the truth.<br />

Wilson appears to have reached the granite country of the upper Cox’s River<br />

valley near Hartley. The two main Aboriginal ‘highways’ were the Bilpin Ridge<br />

from Richmond, and Cox’s River valley from the Burragorang Valley. Other<br />

records offer clues that he followed the Cox’s River route. This is, in fact, the<br />

easiest route through the Blue Mountains, and completely avoids the need<br />

to cross over them. A third possibility is via the Colo River gorge, and some<br />

evidence suggests that Wilson may even have travelled all three!<br />

In January 1798 Wilson, John Price and others crossed the Nepean River<br />

and moved south-west towards the present site of Mittagong. There they<br />

turned west and found a route along the ridge where today the Wombeyan<br />

Caves Road is located. In the process they found a way to go west of the<br />

mountains, by going around them instead of across them. In March of<br />

the same year, Wilson and Price ventured to the Camden area, and then<br />

continued further south until they discovered Thirlmere Lakes, finally almost<br />

reaching the present site of Goulburn.<br />

It is possible that the accomplishments of this expedition were suppressed<br />

by Hunter, who may not have wanted convicts to know that there was a<br />

relatively easy way out of Sydney. Wilson’s life came to an abrupt end at<br />

the age of 30, when he was killed by Aborigines after abducting one of their<br />

women for his personal use.<br />

But, he had accomplished much as an explorer. He was never recognised<br />

as the first person to cross the mountains, possibly because his Cox’s<br />

River journey could not be verified, while his route west of Mittagong may<br />

have been the ‘long way around’ for a colony that had its eyes fixed on the<br />

sandstone fortress west of the Nepean.<br />

http://infobluemountains.net.au/history/crossing_wil.htm<br />

Candidate 1:<br />

Matthew Everingham<br />

See the film<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 05:50 to 08:45<br />

In October/November 1795 Matthew<br />

Everingham, with two other settlers<br />

(William Reed and John Ramsay)<br />

attempted to find a route across the<br />

Blue Mountains.<br />

Working from Everingham’s<br />

description of their journey, local<br />

experts have determined that they<br />

reached either Mt Wilson, Mt Tomah<br />

or Mt Irvine. They reached a point<br />

where they could see good country<br />

to the west but did not proceed any<br />

further as food supplies were running<br />

short. They were not more than one<br />

day’s trek from crossing the Blue<br />

Mountains when they turned back.<br />

This was 18 years before Blaxland,<br />

Lawson and Wentworth finally made<br />

their crossing in 1813.<br />

Their plan to return for a further<br />

attempt never eventuated. To help<br />

prevent the escape of convicts, the<br />

colonial government did not publicise<br />

the possibility of land to the west and<br />

discouraged exploration.<br />

www.firstfleetershunter.com.au/uploads/Family%20<br />

<strong>History</strong>/Matthew%20Everingham.pdf<br />

This candidate might be considered the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains because …<br />

This candidate might be considered the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains because …<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

11B<br />

Based on information in Chris Cunningham, The Blue Mountains Rediscovered, Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, 1996<br />

Note: George Caley also retraced Barralier path in July, 1806<br />

The start and end point of some exploration trips is not certain.<br />

36<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

11C<br />

Candidate 3: Francis Barrallier (1773–1853)<br />

Francis Barrallier, [assistant] to Governor King, led two<br />

expeditions into the foothills of the Blue Mountains in 1802.<br />

He discovered Burragorang Valley but was prevented from<br />

travelling further by a large waterfall.<br />

He was a refugee from the French Revolution, with a<br />

knowledge of engineering, surveying and navigation.<br />

Barrallier set off as an emissary from Governor King, to<br />

convey the governor’s compliments to the (Aboriginal)<br />

‘King of the Mountains’.<br />

Leaving their depot, they descended to the Nattai River<br />

and followed it downstream to the Burragorang Valley and<br />

Wollondilly River. Heading west, they climbed a ridge south<br />

of the Tonalli River, and climbed towards Southern Peak,<br />

returning to Nattai to await the arrival of new supplies.<br />

Re-supplied, they headed back up towards Southern Peak<br />

on November 22, reaching Mootik Plateau just south of<br />

Yerranderie, and making camp at Alum Hill on the 24th.<br />

From here, they followed a route via Bindook towards the<br />

Great Dividing Range.<br />

On the 26th, two forward scouts returned to report having<br />

found: ‘an immense plain; that from the height they were<br />

on the mountain they had caught sight of only a few hills<br />

standing here and there in this plain; and that the country in<br />

front of them had the appearance of a meadow.’<br />

What the scouts could not see was the Kowmung River<br />

gorge slashing through the ‘plain’.<br />

They hastened through Barrallier’s Pass to set up camp<br />

near Bent Hook (Bindook) Swamp. In spite of heavy rain,<br />

they were in high spirits, and after setting up bark huts,<br />

‘they congratulated themselves with having succeeded in<br />

accomplishing the crossing of the Blue Mountains without<br />

accident’.<br />

They were now on the eastern edge of the Bindook<br />

Highlands. From here, it is an easy ridge-top journey to the<br />

Great Divide, along what was to become the Oberon-Colong<br />

Stock Route.<br />

Barrallier and his party eventually reached a point<br />

approximately 2km short of the Great Divide and within<br />

sight of it. They did not recognise this, however, due to the<br />

nature of the terrain. Had they explored south, they could<br />

have reached Mt Werong in an hour, and seen the westward<br />

flowing Abercrombie River. Having travelled as far as their<br />

supplies allowed, they returned the way they had come.<br />

Barrallier and his party had crossed the Blue Mountains,<br />

and come substantially closer to the Great Divide than<br />

Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were to.<br />

www.yerranderie.com/explorer.htm<br />

Candidate 4: George Caley (1770–1829)<br />

George Caley, botanist and plant collector to Sir<br />

Joseph Banks, went on regular collecting excursions<br />

into the Blue Mountains to gather natural history<br />

specimens.<br />

In November 1804, Caley and party set off for the<br />

Carmarthen Hills (Mt Tomah and Mt Banks), with<br />

the intention of then continuing west or to ‘the most<br />

promising part of the country’. His companions were<br />

‘ticket of leave men’, minimum security convicts. After<br />

travelling overland from Parramatta, possibly carrying<br />

their boat, they travelled up-river from Windsor to<br />

near the junction of the Grose River. From there, they<br />

climbed 500 metres, in the hot sticky weather, to<br />

Tabaraga Ridge near Kurrajong Heights.<br />

Caley would no doubt have noticed the Bilpin Ridge,<br />

along which Bell’s Line of Road would later be built,<br />

had he reached Tabaraga Ridge one or two kilometres<br />

further north. But Caley set a compass course for<br />

Mt Tomah, and determined to stick to it as far as<br />

the terrain would allow. The march took them over<br />

Patersons Ridge, through three ravines, then into a<br />

particularly steep sided valley which Caley named Dark<br />

Valley. They were unknowingly travelling parallel to,<br />

and a few kilometres from, the Bilpin Ridge.<br />

www.australiaforeveryone.com.au/discovery/caley.htm<br />

This candidate might be considered the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains because …<br />

Candidate 5: George Evans<br />

Six months later, George Evans was sent by Governor<br />

Macquarie to survey the route found by the three<br />

explorers in May 1813. He led a team which followed<br />

their route to Mount Blaxland, and then continued<br />

on, over the Great Dividing Range, to where Bathurst<br />

now stands — so over 100 kilometres beyond the<br />

achievement of the three explorers. He thus became<br />

the first European known to have reached the rich<br />

pastureland of the Western Slopes and Plains.<br />

www.infobluemountains.net.au/history/crossing_3ex.htm<br />

This candidate might be considered the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains because …<br />

This candidate might be considered the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains because …<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

11D<br />

Candidate 6: Aboriginal people<br />


Note that since this map was created<br />

in 1991 more than four times as many<br />

sites have now been recorded.<br />

Eugene Stockton and John Merriman (eds), Blue Mountains Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage<br />

(Second Edition), Blue Mountain Education and Research Trust, Lawson, 2009, p. 10<br />

Red Hands Cave<br />

Examples of Aboriginal habitation<br />

can be found in many places. In the<br />

Red Hands Cave, a rock shelter near<br />

Glenbrook, the walls contain hand<br />

stencils from adults and children. On<br />

the southern side of Queen Elizabeth<br />

Drive, at Wentworth Falls, a rocky<br />

knoll has a large number of grinding<br />

grooves created by rubbing stone<br />

implements on the rock to shape<br />

and sharpen them. There are also<br />

carved images of animal tracks and<br />

an occupation cave. The site is known<br />

as Kings Tableland Aboriginal Site and<br />

dates back 22,000 years. The native<br />

Aborigines knew [at least] two routes<br />

across the mountains: Bilpin Ridge,<br />

which is now the location of Bells Line<br />

of Road between Richmond and Bell,<br />

and the Coxs River, a tributary of the<br />

Nepean River. It could be followed<br />

upstream to the open plains of the<br />

Kanimbla Valley, the type of country<br />

that farmers prize.<br />

This candidate might be considered the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains because …<br />

Candidate 7: Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth<br />

This candidate might be considered the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains because …<br />

38<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

11E<br />

Coming to a conclusion<br />

You have now looked at various ‘candidates’ for the first crossing of the Blue Mountains.<br />

3 Who would you say should be given the credit as the first to cross the Blue Mountains?<br />

4 Look at this assessment of the place of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth in this history.<br />

Do you agree with it? Justify your view.<br />

The ‘official’ story<br />

Everyone knows that Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth<br />

were the first Europeans to succeed in crossing Australia’s<br />

impenetrable Blue Mountains, and thus opened up the<br />

way for the colony to expand onto the vast fertile slopes<br />

and plains of the west. Previous expeditions had tried, of<br />

course, but all failed. The only way across was via the three<br />

explorers’ innovative ridge-top route.<br />

Well, it makes a nice story.<br />

By the time Gregory Blaxland, Lt William Lawson and<br />

William Charles Wentworth set out, a considerable amount<br />

of information had been gathered. Not only did they know<br />

of numerous routes which didn’t work, but they had George<br />

Caley’s observations of the main ridge, made from Mt<br />

Banks. They also knew that the most successful efforts were<br />

those which followed ridges.<br />

The view from Mt York is not, as implied by some accounts<br />

of history, one of expansive pastures. It is of the upper<br />

Cox’s valley, with the Great Dividing Range blocking the<br />

view to the west.<br />

Descending into the valley, they came to the same bank<br />

of the same river as they had been on 12 days ago — the<br />

Cox’s flows to the Nepean. They could have got there by<br />

following the river, as John Wilson apparently had.<br />

Their turn-around point was Mt Blaxland, some 12km short<br />

of the Great Divide. They had discovered a way over the<br />

Blue Mountains, and an area of pasture on the other side. It<br />

was May 31, they had been travelling for 21 days, and had<br />

covered about 93km; an average of about 4.5km per day.<br />

They returned to Emu Plains in 5 days.<br />

This route was later to become that of the highway and<br />

railway. However, it was Francis Barrallier’s route which<br />

became the stock route, as it offered better feed along the<br />

way.<br />

Their report to the Governor Macquarie was modest; it was<br />

later writers who polished up the story and made them into<br />

heroes. Macquarie took no action to exploit their discovery.<br />

Wentworth was later to advise that a railway across the Blue<br />

Mountains was impossible.<br />

Six months later, George Evans led a team which followed<br />

the Three Explorers’ route, and continued on, over the Great<br />

Dividing Range, to where Bathurst now stands. He thus<br />

became the first European known to have reached the rich<br />

pasture land of the Western Slopes and Plains.<br />

Governor Macquarie now became seriously interested. He<br />

commissioned George Cox to build a road along the route,<br />

and personally made the trip to Bathurst soon after it was<br />

completed. Bathurst, which did not yet exist as such, was to<br />

become Australia’s first inland city.<br />

Why do [the three explorers] get all the credit? Two reasons<br />

come to mind: the Three were respectable (unlike Wilson),<br />

and British (unlike Barrallier).<br />

Previously, it had been in the governor’s interests to<br />

promote the belief that the mountains were impenetrable.<br />

Had Governor Hunter been so inclined, he could have<br />

followed up on John Wilson’s explorations and had a road<br />

to Hartley by 1800, and one to Goulburn soon after.<br />

It is not our intention to denigrate the achievement of<br />

the Three Explorers. Rather, we seek to put it back into<br />

proper perspective; in fact, the perspective in which they<br />

themselves apparently saw it.<br />

www.infobluemountains.net.au/history/crossing_3ex.htm<br />

5 Add any information to your summary table on activity page 3A.<br />

6 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic strip sketch for your own<br />

history textbook (in box 7 of activity page 3C) to explain to readers<br />

if Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth can be given the honour of<br />

being the first to cross the Blue Mountains.<br />

Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were the first<br />

to cross the Blue Mountains. True or False?<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

12A<br />

Investigation 8 What impacts did the crossing have? See the film<br />

Did the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 have significant impacts?<br />

To decide we need to look at what followed from the event.<br />

1 Read the comments below, and summarise them, using this table.<br />

As you add information and ideas, you can also annotate them with your<br />

judgements about whether the impacts were good (+ve) or bad (–ve), and<br />

short-term (ST) or long-term (LT). One example has been done to help you.<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 12:00 to 14:40<br />

and 14:40 to 15:50<br />

Impacts of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />

Economic<br />

New land for grazing sheep (LT) (+ve)<br />

Social<br />

Environmental<br />

Human<br />

Identity<br />

40<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

12B<br />

Source 1<br />

Since my return to England many of my friends<br />

have expressed a wish to peruse my Journal<br />

…. It may not be deemed wholly uninteresting,<br />

when it is considered what important alterations<br />

the result of the expedition has produced in<br />

the immediate interests and prosperity of the<br />

colony. This appears in nothing more decidedly<br />

than the unlimited pasturage already afforded<br />

to the very fine flocks of merino sheep, as well<br />

as the extensive field opened for the exertions<br />

of the present, as well as future generations. It<br />

has changed the aspect of the colony, from a<br />

confined insulated tract of land, to a rich and<br />

extensive continent.<br />

Dedication by Blaxland in his Journal, 1823<br />

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blaxland/gregory/b64j/part1.html#part1<br />

Source 4<br />

In the first place, Macquarie did not plan a rapid peopling of the<br />

inland region — his plans for Bathurst ‘rested on the assumption<br />

that there was no pressing need for people to go there’. His<br />

proposed regulations for settlement were not approved until<br />

1817, and even then he took no immediate action to put then<br />

into effect. Although a few soldiers and labouring men had been<br />

stationed at Bathurst, there were no settlers until 1818, when<br />

ten grantees were finally put on small farms. In 1820 Macquarie<br />

was still rejecting proposals for a large-scale convict settlement<br />

on the grounds that it posed a security risk, and he had actively<br />

discouraged settlement by reserving large areas as Crown land.<br />

The Bathurst area remained for many years a small official<br />

outpost.<br />

Grace Karskens, An Historical and Archaeological Study of Cox’s Road and Early Crossings of<br />

the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Crown lands Office, Bicentennial Project Unit,<br />

Sydney, 1988 p. 41<br />

Source 2<br />

Cox’s Road itself, rough and steep as it was,<br />

constituted the appropriate first step towards<br />

the Colony’s perceived future development: it<br />

marked the line of European ‘civilisation’ through<br />

the wilderness and made possible Macquarie’s<br />

official claim over the vast interior for some<br />

future imperial destiny.<br />

Grace Karskens, An Historical and Archaeological Study of Cox’s Road<br />

and Early Crossings of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Crown<br />

lands Office, Bicentennial Project Unit, Sydney, 1988<br />

Source 5<br />

In 1788 the Aborigines of the Blue Mountains had had no contact<br />

with Europeans; within 30 years their traditional way of life had<br />

been irrevocably changed. Of the generations of new Mountains<br />

dwellers who followed, few appreciated the Aboriginal heritage<br />

of the region, even though evidence of their presence was known<br />

from the Nepean River and the adjacent escarpment.<br />

Eugene Stockton and John Merriman (eds), Blue Mountains Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage<br />

(Second Edition), Blue Mountain Education and Research Trust, Lawson, 2009, back cover<br />

Source 6<br />

Source 3<br />

What was needed in the meantime was, firstly<br />

an official claiming of the region in symbolic<br />

and practical ways, laying suitable foundations<br />

for later development, and secondly a means by<br />

which the colony’s starving stock might quickly<br />

be taken into the new country. Cox’s Road served<br />

both purposes admirably. While not untruthful<br />

this description was exaggerated. For the journey<br />

over Cox’s Road proved to be extremely difficult<br />

and laborious. Significantly, as the numbers<br />

of travellers gradually increased, so the long<br />

process of re-alignment and improvement<br />

followed. Cox’s original road was simply not<br />

suitable for the transport and communication<br />

required for inland settlement, and so while it<br />

was of considerable symbolic importance, it had<br />

only limited actual economic usefulness.<br />

Grace Karskens, An Historical and Archaeological Study of Cox’s Road<br />

and Early Crossings of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Crown<br />

lands Office, Bicentennial Project Unit, Sydney, 1988<br />

Items on display in the Crossing of the Blue Mountains exhibit<br />

in the National Museum of Australia — iron axe heads and nails,<br />

a breastplate given by settlers to Aboriginal leaders, Aboriginal<br />

stone tools found in the Bathurst area.<br />

2 Could this display represent a comment on the impact<br />

of the new settlers on Aboriginal life and culture?<br />

Discuss this idea.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

12C<br />

Source 7<br />

Bathurst was founded at the terminus of Cox’s Road on the<br />

orders of Governor Lachlan Macquarie who selected the<br />

site on 7 May 1815. It is the oldest inland town in Australia.<br />

The name Bathurst comes from the surname of the British<br />

Colonial Secretary Lord Bathurst. It was intended to be the<br />

administrative centre of the western plains of New South<br />

Wales, where orderly colonial settlement was planned. The<br />

settlers who crossed the Blue Mountains were harassed by<br />

Wiradjuri warriors, who killed or wounded stock-keepers<br />

and stock and were subjected to retaliatory killings. In<br />

response, Governor Brisbane proclaimed martial law on<br />

14 August 1824 to end ‘… the Slaughter of Black Women<br />

and Children, and unoffending White Men …’. It remained<br />

in force until 11 December 1824.<br />

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathurst,_New_South_Wales andhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/<strong>Australian</strong>_frontier_wars#New_South_Wales<br />

Source 8 Biography of Windradyne (c.1800–1829)<br />

Windradyne (c.1800–1829), Aboriginal resistance leader,<br />

also known as SATURDAY, was a northern Wiradjuri man of<br />

the upper Macquarie River region in central-western New<br />

South Wales. Emerging as a key protagonist in a period<br />

of Aboriginal-settler conflict later known as the ‘Bathurst<br />

Wars’, in December 1823 ‘Saturday’ was named as an<br />

instigator of clashes between Aborigines and settlers that<br />

culminated in the death of two convict stockmen at Kings<br />

Plains. He was arrested and imprisoned at Bathurst for one<br />

month; it was reported that six men and a severe beating<br />

with a musket were needed to secure him.<br />

After some of the most violent frontier incidents of the<br />

period, including the killing of seven stockmen in the<br />

Wyagdon Ranges north of Bathurst and the murder of<br />

Aboriginal women and children by settler–vigilantes near<br />

Raineville in May 1824, Governor Brisbane placed the<br />

western district under martial law on 14 August. The<br />

local military was increased to seventy-five troops, and<br />

magistrates were permitted to administer summary justice.<br />

Windradyne’s apparent involvement in the murder of<br />

European stockmen resulted in a reward of 200 hectares<br />

being offered for his capture. The crisis subsided quickly,<br />

although the failure to capture Windradyne delayed the<br />

repeal of martial law until 11 December. Two weeks later he<br />

and a large number of his people crossed the mountains to<br />

Parramatta to attend the annual feast there, where he was<br />

formally pardoned by Brisbane.<br />

The Sydney Gazette described Saturday as ‘without<br />

doubt, the most manly black native we have ever beheld<br />

… much stouter and more proportionable limbed’ than<br />

most Aborigines, with ‘a noble looking countenance, and<br />

piercing eye … calculated to impress the beholder’. Another<br />

observer thought him ‘a very fine figure, very muscular<br />

… a good model for the figure of Apollo’. His sobriety<br />

and affection for his family and kinsmen were considered<br />

remarkable.<br />

Apparently remaining camped in the domain at Parramatta<br />

for some time after the 1824 feast, Windradyne then<br />

returned to Bathurst. He declined to attend Governor<br />

Darling’s feast the following year. In later years, he was<br />

intermittently reported as being involved in raids on maize<br />

crops or in clashes with settlers around Lake George. In<br />

1828 an Aboriginal man being led to his execution for<br />

the murder of a stockman at Georges Plains attempted<br />

vainly to pin the crime on the ‘notorious Saturday’.<br />

Mortally wounded in a tribal fight on the Macquarie River,<br />

Windradyne died a few hours later on 21 March 1829 at<br />

Bathurst hospital, and was buried at Bathurst.<br />

Windradyne had been closely associated with George Suttor<br />

and his son William Henry, who were strong advocates on<br />

behalf of Aborigines during and after the period of martial<br />

law. Both lamented his passing in the Sydney press in<br />

April 1829. One of William Henry Suttor junior’s <strong>Australian</strong><br />

Stories Retold (1887) placed Windradyne at the scene of<br />

the Wyagdon attacks in May 1824 and described how his<br />

warriors had spared the life of the author’s father …<br />

In 1954 the Bathurst District Historical Society erected a<br />

monument beside a Wiradjuri burial mound at Brucedale,<br />

attaching a bronze plaque commemorating ‘The resting<br />

place of Windradene, alias ‘’Saturday”, last chief of the<br />

Aborigines: first a terror, but later a friend to the settlers….<br />

A true patriot’. His death date was erroneously given<br />

as 1835.<br />

In the late twentieth century Windradyne was transformed<br />

from a local figure to a character of national importance<br />

as a resistance hero. A suburb at Bathurst and a student<br />

accommodation village at Charles Sturt University, Wagga<br />

Wagga, were named after him. In May 2000 his presumed<br />

resting place was put under a voluntary conservation order,<br />

the occasion celebrated by Wiradjuri descendants and the<br />

Suttor family, continuing a 180-year-old friendship and<br />

creating a potent symbol of reconciliation.<br />

David Andrew Roberts, Online Dictionary of <strong>Australian</strong> Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/windradyne-13251<br />

3 Add any information to your summary<br />

table on activity page 3A.<br />

4 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic<br />

strip sketch for your own history<br />

textbook (in box 8 of activity page 3C)<br />

to explain to readers what the main impacts<br />

of the crossing of the Blue Mountains were.<br />

The crossing of the<br />

Blue Mountains opened the<br />

west to an immediate rush of<br />

settlement. True or False?<br />

42<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page 13A<br />

How is the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813<br />

Investigation 9 represented in the National Museum of Australia?<br />

Here is the way the National Museum of Australia presents the story of the<br />

crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813.<br />

1 Read the information on Activity Page 13B and then look at the Museum<br />

objects (Activity Pages 13B and 13C). Then critically evaluate the Museum’s<br />

representation, using the Site Study <strong>Guide</strong> below.<br />

SITE STUDY GUIDE — Analysing a Museum Display<br />

See the film<br />

‘virtual visit’<br />

from 15:50 to 18:30<br />

Aspects to consider<br />

The Museum display<br />

What is your first impression of the display<br />

before you start studying it in detail?<br />

What aspects of the event does the display<br />

show?<br />

Is the historical context clearly explained?<br />

Is the significance of this event clearly<br />

explained?<br />

Is a variety of evidence displayed?<br />

Are the objects displayed authentic for that<br />

event or period?<br />

Do the objects tell the story effectively?<br />

Are the text descriptions clear, accurate<br />

and informative?<br />

Do the surroundings influence your<br />

impression of the display?<br />

How is the display arranged — when you<br />

see it what stands out in the display?<br />

Is there a particular message being<br />

presented to you in the display?<br />

Is the nature of the event clearly identified<br />

(e.g. am I told if it is controversial or<br />

contested)?<br />

If so, is a variety of viewpoints clearly and<br />

fairly put?<br />

Do I know where the evidence has come<br />

from and what sort of evidence it is?<br />

Is its purpose to present objects (neutral),<br />

or to explain (impartial), or to argue a<br />

particular point of view (partisan)?<br />

At the end, do I feel that I really understand<br />

the event and its significance?<br />

What is your final judgement about the<br />

display? Has it changed from your initial<br />

impression? If so, suggest why.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

13B<br />

Blue Mountains Looking for land Crossing the Blue Mountains<br />

Soon after British colonists established<br />

their first settlements in New South<br />

Wales, they began searching for new<br />

pastures for their stock. They explored<br />

north and south, and inland as far<br />

as Evan (now Penrith), but found<br />

their way further west blocked by the<br />

Blue Mountains.<br />

Local Gundungurra, Wiradjuri,<br />

Wanaruah, Darug and Darkinjung<br />

peoples knew and used two main<br />

routes to cross the Blue Mountains.<br />

But most Europeans saw the range<br />

as a forbidding maze of sandstone<br />

bluffs, deep gorges and dense bush.<br />

Then, several expeditions managed to<br />

penetrate part way into the mountains,<br />

travelling up the Burragorang Valley,<br />

inland from Richmond, and around the<br />

range to the south.<br />

In 1813 Gregory Blaxland, William<br />

Lawson and William Charles Wentworth<br />

forged a route directly west from Evan.<br />

The following year a road tracing their<br />

route was built across the range and<br />

settlers began moving stock into the<br />

inland slopes and plains of Wiradjuri<br />

country. In the following decades the<br />

Blue Mountains became a holiday<br />

destination for Sydneysiders, and today<br />

more than three million people visit<br />

each year to admire the rugged views<br />

and walk the forest trails.<br />

All the difficulties were surmounted<br />

which had hitherto prevented the<br />

interior of the country from being<br />

explored and the Colony further<br />

extended.<br />

Gregory Blaxland, 1813<br />

From his arrival in New South Wales,<br />

Governor Lachlan Macquarie sought<br />

to increase the colony’s capacity to<br />

produce its own food. He instructed<br />

settlers to grow grain rather than<br />

raise sheep and cattle, but many large<br />

landholders refused to comply and<br />

continued to increase their stock. When<br />

drought struck the Sydney region they<br />

grew desperate for new pastures.<br />

In 1813 William Charles Wentworth,<br />

William Lawson and Gregory Blaxland,<br />

keen to expand their holdings,<br />

persuaded Macquarie to support an<br />

attempt to cross the mountains. They<br />

departed Emu Plains with horses, an<br />

Aboriginal guide and three convict<br />

servants. Twenty-one days and about<br />

93 kilometres later they climbed what<br />

is now Mount Blaxland and saw to the<br />

west country suited to sheep and cattle.<br />

They had proved that colonists could<br />

cross the Blue Mountains.<br />

I am more pleased with the Country<br />

every day; it is a great extent of<br />

Grazing land<br />

George William Evans, 1813<br />

After Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth<br />

returned from the Blue Mountains with<br />

reports of promising land beyond,<br />

Governor Macquarie instructed<br />

surveyor George Evans to plan a road<br />

across the range. Evans traced the<br />

explorers’ trail of blazed (marked) trees<br />

and then followed a pathway made by<br />

local Aboriginal people down onto the<br />

inland slopes. He found rich grasslands,<br />

mostly created by the Wiradjuri people’s<br />

practice of periodic burning.<br />

Macquarie then commissioned<br />

ex-soldier William Cox to build a road<br />

through the mountains. In six months<br />

Cox’s team of 30 convicts and eight<br />

guards completed more than 160<br />

kilometres. Bathurst, the first settlement<br />

west of the range, was established<br />

in 1815, and pastoralists flooded<br />

into the inland. For the next decade<br />

there was armed conflict in the region<br />

as the Wiradjuri, led by the warrior<br />

Windradyne, resisted the invasion.<br />

2 Add any information to your summary table on activity page 3A.<br />

3 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic strip sketch for your own history textbook (in box 9<br />

of activity page 3C) to explain to readers how the crossing of the Blue Mountains might be<br />

presented differently by different historical representations. (Use the Museum display and<br />

other textbooks to answer this question.)<br />

4 Looking at activity page 3A, what are your final answers to each of the questions, based on<br />

the evidence, information and ideas that you have summarised throughout this unit?<br />

44<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page<br />

13C<br />

William Cox’s telescope early 1800<br />

Cox used this telescope as he supervised<br />

construction of the first road over the Blue<br />

Mountains in 1814 and 1815. Governor<br />

Macquarie rewarded Cox with the first land grant<br />

in the Bathurst area, 2000 acres (810 hectares)<br />

that Cox named ‘Hereford’.<br />

Private collection<br />

Black slate pendulum mantel clock<br />

Owned by the Blaxland family 1718. Gregory Blaxland<br />

arrived in New South Wales from Britain in 1806,<br />

and his brother, John, followed a year later. They<br />

brought with them this weighty clock made by<br />

London clockmaker Devereux Bowley. The Blaxlands’<br />

move was assisted by the British Government, under<br />

a scheme encouraging educated and prosperous<br />

migrants. In return for investing capital in the colony<br />

they were promised land grants, convict workers and<br />

free passage for themselves and their possessions.<br />

Donated by Daryl Blaxland, National Museum of Australia<br />

A Corrobbirree, or Dance of the Natives<br />

of Australia about 1836 (detail)<br />

By Charles Staniforth Hext<br />

British army officer Charles Staniforth Hext<br />

sketched this scene while stationed in New<br />

South Wales. Annotations name members of<br />

the ‘Bathurst tribe’ and ‘Burrogorang tribe’.<br />

National Museum of Australia<br />

Two hand-forged nails from<br />

Pilgrim Inn, Blaxland 1820s<br />

Pilgrim Inn was built by merchant<br />

and theatre director Barnett Levy on<br />

his land grant at Wascoe (now called<br />

Blaxland) in the lower Blue Mountains<br />

in the late 1920s. In need of money to<br />

fund construction of Sydney’s Theatre<br />

Royal, the first theatre in Australia,<br />

Levy sold the inn soon afterwards.<br />

Eventually, three major roads in the<br />

region — Cox’s Road, Mitchell’s Pass<br />

and Old Bathurst Road — converged<br />

at this point and for many decades<br />

the inn was a key stopping point for<br />

people travelling over the montains.<br />

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Gift of W Davis,<br />

1958<br />

Pocket watch<br />

Inset with pearls and diamonds, belonging to<br />

William Charles Wentworth 1816.<br />

Wentworth was born to a prosperous New South<br />

Wales family and became a leading figure in<br />

colonial society. As a young man he took up<br />

land on the Nepean River. Then in 1816, after<br />

traversing the Blue Mountains, he travelled to<br />

Britain to study law. From 1824 Wentworth settled<br />

in Sydney, serving in the Legislative Council<br />

and campaigning for a free press, trial by jury,<br />

self-government and the interests of ex-convicts.<br />

Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales<br />

Gunter’s chain used in the Bathurst<br />

area 19th century<br />

Surveyor George Evans travelled across<br />

the Blue Mountains to the future site<br />

of Bathurst in 1813. He measured the<br />

length of his return journey to Sydney<br />

with a Gunter’s chain, whose 100 links<br />

add up to 66 feet (just over 20 metres).<br />

Department of Lands, New South Wales<br />

White Mountain ash marker 1813<br />

Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth<br />

marked their route through the Blue<br />

Mountains by blazing, or cutting, the<br />

bark of trees. This section of white<br />

mountain ash, removed from Pulpit<br />

Hill near Katoomba in 1901, shows<br />

markings believed to have been made<br />

by the explorers.<br />

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.<br />

Collected by Mr Connelly, 1901<br />

Single-barrel shotgun<br />

Believed to have belonged<br />

to William Wentworth early<br />

19th century<br />

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.<br />

Gift of Mr Minton, 1984<br />

Portrait medallion of<br />

Wentworth 1854<br />

By Thomas Woolner<br />

State Library of New South Wales<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Activity page<br />

13B<br />

Gregory Blaxland’s sword<br />

About 1800.<br />

State Library of New South Wales<br />

Breastplate 19th century<br />

In the 1830s George Larnach and his family<br />

became the first settlers in the Caloola Valley<br />

near Bathurst. They established friendly<br />

relations with the local Wiradjuri people.<br />

Lanarch presented this breastplate to an<br />

elder of the group as a mark of respect.<br />

On loan from Alan McRae<br />

Land grant made to Gregory Blaxland 1812<br />

In 1809 Lieutenant Governor William Paterson<br />

allocated Blaxland 2000 acres (810 hectares) at<br />

Evan, now Penrith. Three years later Governor<br />

Lachlan Macquarie granted him a further 2280<br />

acres (920 hectares) at the same location, and<br />

then, as detailed in this document, 500 acres<br />

(200 hectares) at what is now Cobbity. Macquarie<br />

believed this ended Blaxland’s entitlement, but<br />

the family disputed this in the court. Determined<br />

to expand his holdings, Blaxland looked for land<br />

west of the Blue Mountains.<br />

National Museum of Australia<br />

Surveyor and settler<br />

William Lawson arrived in Sydney in 1800 as an<br />

officer of the New South Wales Corps. He acted<br />

as a surveyor during the 1813 expedition into<br />

the Blue Mountains and may have been the first<br />

to take stock across the range. Lawson selected<br />

1000 acres (400 hectares) near Bathurst as<br />

his reward for a successful expedition. He was<br />

commandant of Bathurst from 1819 to 1824 and<br />

led expeditions to its west and north. Lawson<br />

eventually owned more than 200 000 acres,<br />

making his pastoral enterprise one of the largest<br />

in the colonies.<br />

William Lawson<br />

Mitchell Linrary, State Library of New South Wales<br />

Stone flakes found in the<br />

Bathurst area collected<br />

1900-60<br />

Wiradjuri craftspeople had<br />

made stone tools like these for<br />

thousands of years before the<br />

first settlers arrived. These flakes<br />

were collected by Percy Gresser,<br />

a Bathurst shearer who devoted<br />

his life to researching Indigenous<br />

culture and history.<br />

Bathurst Historical Society<br />

Brick from Fordwich House 1820s<br />

Blaxland hoped his 1813 expedition across the Blue<br />

Mountains would bring him new pastures. Governor<br />

Macquarie rewarded Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth each<br />

with 1000 acres (400 hectares) west of the range, but refused<br />

Blaxland’s request for further grants inland of the mountains.<br />

Despite such disputes with colonial authorities, the Blaxland<br />

family developed a network of properties in New South Wales.<br />

This brick is from Fordwich House, built by the Blaxland<br />

family with convict labour at Boke, near Singleton, in 1824.<br />

Cattle were bred and fattened at Fordwich before being<br />

slaughtered and salted at John Blaxland’s large property,<br />

Newington, on the Parramatta River, west of Sydney.<br />

On loan from Darryl Blaxland<br />

Road making tools used for<br />

crossing the Blue Mountains<br />

William Cox’s team of<br />

convicts used basic tools<br />

like these while building<br />

the first road across the<br />

Blue Mountains, now the<br />

Great Western Highway.<br />

On loan from Ralph Hawkins<br />

46<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains

Activity page 14<br />

Conclusion and reflection:<br />

What does the crossing of the Blue Mountains tell us about <strong>Australian</strong> history?<br />

You have now studied an event in great detail.<br />

It is time to make some judgements and assessments about the nature and significance of this event in<br />

<strong>Australian</strong> history.<br />

The <strong>Australian</strong> Curriculum: <strong>History</strong> asks you to consider the following areas. Compose your response to each,<br />

based on your knowledge, understanding and empathetic awareness (what it might have been like at the time)<br />

of the people and the event.<br />

1 What does the Crossing of the Blue Mountains tell us about:<br />

The Impact of the<br />

Industrial Revolution<br />

on Australia<br />

Convict life<br />

Impacts of<br />

settlement on<br />

Indigenous people<br />

The movement<br />

of people<br />

The nature of the<br />

free settlers<br />

Economic activity<br />

in New South Wales<br />

Land use in New<br />

South Wales<br />

What it was like<br />

(empathy)<br />

Causation<br />

Consequences of<br />

settlement<br />

Different views of<br />

the future of New<br />

South Wales<br />

2 Write a brief paragraph or do a comic strip sketch for your own history textbook<br />

(in box 10 of activity page 3C) to summarise for readers what you think the<br />

crossing of the Blue Mountains tells us about this part of our past.<br />

Myths and Mysteries of the Crossing of the Blue Mountains<br />


Country Women’s Association of NSW collection, National Museum of Australia

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