The Journal of Gregory Blaxland

The Journal of Gregory Blaxland published in 1913

The Journal of Gregory Blaxland published in 1913

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A hundred and eight years ago to-day

Gregory Blaxland and his two friends stood

on the clifl-edge at Mount York and saw the

good grass lands of Hartley Vale. No more

welcome or more important discovery was ever

made in Australia. And the discoverers knew

it—tut it appealed to each of them in a differ'

ent light. To Blaxland, the sheep-farmer, it

was a find of

“ forest or grass land sufficient in extent to

s-ipport the stock of the colony for the next

thirty years.”

Wentworth was chieSy interested in the

geography and botany of the new district. Lawson’s

military training made him see

"the best-watered Country of any I have

seen in this Colony . . . and no difficulty

in making a good Road to it; and,

take if in a Political point of view, tf in

case of an Invasion it will be a safe Retreat

for the Inha’oitance with their Familys

and Stock. For this part of the Country is

so formed by Nature that a few men. would

be able to defend the passes against a large


In 1S13, we must remember, the news of Napoleon's

disaster in Russia had not yet reached

New South W ales; he war, still the dreaded

enemy, and a raid by his ships on Sydney was

well within the bounds of possibility. It is

probable, too. that Perom’s report of 1S02—

"My opinion, and that of all those among

us who have more particularly concerned

themselves with the organisation of this

colony, is that it should be destroyed as

quickly as possible” —

and Napoleon's 1S10 order for a raid on Port

Jackson were well known to the British Government,

and therefore to Macquarie and his

chief advisers.

However, the journey and its results have (

been described and re-described frequently of

late years, and need not be again narrated ;

here. W hat docs seem to need re-stating is the ’

existence of an authoritative document on the

subject by which practically all still disputed -

points can be settled onee for all. This is

Lawson’s journal of the expedition, from which

has been taken the quotation earlier in this

article. It is not a new find, but merely a> ;

neglected one. G. B. Barton read it nearly 40

years ago, but made no particular use of it.

Frank Bladen—whose knowledge of early Aua-

1tralian history was unsurpassed—read it 20

years ago, and saw its special value, and did

use it; but his results have disappeared, and

no one since seems to have paid it any great

attention. Yet it is in its way fin'll. For it is

not a narrative like Blaxland’s, full of inter- j

esting but vague observations; it is a detailed

record of distances and directions, mile by

mile, point by po-int, from the Nepean to the

Cox, as accurate es anyone working in rugged

^forest country_ under^ exceptionally difficult

conditions could be expected to make it.


is the sort of thing:—

“ Struck our Tent3 and Droceeded N by

W 1-16. NW 1-16, NNW NW %, W 1-16,

WSW 34. SSW V i, S by E 14, S by W H.

ssw %. s %, w i mile, wsw u , ssw

n w

That is part of the entry for May 24, giving

the track they made from the lagoon near

Wentworth Falls railway station to another

swamp near Leura; and anyone who has followed

the old (Cox’s) road in that vicinity will

recognise the twists and turns of it. The distances,

of course, are not exact—Lawson’s sixteenths

of a mile are nearer SO yards than 110.

But Blaxland gives the explanation; “ The distance

was computed by time, the rate being estimated

at about two miles per hour," so that

a sixteenth meant about two minutes’ walk.',

Considering the rough method of computation,

the approach to accuracy is remarkable.


Bladen, es has been said, saw the value o'.

this record, and had it plotted to scale On ai'

ofacial map o f the district. (Curiously enough,

Frank Blaxland, a descendant of the explorer,

was a draftsman in the Lands Office at this

time, and to him the plotting was entrusted.)

The process, as Bladen described it to me, was

this; Lawson’s distances and directions were

set. out on a blank sheet of tracing paper, using:

tho scale of the official map—the distance b e­

tween his extreme points was thus discovered

to be notably greater than that shown on the

map—arid his measurements were then ’

proportionally, so as to make the distance*

between extremes identical. Transferred to

the map, the track thus obtained was found to

coincide very closely with the long winding

ridge between the Grose and the Cox, in

accordance with the design formulated by

land before the expedition started.

Where is that map now? It is nearly 1C

years since I saw it. and I can find no one wUc

has seen it since. It was made, anparently. it

IMS. to accomtv“ nv a report on the in s e r tio n

(as ungrammatical as it was incorrect) ■iha'

a former Minister for Lands had attached

the “ Exi'lorers’ Tree’’ bevond Katoomba: b

there is no trace of it in these papers ta-d

A cortv was se* t.n F’-wnMc Suttor fo

transmission to Mr. C. R. Blaxland, and ths

mav 511 he in existence. Rot srvhow. til

nrocegff' can 'be renewed. and shnnld he.

son’s tonmal is in the Mitchell L 'h rarv e:

thfi trustees mietit well ar~nnero to have 1

erTi+ed nnd used «jrain. Blazon used it.

«etvlc the em'oret-s- track, on-e for all. In-

*«pd. *h« real need is of an edition eolla

the t'nrA« ioyrnals.

Meanwhile we m»v note how unmistakably t

Lawson entries indicstp the dav to dav

tiors of the exolorers’ oamn, supplementing

explaining Blaxland’s vaguer phrases. Bla

land. for instance, tells that, o f’-er c.lirolvner

the big hill to King’? Tableland, the." struck

off alone the ridge of it for a mile and n ha f

bafore they were 'topped hy the cliffs. But he

docs not make clear—and Lawson does—lhal

nesrlv half their journey on the following

(the 23rd) was a mere retracing of their stopf

to the m lin ridge: «nd Blaxlands somewhat

doiudou* periods (written up lator in the “ gi

English” of the time) are not half to eemyn

ing as the cla,iu Lawson talk:-

“ Mr. Blaxland, Wentworth and Self >?ft

our Camp with a determination to get-''. -V

eome part of this broken land, but ftunff

it impracticable, in some clacts f;








IN TH E Y E A R 1813,

1 B Y


W I T H ,





(P resident Australian Historical S ociety).

C O P Y R I G H T .


"The Conquest of the Mountains"

A wondrous feat within this record stands

"A tale of conquest of our fertile lands”

Performed "by men of courage hold

Who in the far-off halycon days of old

Boldly attacked,and carried hy assault

Those fastnesses,which called a halt

To many an early plan forlorn

Achieved hy men of equal courage horn.

They won. But in their steps on hill and


Stalked danger and disease-the twain.

But never heeding,hopefully they went

All with fatigue and cruel hardship spent.

Until upon the thirty-first of May

Mount Blaxland seemed to "block jrhe way.

Then up its slopes their weary footsteps


And on its summit found their journeyTs


1913. F.Walker.

, *^AASv**+aus6£as .

Compass Bearings of Blaxland,Lawson & Wentworth’ s Track across

the Mountains in 1 8 1 3 . ( From Li eu t. Laws on ’ s Journal)

lay 1 2 th .1913

-May 13 t h .

-a.y 14th.

S.%. S.W.%. W.S.W.%. W.%.W.N.W.3g.N.by W.%.N.N.W.%. Encamped

at head of g u lly . ( 2% m iles)

W.%. N.W.%. W.by S.%. N.W.3*. S.E 3g. H.N.W .^.E.E.%. N.W.^.

( 3% m ile s)




d itto

ay 1 6 t h.

.. ay 17 t h .

-.'lay 16 t h .

-'-ay 19th.

May 20th .

■■^ay 2 1 s t .

^ay 22nd.

^ .Y 23rd.

May 24th.

May 25th.

May 26t h .

May 2 7 t h .

May 28t h .

May 29th .

May 30th


W.S.W.Jg. W.3g. N.W.%. W.N.Wjjj. W.3g. N.N.W.%. W.by N.%. S.Wjg.

W.fc. W.^.SW.^. W.Jg. S .E .^ . W.S.W.%. S.W.2*. S.S.W .%. W.S.W.%.

S.W.%. S.%. S.W.%. W.%. S.S.W.%. W .f.W .3*. ( 7^ m iles)


W.S.W.3*. W .& W.by SJ4 . ( 1^4 m iles) Narrow Pass met with here

(Linden). "Here to found a large heap of stones p iled up.no

doubt i t was done by Dr Bass some years ago,as he

rtnt in this direction,and did p ile a heap of stow

at the end of his journey" (=Caley’ s R ep ilse")

Encamped at head of small Lagoon.


S .E .% . S .L . S .S . S.S.W.C%. W.by S . 1 / 8m. W .1 / 8M. N.W.%. S.W.%.

W .H .W .1/8. N .N .W .1/8. N.Wjg. N.W.by W.1~4 . IT.F.W.^. W.N.W.%.

( 4% m iles) Encamped at head of small lagoon.

N.W.by N W . % . N.W.%. N.N.W.%. WN.W.by W.fc. W.S.W.1%.

( 4?4 m iles) Encamped at head of small swamp.

W .S.W .1 . S.W.1/8. N.W.by W.1/8. W.1 / 8 . N.l/8 . S.W.by W.l/8m

N.W.by W .1 / 8m S.W.by W.%. WSW.t/8 . N.W.I/8 . 1 S.W.%.W. 1 / 16 .

S .W .bjvW .1/8. W.14 . S.l. S.W.V. ( 5% & 3 /1 6th ?.m iles) Reached

highest point of land. (Blackheath) Prosjpect H ill.E .G rose

Head.,Hat Hill. SE.by E.

N .E .’r. N.I. N.N.W.%. N.l/8m N.W.%. W.%. W.N.W.};;. N.N.W.%. Encamped

at head of large Lagoon. (3 5/8 milles)

N.by W.1/16. NW.1/16. NNW.%. m.%. N.1/16. WSW.1^. SSW.I^.

S.by E .1^. SSW.1/8m S,}




^ ^ o ffc-a. t/e-'rVctS Oyily Opa-ft

/ yA*h /e-rt-cc. a »vy6 0~t*J &7ctv~7a*0 /?-l3

& o r n a t y * o r f o l k I ~ , ! o f D _ t j < j £ . _


This old building, situated on the lands adjoining Prospect Reservoir, was formerly the home of the

Lawson family, and so has historic interest, — 1:1——“ —"— *—*------------


1 / »/

C &X. A. A ,r. ( f f e > t 6 yc o*t'.

77rt rrtuSi, c* r j s*iar^Cs /£





L o n d o n , F e b r u a r y i o , 1823.

Dear Sir,—Feelings of gratitude for

your kind attention to me in the early

part of life liave induced me to dedicate

to you the following short Journal

of my passage over the Blue Mountains,

in the colony of New South Wales,

under the persuasion that it will afford

you pleasure at all times to hear that

any of your family have been instrumental

in promoting the prosperity of

any country in which they may reside,

however distant that country may be

from the immediate seat of our Government.

Since my return to England many of

my friends have expressed a wish to

peruse my Journal. To meet their request

in the only practicable or satisfactory

manner, I have consented to its

being printed. Devoid as it is of any

higher pretensions than belong to it as

a plain unvarnished statement, it may

not be deemed wholly uninteresting,

I *

H Blaxland did

not exaggerate

when he referred

ito the

“ important alterations”



his expedition,

and he cleverly

sums up the

matter in his

reference to

the “ changing

o f the aspect

o f the colon y”

into a “ rich

and extensive



when it is considered what important

alterations the result of the expedition

has produced in the immediate interests

and prosperity of the colony. This

appears in nothing more decidedly

than the unlimited pasturage already

afforded to the very fine flocks of

merino sheep, as well as the extensive

field opened for the exertions of the

present, as well as future, generations.

It has changed the aspect of the colony,

from a confined insulated tract of land,

to a rich and extensive continent. II

This expedition, which has proved so

completely successful, resulted from

two previous attempts. One of these

was made by water, by His Excellency

the Governor, in person, whom I accompanied.

We ascended the River

Hawkesbury, or Nepean, from above

Emu Island, to the mouth of the Warragomby,*

or Great Western River,

where it emerges from the mountains,

and joins itself to that river, from its

mouth. We proceeded as far as it was

navigable by a small boat, which is only

a few miles further. It was found to

lose itself at different places, almost

entirely underneath and between immense

blocks of stones, being confined

on each side by perpendicular cliffs of

* This river is now known as the Warragamba.

w m /

/u^rCc^t? / y £ ^

/< 4}ya £ ^^ccvy^nV Lt^ f^L^M^yixa(,

fy y ? /C . /^ - SVL_ ^%/^-^\y*-r~^y f SV*-*y /i- .

/ ^ /hhrYt*-*-

P h oto. H . Phillips.

A V I E W O F T H E S T E E P A N D R U G G E D B L U E M O U N T A I N S N E A R K A T O O M B A .

N ear N arrow Neck, K atoom ba.

N ote.— T his view is typical o f the rugged nature o f the country w hich had to b e traversed by the First

M ountain Explorers.


i-L ~


the same kind of stone, which sometimes

rose as high as the tops of the

mountains, through which it appears to

have forced, or worn its way, with the

assistance, probably, of an earthquake

or some other great convulsion of


The other expedition was undertaken

by myself, attended by three European

servants and two natives, with a horse

to carry provisions and other necessaries.

We travelled on the left, or

south bank of the western river, and

found no impediment, by keeping in

the cow pastures, and crossing the different

streams of water before they

enter the rocks and precipices close to

the river. We were unable, however,

to penetrate westward, finding ourselves

turned eastward towards the

coast. We returned sooner than I intended,

owing to one man being taken

ill. The natives proved but of little

use, which determined me not to take

them again on my next distant expedition.

Very little information can be

obtained from any tribe out of its own

district, which is seldom more than

about thirty miles square. This journey

confirmed me in the opinion, that

it was practicable to find a passage

over the mountains, and I resolved at

some future period to attempt it, by

endeavouring to cross the river, and

reach the high land on its northern

bank by the ridge which appeared to

run westward, between the Warragomby

and the River Grose. I concluded,

that if no more difficulties were found

in travelling than had been experienced

on the other side, we must be

able to advance westward towards the

interior of the country, and have a fair

chance of passing the mountains. On

inquiry I found a person who had been

accustomed to hunt the kangaroo in the

mountains in the direction I wished to

go, and he undertook to take the horses

to the top of the first ridge. Soon after,

I mentioned the circumstance to His

Excellency the Governor, who thought

it reasonable, and expressed a wish

that I should make the attempt.!! Having

made every requisite preparation, I

applied to the two gentlemen who accompanied

me, to .join in the expedition,

and was fortunate in obtaining

their consent. Before we set out we

laid down the plan to be pursued, and

the course to be attempted, namely, to

ascend the ridge before mentioned, taking

the streams of water on the left,

f This is proof

positive that

Blaxland o rig i­

nal ed the expedition,


became the

leader, W entw

orth and

Lawson being

associated with

him. The ages

o f the explorers

at this time

were: Blaxland

35, W entworth

19, Lawson 38.

The “ plan” devised


destined to

prove successful,

and orig i­

nated with

Blaxland. He

had evidently

pondered the

m atter, after

his tw o previous

a bortive attem

pts, and

had taken

careful notes

o f the general

appearance o f

this p ortion of

the country.

. u ,

1 This is interesting,

as it

shows that

Cox’ s road fo l­

low ed very

closely on


tracks, with

the single exception

of the

ascent of the

firsit range.

(This in reference

to the

road made by

William Cox

under Governor



“ Mount Blaxland.”


has been identified

as that

isolated sugar

loaf on the

right bank of

the Cox 'River,

distant about

7 m iles S.W .

from Mount

York. The

mountain is

very little

changed at the

present day

(1913), and no

doubt presented


the same appearance


Blaxland. Blaxland

is hardly

correct in ascribing


naming of this

mountain to

Governor Macquarie.


name was

bestowed upon

it by G. W.

Evans, subsequently



Governor Macquarie,

on arrival

at ithe

terminal point

o f Blaxland’s


which was at

Mount Blaxland.


other smaller

conical shaped

bills on the

opposite sides

o f the stream

were named


and Lawson’s

Sugar Loaves


by Evans.


which appeared to empty themselves

into the Warragomby, as our guide;

being careful not to cross any of them,

but to go round their sources, so as to

be certain of keeping between them and

the streams that emptied themselves

into the River Grose.

To these gentlemen I have to express

my thanks for their company, and to

acknowledge that without their assistance

I should have had but little chance

of success.

The road which has since been made,

deviates but a few rods in some places

from the line cleared of the small trees

and bushes and marked by us.1I Nor

does it appear likely that any other line

of road will ever be discovered than at

the difficult and narrow passes that we

were fortunate to discover; by improving

which, a good carriage road has now

been made across the mountains.

Mount York is the western summit of

the mountains; the Yale of Clwydd the

first valley at their foot; from which a

mountain (afterwards named Mount

Blaxland by His Excellency Governor

Macquarie) is about eight miles distant

and which terminated our journey.

I remain, dear Sir, most respectfully,

Your affectionate nephew,





'O^Ddy 10m iles)


'/‘ /6 *$ /9*/)ays(7%m iles)



•/6*D jy(234 m iles)

//S7*Day [3/2 m iles)

f a * Day(46 m iles) 0 M rBanks

k a T O O M B ^ j ^ Day (3/? mi/es)

yf0L/n/Je§ ).

LAWSON]y i* fa y (4 '”'/es)

" //bHD ayfsm iles)

l i N O E N +^ lfy® Repu/Sc" (/8miles)

- t h y * y ( * » ./.i

The Barrier *»'

V* 0dy(//2 m iles)


/ \ M&6 ^Odysf?miles)

/ ^ fSmiles)

- 3 rtjDdy(3m/!es) Grose fP^T


' ^ u0dy(3%miles) 7o/> o f first f?idge

\ $ Day{2 miles) foofofF irst ffnfge



- 1

B L A X L A N D ’ S R O U T E A C R O S S T H E M O U N T A I N S IN 1813.

T h e present G reat W estern R oa d is inserted to show how closely it has follow ed Blaxland'

track in its general direction.


i 6


f “ Blaxland’s

Farm ” was

situa'ted on the

left bank of

South Creek,

about 3 miles

from the present


o f St. Marys.

The allotment

is shown on

an early map

o f the district

published in


* “ Emu Island”

does not exist

at the present

day, but o rig i­

nally it occupied

that sem i­

circular bend

o f the river

about 1 mile

north from the


bridge. Here

the stream was

shallow enough

to permit o f an

easy crossing.


the river from

a northerly

direction ('their

track from the

farm would lie

in a northwesterly

d irection

), they continued

on a

diagonal course

S.W ., and so

approached the

first range.

On Tuesday, May 11, 1813, Mr.

Gregory Blaxland, Mr. William Wentworth,

and Lieutenant Lawson, attended

by four servants, with five dogs,

and four horses laden with provisions,

ammunition, and other necessaries, left

Mr. Blaxland’s farm at South Creek,IT

for the purpose of endeavouring to

effect a passage over the Blue Mountains,

between the Western River and

the River Grose. They crossed the

Nepean, or Hawkesburv River, at the

ford, on to Emu Island,* at four o ’clock

p.m., and having proceeded, according

to their calculation, two miles in a

south-west direction, through forest

land and good pasture, encamped at five

o ’clock at the foot of the first ridge.

The distance travelled on this and ou

the subsequent days was computed by

time, the rate being estimated at about

D ay. Date. Distance. Bearing. Remarks.

1 M ay 11 2 S .W . to

W .N .W .

3 |

Blaxland’s Farm was known as "Lee

Holme",and consisted of 2000acres.To

reach„it.follow Mamre Road from St

Mary*^ Railway station,due south.,crossing

Western road,and continue on throf

"Mamre" ,Rev.W.Marsden's Farm, on to

Erskine creek,where there is a post

office. The farm was on the western

hank of South Creek,opposite Erskine


Blaxland and party proceeded

from the farm on May 11th, 1813,in a

north-westerly direction,across ;

"Regentville",crossing.the river at

Emu Island.

(per W.S.Freame,Westmead)




»Th*fS far they mere g^companied by two

other gentlemen:-


floteY.The names of both th^fie gentle

men have not \peen recorded,but,one of them

is believed to have been M*iar Mercer,of

"Mercer s vale" V^awkesbury.y-River,who lies

buried on his oldx estate in this locality.

Major Mercer'.first visited N.S.W.

in 1770,with uaptainH



two miles per hour. Thus far they

were accompanied by two other gentle- i xam es not

.i .......... * . M, . - , x i i . ■ r? i I., recorded.

^ ( /) / Je fi+ iJ /fC#J

Ou the following morning (May 12),

as soon as the heavy dew was off,

which was about nine'a.m., they proceeded

to ascend the ridge at the foot

of which they had camped the preceding

evening. Here they found a large

lagoon of good water, full of very

coarse rushes.* The high land of Grose. “ la ^ o n ”

0 mentioned is

Head appeared before them at about

seven miles distance, bearing north by b ? ^ k t t a t ’on'

east. They proceeded this day about »n',t,d.re’

three miles and a quarter, in a direc- bearing

7 given of Grose

tion varying from south-west to west- S S m iles

north-west; but, for a third of the way, dently from a

due west. The land was covered with the lagoon,

can be

scrubby brush-wood, very thick in ^ netddaVhe

places, with some trees of ordinary o f i f a x i a n X

, . 1 l * - i - i j - i * track thus

timber, which much incommoded the identified,

horses. The greater part of the way

they had deep 1’ocky gullies on each the general

side of their track, and the ridge they otY hT country

~ in this locality

followed was very crooked and intri- the present

cate. In the evening they encamped

Day. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Rem arks.

2 M ay 12 33

1 I

S .W . to W .N .W .

i W .

at the head of a deep gully, which they

had. to descend for water; they found

but just enough for the night, contained

in a hole in the rock, near which

they met Avith a kangaroo, that had just

been killed by an eagle. A small patch

of grass supplied the horses for the


They found it impossible to travel

through the brush before the dew was

off, and could not, therefore, proceed

at an earlier hour in the morning than

nine. After travelling about a mile on

the third day, in a west and north-west

direction, they arrived at a large tract

of forest land, rather hilly, the grass

and timber tolerably good, extending,

as they imagine, nearly to Grose Head,

in the same direction nearly as the

river. They computed it as two

thousand acres. Here they found a

“European?”‘s track marked by a European,If by cut-

Dawes, ^ ng tiie bark 0f the trees. Several

H ack in g,

though it is

m ere su p p osi-

native huts presented themselves at

uTo deflni" different places. They had not prorecord

l o g o ceeded above two miles, when they


D ay. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Rem arks.

3 M a y 13 3 W .N .W .

3 ? -


found themselves stopped by a brushwood

much thicker than they had

hitherto met with. This induced them

to alter their course, and to endeavour

to find another passage to the westward;

but every ridge which they explored

proved to terminate in a deep

rocky precipice; and they had no alternative

but to return to the thick brushwood,

which appeared to be on the main

ridge, with the determination to cut a

way through for the horses next day.

This day some of the horses, while

standing, fell several times under their

loads. The dogs killed a large kangaroo.

The party encamped in the

forest tract, with plenty of good grass

and water. fX) (_/f a * } )

On the next morning, leaving two

men to take care of the horses and provisions,

they proceeded to cut a path

through the thick brush-wood, on

which they considered the main ridge

of the mountain, between the Western

River and the River Grose; keeping the

heads of the gullies, which were supposed

to empty themselves into the

Western River on their left hand, and

into the River Grose on their right. As

they ascended the mountain these

U This was the


o f the “ blazed

tra ck ,” which

method was

continued to

the termination

of their tour

at Mt. Blaxland.

From this

point on the

return journey

great difficulty

was experienced

in finding

their wavback

'to the


This additional


told severely on

the party.


gullies became much deeper and more

rocky on each side. They now began

to mark their track by cutting the bark

of the trees on two sides.ff Having

cut their way for about five miles, they

returned in the evening to the spot on

which they had encamped the night

before. The fifth day was spent in

prosecuting the same tedious opera-1

tion; but, as much time was necessarily

lost in walking twice over the

track cleared the day before, they were

unable to cut away more than two

miles further. They found no food for

the horses the whole way. An emu was

heard on the other side of the gully, ^

calling continually in the night.

* This would

imply that

mutiny was

abroad, but

evidently the

counsels o f the

leader were listened

to, and

the trouble was


On Sunday they rested, and arranged

their future plan. They had reason,

however, to regret this suspension of

their proceedings, as it gave the men

leisure to ruminate on their danger; and

it was for some time doubtful whether,

on the next day, they could be persuaded

to venture farther.* The dogs

this day killed two small kangaroos.

D ay. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Rem arks.


M ay 14


N o record, probably W .


M ay 15


Photo. H . Phillips.

B L U E M O U N T A I N S C E N E R Y .


Near Blackheath.

N ote.— T h is view is typical of the rugged nature of the country w hich had to be.

traversed by the First Mountain Explorers.

f 2-


/V o n

^1 This is where

the difficulty of


to plot the

route of the

explorers correctly

is encountered.


varied directions

as given, imply

that some insurmountable

obstacles presented



through the

journey on this


* This description


with the nature

of the country

between Faulconbridge


Linden. The

bearings of

Grose Head and

Mount Bank?

(now King

George) would

be about correct

from this


They barked and ran off continually

during the whole night; and at daylight,

a tremendous howling of native

dogs was heard, who apparently had

xbeen watching them during the night.

On Monday, the 17th, having laden

the horses with as much grass as could

be put on them, in addition to their

other burdens, they moved forward

along the path which they had cleared

and marked, about six miles and a half.

The bearing of the route, they had been

obliged to keep along the ridge, varied

exceedingly; it ran sometimes in a

north-north-western direction— sometimes

south-east, or due south, but

generally south-west, or south-southwest.1T

They encamped in the afternoon

between two very deep gullies, on a

narrow ridge, Grose Head bearing

north-east by north; and Mount Banks

north-west by west. They had to fetch

water up the side of the precipice, about

six hundred feet high, and could get

scarcely enough for the party.* The

horses had none this night; they per-

Day. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Remarks.

6 M ay 16 — — Sunday.

7 .. 17 H W .N .W ., S .E .,

S .S .W .

440* ton



formed their journey well, not having

to stand under their loads.

The following day was spent in cutting

a passage through the brush-wood,

for a mile and a half further. They

returned to their camp at five o ’clock,

very much tired and dispirited. The

ridge, which was not more than fifteen

or twenty yards wide, with deep precipices

on each side, was rendered almost

impassable by a perpendicular mass of

rock, nearly thirty feet high, extending

across the whole breadth, with the exception

of a small broken rugged track

in the centre. By removing a few large

stones, thev were enabled to_pass.il


t Long known

(bu t erroneously

called) as

“ Oaley’ s Repulse.”

This memorial,

or what

remains o f it,

was located on

Sept. 6, 1912,

by a party of

members o f the

Ausc. Historical

Society. (See illustration



* A mistaken

impression, as

Bass never

reached 'this

portion o f the


judging by his

route map and

description of

the country.

The cairn was

more probably

erected by

H acking or


Hills, east-north-east; Windsor, northeast

by east. At a little distance from

the spot at which they began the ascent,

they found a pyramidical heap of

stones,U the work, evidently, of some

European, one side of which the natives

had opened, probably in the expectation

of finding some treasure deposited

in it. This pile they concluded to be the

one erected by Mr. Bass, to mark the

end of his journey.* That gentleman attempted,

some time ago, to pass the

mountains, and to penetrate into the interior;

but having got thus far, he gave

up the undertaking as impracticable;

reporting, on his return, that it was

impossible to find a passage even for a

person on foot. Here, therefore, the

party had the satisfaction of believing

that they had penetrated as far as any

European had been before them.

t This swamp

is situated at

the foot o f the

ridge beyond

Linden station,

referred 'to on

page 23.

They encamped this day to refresh

their horses at the head of a swamp

covered with a coarse rushy grass, with

a small run of good water through the

middle of it.t In the afternoon, they

left their camp to mark and cut a road

for the next day.

They proceeded with the horses on

the 20tli nearly five miles, and en-

O B E L I S K , M T . Y O R K .

T h e Centenary Celebrations, M a y 28, 1913, took place near this memorial.


camped at noon at the head of a swamp

about three acres in extent, covered

with the same coarse rushy grass as

the last station, with a stream of water

Ifdwayfetwen running through it.1I The horses were

Law^on,°pro- obliged to feed 011 the swamp grass, as

bably the source j i • 1 i i i j t

o f Hazelbrook l l O t l l l l l g D 6 t l 6 r C O l U C l D 6 I O U I I C L I O P 1 1 1 6 1 1 1 .

The travellers left the camp as before,

in the afternoon, to cut a road for the

morrow’s journey. The ridge along

which their course lay now became

wider and more rocky, but wras still

covered with brush and small crooked

timber, except at the heads of the different

streams of water which ran down

the side of the mountain, where the land

was swampy and clear of trees. The

track of scarcely any animal was to be

seen, and very few birds. One man was

here taken dangerously ill with a cold.

Bearing of the route at first, southwesterly;

afterwards, north-north-west

.and west-north-west.

(Sj J pj.Qgj.ggg the next day was

nearly four miles, in a direction still

varying from north-west by north to

D ay. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Rem arks.

10 M ay 20 5 S .W .. then N .N .W . and

W .N .W .

II M ay 21 4 N .W . b y N . to S .W .

5 \ [ } b u k ]



south-west. They encamped in the

middle of the day at the head of a wellwatered

swamp, about five acres in extent;

pursuing, as before, their operations

in the afternoon.!! In the beginning

of the night the dogs ran off an<

barked violently. At the same time]

something was distinctly heard to run

through the brushwood, which they sup

posed to be one of the horses got loose:

but they had reason to believe afterwards

that they had been in great

danger— that the natives had followed

their track and advanced 011 them in

the night, intending to have speared

them by the light of their fire, but that

the dogs drove them off.*

On Saturday, the 22nd instant, they

proceeded in the track marked the preceding

day rather more than three

miles, in a south-westerly direction,

when they reached the summit of the

third and highest ridge of the mountains

southward of Mt. Banks.t From

the bearing of Prospect Hill and Grose

Head, they computed this spot to be

eighteen miles in a straight line from

the River Nepean, at the point at which

they crossed it. On the top of this ridge

they found about two thousand acres

of land clear of trees, covered with loose

H Situated in

the neighbourhood

o f W entworth


* This was the


lescape o f anni- /

hilation the - S

S S '

the only 'time

they were really

exposed to danger

from the

attacks of


fT h e high ridge

beyond W entw

orth Falls.

As a proof that

this is the

locality -indicated,

the spot

is due south

from Mt. King

George (o rig i­

nally named

Mt. Banks).

A. straight

line drawn due

W est from the

Nepean would

measure exactly

18 miles, showing

how rem

arkably accurate


w as on his

com putation.

5 ^

stones and short coarse grass, such as

grows 011 some of the commons in England.

Over this heath they proceeded

. for about a mile and a half, in a southwesterly

direction, and encamped by the

side of a fine stream of water with just

wood enough 011 the banks to serve for

firewood. From the summit they had

a fine view of all the settlements and

country eastward, and of a great extent

of country to the westward and southwest.

But their progress in both the

latter directions was stopped by an im-

< passable barrier of rock, which appeared

to divide the interior from the

coast as with a stone wall, rising perpendicularly

out of the side of the

1They were by

lllO U llta in . '

now evidently

on the edge o f T ~

some part of

the precipice

in the aiternoon they left their little

Kanlmbiavai-° camP in the charge of three of the men,

walnr1 and made an attempt to descend the

Ilatoomba. . . , « n • - » n

precipice by following some of the

streams of water or by getting down

at some of the projecting points where

the rocks had fallen in; but they were

baffled in every instance. In some


D ay. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Remarks.

12 M ay 22 31

l i

S .W .

4 !

Compass Bearings of Blaxland,Lawson & Wentworth’s Track

across the Mountains in 1813. (From Lieut.W.Lawspn's Journal)

t o . L 2 . t h j ,8,1?


Mav 14th.

May. .1 5 th -

May V^th.

May ,1,7th.

May .18 th.

May -19.th.

S.^;S.W.k.W;S.W.%. W.^. W.H.W.56. H by W.k.

N.H.W.^. Encamped at head of gully. (2% miles)

W;3g. N.WiJg; W by S . k . N.W.^. S.E.^.N.M.fe.

N.E.^. N.w.^k. (3% miles)




W.S.W.fc. W.fe. N.W.fe. W.N.W.3*. W.^. N.N.W.%.

W by TS.k. S.W.Jg. W.%. S.W.^. W.&. S.E.5k.

w;s.w.fe. s.w.k.-s.s.vt.k. w.s.w.k. s.w.k. s.k.

S.W.k. W.fe. S.S.W.k. W.S.w.k. {'Ik miles)


W.S.W.Jg. W.?£. W.by S.ik. (f% miles) Narrow

Pass met with (Linden). "Here we found a large

"heap of stohes piled up; no doubt it was

May 25th.

May 26th.


May 28th.

W.by IT.1/8. SW.1/16. W.by N.fc. MW.fc. W.1/8

SSW.k. SSW.%. WSW.k. NW by W.fc. W.k. M W . 1/8

SW;by W.k. HW.fe. IT.3*. HE.k. ( 4 3/1 6ths miles)

Encamped at head of Swamp.

WSW.1/16. NW.k. ME.5k. HW.Jg. N.by IT.k. NW.Jf.

M W . 5^. N.k. M W . 1/1 6. IT.1/8. N.k. (2k miles)

HW.by 1T.1/16. N.3/8. ME.k. N.1/16. UW.1/16

HE.1/16. ME.k. (Grossed a large common).

MW.k. SW.1/8. W.k. MW.k. WUW.1/8. M W A.

N.k. HE.1/8. (4 1/8 miles) Encamped at head

of Lagoon)

NW.1/8. N .k. WSW.k. N.1/16. WM.k. N.1/8. M W . k

wm.k. NW.k. w.1/8. whw.1/16. NW.k. m by N.k.

W.k. N.k. NNW.k. m.%. ME.1/16. WNW.1/8. NW.1/8

(arrival at Mt York) (4% miles)

May 29th.

NE.k. MW.1k;.


(1% miles) encamped by river)the


May 51 st.

Resting in camp.

sw.3. w.2. NW.k. ME.k. SSW.k. (6 miles) Mt

Blaxland,their furthest point.


Mav 20th.

May 2,1a t.

lay, 2.2 aft.

.May 2?rfl.

.May. .24, til.

■ B s a g s n a w ■ ■ m i i r II i I M M M — — L l . L 1 ■

stones at the end of his Journey" (Caley’s

Repulse). Encamped at head of small Lagoon

S.E.fe. S.k. S.k. S.S.W.%. W by S.1/8® W.1/8.

NiWsfe. S.W.%. W;N.W.1/8. N.N.W.1/8. N.W.fcy H.fc

N.W.ty W M. N.ff.W.fe. W.N.W.&. (b% miles)

Encamped at head of small Lagoon.

N.Wiby K.k. Wife; N.W.k. N.JT.W.k. S.W.k. W.k.

N.W.by W.fe. W.S.W.1%. (4% miles)

Encamped at head of small swamp.

WiS.W.1 . S.W.1 /8.-N.W.fcy W.1/8® W.1/8. W.hy O

S.W.tjy W.1/8. N.W.by W.1/8. S.W.by W.k. WSW.1/8

NiW.1 /8.-W.fc. S.w.k. W.1/16. S.W.by W.1/8.W.^

s.1. S.W.%. (5% & 3/1 6ths.miles) Reached highest

point of land. ftBlackheath) Prospect Hill

E.Grose Head HE. Hat Hill SE by S.

* • • * • «

N.Eife. N.1 . N.N.W.%. N.1/8. N.W,k. W.k. W.N.W.Jg

N.N.W.k. Encamped at head pf large Lagoon.

(3 1/8 miles)

N.-by W.1/16. BW.1/16. MW.k. W .k. N.1/16. WSW.fc

SSW.k. s.ly E.k. SSW.1/8. S.k. W.1 . WSW.%. ssw.%

NW.%. encamped near large Lagoon. (3% & 3/l6ths






places the perpendicular height of the

rocks above the earth below could not

be less than four hundred feet. Could

they have accomplished a descent, they

hoped to procure mineral specimens

which might throw light on the geological

character of the country, as the

strata appeared to be exposed for many

hundred feet from the top of the rock

to the beds of the several rivers beneath.

The broken rocky country on the

western side of the cow-pasture has the

appearance of having acquired its present

form from an earthquake, or some

other dreadful convulsion of nature, at

a much later period than the mountains

northward, of which Mount Banks

forms the southern extremity. The

aspect of the country which lay beneath

them much disappointed the travellers;

it appeared to consist of sand and small

scrubby brushwood, intersected with

broken rocky mountains, with streams

of water running between them to the

eastward, towards one point, where they

probably form the Western River, and

enter the mountains.

They now flattered themselves that

they had surmounted half the difficulties

of their undertaking, expecting to find a

H The fact that

the party resolved

to bear

more to the

North, in their

endeavours to

find a pas;age

down to the

low er lands, is

responsible for

the accidental

arrival on the

high tongue of

land, now

known as Mt.

York. It would

have been quite

probable, otherwise,

that they

would have attempted


descent of the

range in 'the

vicinity of Mt.

Victoria Pass,

where the lay

o f the country

w ould have

presented 'less

difficulty, as

regards the

descent, than

Mt. York. This


however, came


when a more


route was discovered,


the opening of

the Victoria

Pass in 1832

sealed the fate

o f the old

Bathurst road

in its descent

o f Mt. York.

* Between

Mediow Bath

and Blackhea'th.

The swamp is

still dn existence.

t By “ clouds’ ’

Blaxland evidently


to imply the

rising mists

passage down the mountain more to the

northward. H

On the next day they proceeded about

three miles and a half; but the trouble

occasioned by the horses when they got

off the open land induced them to recur

to their former plan of devoting the

afternoon to marking and clearing a

track for the ensuing day, as the most

expeditious method of proceeding, not

withstanding that they had to go twice

over the same ground. The bearing of

their course this day was, at first, northeast

and north-north-west. They encamped

on the side of a swamp, with a

beautiful stream of water running

through it. ^ )


Their progress on the next da}7 was

four miles and a half, in a direction

varying from nortli-north-west to southsouth-west;

they encamped, as before, at

the head of a swamp.* This day, between

ten and eleven a.m., they obtained

a sight of the country below, when the

clouds ascended.t As they were marking

a road for the morrow, they heard a

D ay. D ale. Distance. Bearing. Rem arks.


May 23


N .E . and N .N .W .


May 24


N .N .W . to S .S .W .


native chopping wood very near them, wmashtehly’"

but he fled at the approach of the coasting along

the edge of the

dogs. (p) precipice-

On Tuesday, the 25th, they could proceed

only three miles and a half in a /i+ U >

varying direction, encamping at two

o ’clock at the side of a swamp. The

underwood, being very prickly and full

of small thorns, annoyed them very

much. This day they saw the track of

a wombat* for the first time. On the

26th they proceeded two miles and

three-quarters. The brush still continued

to be very thorny. The land to

the westward appeared sandy and

barren. This day they saw the fires of

some natives below; the number they j

computed at about thirty— men, women,

and children. They noticed also more

tracks of the wombat. On the 27th they

proceeded five miles and a quarter—

part of the way over another piece of

clear land, without trees; they saw more the counitry

,• n i i i j i * i around Black-

B a t l V e n r e s . a n d a b o u t t h e s a m e n u m b e r heath. as they

would now be

as before, but more in their direct

* An animal which burrows in the ground like a badger, and lives on grass.

D ay. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Remarks.

15 M a y 25 3 i N . and N .W .

16 .. 26 23 N . and N .W .

17 .. 27 5t .....................

(_/S) A rt JirrK-

1i This view of

the lower lying

country would

be obtained

from a spot in

the neighbourhood

of Mount


*The termination

o f this

day’s journey

brought them

out to the edge

of Mt. York. It

is quite possible

that on

observing the

low-dying lands

beneath him,

Blaxland con-,

ceived that he

had at length

reached 'the

termination of

the main

range, and

then decided

to push on

some distance

further, where

from one or

other of the

elevations beyond

he would

be able to obtain

some idea

of ‘the country

to the westward.


course. From the top of the rocks they

saw a large piece of land below, clear of

trees, but apparently a poor reedy

swamp. They met with some good

timber in this day’s route. 1

. The bearing of the route for the last /

three days lias been chiefly north and


On the 28tli they proceeded about five

miles and three-quarters. Not being

able to find water, they did not halt till

five o ’clock, when they took up their

station on the edge of the precipice.* To

their great satisfaction, they discovered

that what they had supposed to be sandy

barren land below the mountain, was

forest land, covered with good grass and

with timber of an inferior quality. In

the evening they contrived to get their

horses down the mountain by cutting a

small trench with a hoe, which kept

them from slipping, and here they again

tasted fresh grass for the first time since

they left the forest land 'on the other

side of the mountain. They were getting

into miserable condition. Water

D ay. D ate. Distance,



18 May 28 5J

N o R ecord .

Probably N .W .


If “ The Lett

River,” which

was crossed

next day.

(Named by

Evans, and recorded

in his

journal as the

“ Riverlett,”

meaning the

Rivulet. Hence

the present

name of this


The party

evidently returned

to the

summit o f the

mountain, where

the camp o f

the evening of

May 28 was


t The first

Bathurst road,

which passed

over Mt. York,

was formed

along 'this pass,

and traces of

the work are

still (1912)

distinctly visible.

$ Blaxland is

somewhat out

in this calculation,

as a

straight line

drawn from the

summit o f 'the

first range,

above the

Nepean, running

N.W .,

would measure

nearer 30 miles

—not 20—as



was found about two miles below the

foot of the mountain.!! The second camp

of natives moved before them about

three miles. In this day’s route little

timber was observed fit for building.

On the 29th, having got up the horses

and loaded them, they began to descend

the mountain* at seven o ’clock through

a pass in the rock, about thirty feet

wide, which they had discovered the day

before, when the want of water put

them on the alert.t Part of the descent

was so steep that the horses could but

just keep their footing without a load,

so that, for some way, the party were

obliged to carry the packages themselves.

A cart road might, however,

easily be made by cutting a slanting

trench along the side of the mountain,

which is here covered with earth. This

pass is, according to their computation,

about twenty miles north-west in a

straight line from the point at which

they ascended the summit of the mountains.i

They reached the foot at nine

o ’clock a.m., and proceeded two miles

Day. Date. Distance. Bearing. Remarks.

19 May 29 2 N.N.W.

7 5 [b l< n k J





north-north-west, mostly through open

meadow land, clear of trees, the grass

being from two to three feet high. They » *

encamped on the bank of a fine stream of ' '

water.1I The natives, as was observed i pi*-would

- — -------— 7 bring them to

by the smoke of their fires, moved be- SV^abTut

fore them as they did yesterday. The eltmofetheuth"

dogs killed a kangaroo, which was very road.1" ' ale

acceptable, as the party had lived on

salt meat since they caught the last.

The timber seen this day appeared

rotten and unfit for building.

Sunday, the 30th, they rested in their

encampment. One of the party shot a

kangaroo with his rifle, at a great distance

across a wide valley. The climate

here was found very much colder than

that of the mountain or of the settlements

on the east side, where no signs

of frost had made its appearance when

the party set out. During the night the

ground was covered with a thick frost,

and a leg of the kangaroo was quite

frozen. From the dead and brown appearance

of the grass it was evident that

the weather had been severe for some

D ay. D ate. Distance. Bearing. Remarks.

20 M a y 30 - Sunday.

7 S

time past. They were all much surprised

at this degree of cold and frost

in the latitude of about 34deg. The

track of the emu was noticed at several

places near the camp.

On the Monday they proceeded about

six miles south-west and west, through

forest land, remarkably well watered,

and several open meadows, clear of

trees, and covered with high good grass.

1 nw ihe Lett rpiiev crossed two fine streams of water.H

River, lower


P h o to . H . P h illip s.

B L U E M O U N T A I N S C E N E R Y .

N E A R ECH O P O IN T , K A T O O M B A .

N o te .—T h is view is typical o f the rugged nature of the country w hich had to be

traversed b y the First Mountain Explorers.


Photo. F. W alker.

P h o to . F . W a lk e r .



3/' ^/*3,



3 9

fine stream of water, at a short distance

from a high hill, in the shape of a sugar

loaf.TT In the afternoon they ascended 20^hbearb£reek,

its summit, from whence they descried tte‘cS?mw.

all around, forest or grass land, suf- loarwuYs

, M ount Blaxficient

in extent, in their opinion, to

support the stock of the colony for the srtiSmboveTwo

next thirty years. This was the ex- shaped hills in

treme point of their journey. The dis- ity wiere also

v ** named by

tance they had travelled they computed a^|ntL'aw.

at about fifty-eight miles nearly north- ioanJ«s"?The

west; that is, fifty miles through the


1912> and pro_

mountain (the greater part of which babiy stood on

v ° w the very spot

they had walked over three times), and rnhderhei3Bp“ tynd

eight miles through the forest land be- positioned

yond it, reckoning the descent of the m agnificent

prospect, emmountain

to be half a mile to the foot. »>»


to be passed

over, Blaxland,

in view o f the

physical condition

o f the

party, and recognising


value o f the

w ork already


decided to return

to the

settlement, as

it was hopeless

to proceed

further. No

dou'bt his disappointment

was keen, when

the pro?pect

from the summ

it of Mt.

Blaxland was

revealed to

him. He possi

bly anticipated

finding a level

stretch o f country

behind the

range which

shut them in

after leaving

Mt. York, but

was soon undeceived.


the circu m ­

stances Blaxland’s


was a wise one,

and even if he

and his party

did not com ­

plete the entire

passage o f the


they, and they

alone, are deserving

o f the

honour which

w ill ever be

theirs o f finding

a practical

passage across

the main portion

o f this

hitherto insurmountable


Mt. York. _

It i9 difficult

to say what

this noise was

really occasioned

by. It could

not have come

from the settlements



all the difficulties which had hitherto

prevented the interior of the country

from being explored, and the colony

from being extended. They had partly

cleared, 01*, at least, marked out, a road

by which the passage of the mountain

might easily be effected. Their provisions

were nearly expended, their

clothes and shoes were in very bad condition,

and the whole party were ill with

bowel complaints. These considera- !

tions determined them, therefore, to re- .

turn home by the track they came. On

Tuesday, the 1st of June, they arrived

at the f oot of the mountain which they A-'4

had descended, where they encamped

for the night. The following day they

began to ascend the mountain at seven

o ’clock, and reached the summit at ten;

they were obliged to carry the packages

themselves up part of the ascent.

They encamped in the evening at one

of their old stations. One of the men

had left his great coat on the top of

the rock, where they reloaded the

horses, and it was found by the next

party who traversed the mountain. On

the 3rd they readied another of their ^

old stations. Here, during the night, ' -

they heard a confused noise arising

from the eastern settlements below.

which, after having been so long accustomed

to the death-like stillness of the prointerior,

had a very striking: effect. On underground

0 disturbance. A

the 4th they arrived at the end of their ^c°eu?g“ incimarked

track, and encamped in the J o ^ i ’ w ^ r e

forest land where they had to cut the of his journey

he recorded the

grass for their horses. One of the horses ^ct that at a

0 particular spot

fell this day with his load, quite ex- surgSi.^

liausted, and was with difficultv got on, hThis wl^ot

• course, an utter

atter having


his load put on the other impossibility,

and the origin

horses. The next day, the 5th, was the w a f p r ^ i w y

most unpleasant and fatiguing they had heard by Blax-

, land.

experienced. The track not being

marked, they had great difficulty in poS’nt homefinding

their way back to the river, w ere no marks

on the trees to

which they did not reach till four o ’clock ffl,lde thenip.m.

They then once more encamped

for the night to refresh themselves and

'the horses. They had no provisions thYsSment

now left except a little flour, but T )J * Q - provisions, it

appears tha-c

cured some from the settlement on the

other side of the river. On Sundav, the member of the

6th of June, they crossed the rivd* by swim m ing,

after breakfast, and reached their r

homes, all in good health. The *

winter had not set in on this side of the

mountain, nor had their been any




Summary of Daily Averages and Total

Distance Travelled,

Nepean to Mount Blaxland.







1 May II 2 S .W . to W .N .W .

2 .. 12 3f

S .W . to W .N .W ,,

M -W .

3 13 3 W .N .W .

4 14 5 No record.

5 15 2 ,

6 .. 16 — ------- Sunday.

W .N .W ., S .E .,

7 .. 17 H


8 18 H W . and S .W .

9 19 4 *» **

10 .. 20 5. S.W ..then W .N .W .

II 21 4 N .W .b y N . to S.W .

12 .. 22 4S S.W .

13 .. 23 n N .E . and N .N .W . Sunday.

14 .. 24 4 N .N .W . to S .S .W .

15 .. 25 34 N . and N .W .

16 „ 26 2S »* »»

17 27 51 » ,,

18 .. 28 n No record. Probably

N .W .

19 29 2 N .N .W .

20 „ 30 — - Sunday.

21 31 6 S .W . and W .

21 Days 66| Miles

Average direction,

N . West.

“ C A L E Y S R E P U L S E "

P h o to . F . W a lk e r .

Located Friday, Septem ber 6th, 1912, by M em bers of the Australian Historical Society.


P h o to . F . W a lk e r .

T R E E A T F O O T O F M O U N T B L A X L A N D , M A R K E D B Y T H E

E X P L O R E R S IN 1813.



Government House,

Sydney, Feb. 12,1814.

It having been long deemed an object of

great importance by His Excellency the

Governor, to ascertain what resources

this colony might possess in the interior,

beyond its present known and circumscribed

limits, with a view to meet the

necessary demands of its rapidly increasing

population; and the great importance

of the discovery of new tracts

of good soil, being much enhanced by

the consideration of the long-continued

droughts of the present season, so injurious

in their effects to every class of

the community in the colony: His Excellency

was pleased some time since, to

equip a party of men, under the direction

of Mr. George W. Evans, one of the

Assistant Land Surveyors (in whose

zeal and abilities for such an undertaking

he had well-founded reason to confide),

and to furnish him with written

instructions for his guidance, in en-

0 \

GRO SE V A L L E Y (Blackheath), BLUE M O U N T A IN S.

P hoto. H . Phillips.

N ote.— T his view is typical of the rugged nature of the country w hich had to be traversed by the First

M ountain Explorers.


deavouring to discover a passage over

the Blue Mountains, and ascertaining

the qualities and general properties of

the soil he should meet with to the westward

of them.

This object having been happily

effected, and Mr. Evans returned with

his entire party, all in good health: the

Governor is pleased to direct that the

following summary of his tour of discovery,

extracted from his own journal,

shall be published for general information


“ Mr. Evans, attended by five men,

selected for their general knowledge of

the country, and habituated to such

difficulties as might be expected to

occur, was supplied with horses, arms,

and ammunition, and a plentiful store

of provisions for a two months’ tour.

His instructions were, that he should

commence the ascent of the Blue Mountains,

from the extremity of the present

known country at Emu Island, distant

about 36 miles from Sydney, and thence

proceed in as nearly a west direction as

the nature of the country he had to explore

would admit, and to continue his

journey as far as his means would enable


10 3


On Saturday, the 20th November last,

the party proceeded from Emu Island;

and on the fifth day, having then

effected their passage over the Blue

Mountains, arrived at the commencement

of a valley on the western side of

them, having passed over several tracts

of tolerably good soil, but also over

much rugged and very difficult mountain;

proceeding through this valley,

which Mr. Evans describes as beautiful

and fertile, with a rapid stream running

through it, he arrived at the termination

of the tour lately made by

Messrs. G. Blaxland, W. C. Wentworth,

and Lieutenant Lawson. Continuing in

the western direction prescribed in his

instructions, for the course of twentyone

days from this station, Mr. Evans

then found it necessary to return; and

on the 8th of January he arrived back

at Emu Island, after an excursion of

seven complete weeks. During the

course of this tour Mr. Evans passed

over several plains of great extent,

interspersed with hills and valleys,

abounding in the richest soil, and with

various streams of water and chains of

ponds. The country he traversed measured

ninety-eight miles and a half be­

1) This 'is a very

good instance

of the remarkable


arrived at by

persons of

authority in

the early days

concerning a

country about

which they

knew so -little.

Macquarie never

dreamed when

he penned this

order that the

Western coast

lav*, not hundreds

of miles,

but actually

thousands of

miles from this


yond the termination of Messrs. Blaxland,

Wentworth, and Lawson’s tour,

and not less than one hundred and fifty

miles from Emu Island. The greater

part of these plains are described as

being nearly free of timber and brushwood,

and in capacity equal (in Mr.

Evan’s opinion) to every demand which

this colony may have for an extension

of tillage and pasture lands for a century

to come. The stream already mentioned

continues its course in a westerly

direction, and for several miles passing

through the valleys, with many and

great accessions of other streams becomes

a capacious and beautiful river,

abounding in fish of very large size and

fine flavour, many of which weighed not

less than fifteen pounds. This river is

supposed to empty itself into the ocean,

on the western side of New South

Wales, at a distance of from two to

three hundred miles from the termination

of the tour.1I From the summits of

some very high hills, Mr. Evans saw a

vast extent of flat country, lying in a

westerly direction, which appeared to

be bounded at a distance of about forty

miles by other hills. The general description

of these hitherto unexplored


•egions, given by Mr. Evans, is, that

hey very far surpass, in beauty and

fertility of soil, any he has seen in New

South Wales or Van Diemen’s Land.

In consideration of the importance of

hese discoveries, and calculating upon

lie effect they may have on the future

prosperity of this colony, His Excelency

the Governor is pleased to announce

his intention of presenting Mr.

Evans with a grant of one thousand

acres of land in Van Diemen’s Laud,

where he is to be stationed as Deputy

Surveyor; and, further, to make him a

pecuniary reward from the Colonial

Funds, in acknowledgment of his diligent

and active services on this occasion.

His Excellency also means to make

a pecuniary reward to the two free men

who accompanied Mr. Evans, and a

grant of land to each of them. To the

three convicts who also assisted in this

excursion the Governor means to grant

conditional pardons, and a small portion

of land to each of them, these men having

performed the services required of

them entirely to the satisfaction of Mr.


The Governor is happy to embrace

this opportunity of conveying his

acknowledgments to Gregory Blaxland

and William Charles Wentworth, Esqs.,

and Lieutenant William Lawson, of the

Royal Veteran Company, for their

enterprising and arduous exertions on

the tour of discovery which they voluntarily

performed in the month of May

last, when they effected a passage over

the Blue Mountains, and proceeded to

the extremity of the first valley, particularly

alluded to in Mr. Evans’ tour,

and being the first Europeans who had

accomplished the passage over the Blue

Mountains. The Governor, desirous to

confer on these gentlemen substantial

marks of his sense of their meritorious

exertions on this occasion, means to present

each of them with a grant of one

thousand acres of land in this newly

discovered country.

By command of His Excellency the




Extract from a letter written by the late

G. B . Barton,25//I#9, to Mr. Charles

R. Blaxland,of Wollun,a grandson

of the explorer.

1 am well aware of the facts to which

you allude; and so far as I am concerned

1 was never under the impression that

Wentworth was entitled to the credit

of having led the party over the Blue

Mountains. He never claimed it himself.

I have read his MS. account of the

journey, and also Lieut, Lawson’s, but

I have not seen Blaxland’s. If you can

spare me the printed copy you refer to

I will take care of it,

u z


Copy of letter written by Frank M. Bladen,

Editor “ H istorical Records of

N . S . W t o M r. Charles R.

B I ax I and, of IVollun,« grandson of

the explorer.

I have read your letter printed in the

“ Lithgow Mercury” of the 11th September,

1903, and bearing on the discovery

of a pass over the Blue Mountains

in May, 1813.

I have before me the journals of each

of the three men (Gregory Blaxland,

W illiam Lawson, and William Charles

Wentworth), who, with four servants,

formed the expedition; so far as these

records go, they serve to prove that

Gregory Blaxland was the leader of the

party; and I do not know of any evidence

written or traditional which disputes

his claim. There is certainly

no reliable evidence which points to

Wentworth as being the leader, nor did

he ever claim to have been so.

13 OI

Copy of letter written by D r. Houison,

late President, Australian Historical

Society, 29/3/04, to Mr. Charles

R. Blaxland, of Wollun, a grandson

of the explorer.

I have perused with much interest the

papers you left with me, but more

especially the diary of Gregory Blaxland.

Before all these, however, I would

place the evidence of William Charles

Wentworth himself as to the question

of the leadership of the expedition of

1813. In his ‘ ‘ Statistical Account of the

Settlement in Australia,” 3rd edition

(1824), page 171, he states: “ Of the

“ latter route into the Transalpine

“ country, Governor Macquarie has left

“ happily on record a more accurate as

“ well as authentic description in a gene-

“ ral order published by him upon his

“ return from his first visit to that

“ country, than any I could give from

“ mere memory at this lapse of time.

“ . . . It strikes me that I cannot

“ do better than insert it verbatim.”

Then follows the General Order, dated

56 .

Government House, Sydney, June 10th,

1815, from which I make the following


Page 177. “ Three miles westward of

“ the Yale of Chvydd, Messrs. Blaxland,

“ Wentworth, and Lawson had formerly

“ terminated their excursion,” and

again on the same page, “ In commemor

a tio n of their merits, three beau-

“ tiful high hills, joining each other at

‘ ‘ the end of their tour at this place, have

“ received their names in the following

“ order, viz., Mount Blaxland, Went-

“ worth’s Sugarloaf, and Lawson’s

“ Sugarloaf.”

I think this speaks so conclusively

that further comment appears to be unnecessary.

S. T. Leigh & Co., Ltd., Printers. Sydney.

(B rit.M as.M .S.8958) ! t j [ b h ,h k j

Letter to Sir Joseph. Banks from Gregory Blaxland

under date "Brnah Farm” .Nov. 10.18.1 6 .

S ir ,

From some conversation I have had with Mr Vickery,surgeon

o f the "E lizabeth " tran sport,I fin d that

the business o f our having passed the mountains and

opened the in te rio r o f the country,has been either

misrepresented,or has not "been fu lly explained in


"As i t was hy your recommendation that I was sent

out to s e ttle in the co lo n y .it may be pleasing to you

to hear how far by ny exertions I have been able to

remunerate the B ritish Government for the expense incurred

in my f i r s t establishment,which I always considered

myself bound to attempt the f i r s t opportunity

that might o ffe r .

"The onject o f attempting a passage over the Western

or Blue Mountains I always considered in a favorable

point o f view, and about two years and a h a lf before

I set out on the expedition in which we succeed

e d ,! went,with three European servants,two n atives,

and one horse to carry provisions and n ecessaries,to

explore the back o f the low pasture,in which I could

travel with ease by keeping a t the heads o f the runs

o f water which emptied themselves into some river in

the in te r io r -to the westward a3 I suppdsed-but at the

same time I found m yself turning evidently every day

to the coast eastw ard,directly contrary to the course

I wished to proceed. I had a man in th is expedition

taken ill,w h o died on h is return. I did not know i t ,

but afterwards ffrund he was unwell when he set o u t.I

was by th is accident forced to return back many days

sooner than I had f i r s t intended,although I had,for a

day or two before I did return,considered i t impossib

le to penetrate the in terio r from the low pasture,

either with horses or c a t t le .

"Some time a fter which expedition I went up the

Western River with a party as fa r as we could get

; fc+wf (Vvv

perpendicular. Here we saw the eonrse of

the Western River and that broken Country

at Natal, the back of the Cowpasters. No

doubt this is the remains of some dreadful


The tra

j “ Some time alter which expedition I went

up the Western River with a party as far

|as we could get with a boat. I then found

i that the river ran in th« same direction 1

, had before - travelled, and that the different

runs of water I had before headed in the low

pasture emptied themselves into that river.

"I th ej first formed the idea that if 1

could get on the high land on the righthand

side I r north bank or tbe Western River,

and pursue the same plan of travelling as

I had done before, that I must inevitably be

carried into the Interior of the country,

which idea I mentioned afterwards to his

Excellency. He thought It reasonable, and

wished me to attempt it, but offered me

no asssistance.

"I made up my

PJ7/re.c/-ion f-rcru v 'fb /W

/>* & c t r « n /.


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