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Macquarie’s Crossing

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Macquarie's crossing

 

Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson’s journey across the Blue Mountains sparked further and rapid exploration. On their return Governor Macquarie quickly sent his assistant Surveyor-General, George William Evans (1775-1852), to investigate building a road over the mountains.

Evans retraced the explorers' trail in November 1813, surveyed the route, pushed on into the grassy plains beyond the mountains and discovered the Macquarie and Lachlan Rivers. Macquarie then commissioned William Cox to build the road, completing the task in less than six months with a team of convict workers.

Eager to see the new territory for himself, Macquarie set out to inspect the road and the land beyond the mountains on 25 April 1815. The Governor and Mrs Macquarie left Sydney with a group of 50 people including William Cox, the Surveyor-General John Oxley, and John William Lewin (1770-1819), the artist who was to make a visual record of the excursion.

View William Cox's journal kept during the building of the road in 1814

Once in the mountains, the party witnessed first hand the challenges the road builders had tackled, as well as the scenic grandeur. Descending into the grassy plains on the western side of the mountains, they camped on the banks of the Macquarie River for a week. It was during this time that the Governor selected a suitable site for the erection of a town to be named Bathurst. The party returned to Sydney on 19 May 1815.

Major Henry Antill (1779-1852) and John Lewin both kept records of the trip, Antill a journal and Lewin watercolours. Lewin's paintings of the excursion capture previously unrecorded landscapes, and provide some wonderful behind-the-scene glimpses into the organisation needed for the excursion. 

Read Henry Colden Antill's complete Journal
View the full collection of John Lewin's paintings
View a chart of part of the interior of New South Wales by John Oxley, Surveyor General

Celebrating the centenary of the crossing

To mark the centenary of the crossing of the Blue Mountains by Gregory Blaxland, William Wentworth and William Lawson, historian, writer and lecturer Frank Walker (1861-1948) wrote the official history, published in 1913 by the Blue Mountains Centenary Celebrations Committee.

To support his research, he amassed a large collection of maps, leaflets, brochures and newspaper clippings. Some of Walker’s collection is held at the State Library of New South Wales.

Crossing the Blue Mountains

First crossing of the Blue Mountains of N.S.W. : [newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc.] Album view
1912
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7896037
First crossing of the Blue Mountains of N.S.W. : [newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc.] Album view
1912
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7896046
First crossing of the Blue Mountains of N.S.W. : [newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc.] Album view
1912
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7896007
First crossing of the Blue Mountains of N.S.W. : [newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc.] Album view
1912
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7896052
First crossing of the Blue Mountains : newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc. Album view
1913
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7902007
First crossing of the Blue Mountains : newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc. Album view
1913
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7902008
First crossing of the Blue Mountains : newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc. [Album view]
1913
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7902009
First crossing of the Blue Mountains : newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc. [Album view]
1912
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7902019
First crossing of the Blue Mountains : newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc. [Album view]
1913
Frank Walker
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a7902047
First crossing of the Blue Mountains : newspaper extracts, manuscript notes, maps, photographs, etc. [Album view]
1913
Frank Walker
Digital ID: 
a7896180
View collection item detail

This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.