Tag Archives: Blue Mountains

The European crossing of the Blue Mountains: some bibliography

The following is a selection of references, to be added to progressively.

Some early materials

Blaxland, Gregory, A Journal of a Tour of Discovery across the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, in the Year 1813, with references and explanatory notes, maps, etc. by Frank Walker, [Sydney, S.T. Leigh & Co., printers, 1913?].

Anon. [James O’Hara], The History of New South Wales, London, J. Hatchard, 1817; 2nd ed., 1818.

[Evans, George William; Turpin, Mary Lemprière], The First Crossing of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, by George William Evans, Deputy Surveyor General of New South Wales, 30th November 1813, compiled by his daughter, Mary Lemprière Turpin, née Evans, [Sydney?], [publisher?], c. 1913.

 Some studies

Anon., Crossing the Blue Mountains: Journeys through Two Centuries, from Naturalist Charles Darwin to Novelist David Foster, Potts Point NSW, Duffy & Snellgrove, 1997.

Brownscombe, Ross (ed.), On Suspect Terrain: Journals of Exploration in the Blue Mountains 1795-1820, Brighton East VIC, Forever Wild Press, 2004. Including original materials, some previously unpublished. Reviewed: Network Review of Books (The Australian Public Intellectual Network), March 2005 (Paul Genoni).

Cameron, Bruce, ‘Sun Valley’, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008. Including reference to evidence of Aboriginal inhabitants in the Blue Mountains. Sun Valley is near Springwood. Cf. Bruce Cameron, Sun Valley and Long Angle Gully: A History, Valley Heights NSW, the author, 1998.

Cunningham, Chris, The Blue Mountains Rediscovered: Beyond the Myths of Early Australian Exploration, Kenthurst NSW, Kangaroo Press, 1996.

Currey, C.H. ‘The First Crossing of the Blue Mountains by Governor and Mrs Macquarie and the Foundation of the City of Bathurst on May 7, 1815’, Journal (Royal Australian Historical Society) 41.3, 1955.

Ellis, M.H., Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1978.

Havard, W.L. (ed.), ‘Gregory Blaxland’s Narrative and Journal Relating to the First Expedition over the Blue Mountains, New South Wales’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), 23.1, 1937, 28-42.

Havard, W.L., and B.T. Dowd, Historic Glenroy, Cox’s River, Hartley N.S.W., [Blaxland NSW], Blaxland Shire Council, [1937]. Online presentation of text and images, The Lithgow, Hartley Town and Around Website.

Houison, J.K.S., ‘John and Gregory Blaxland’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), 22.1, 1936, 1-41.

Lee, Ida, Early Explorers in Australia: From the Log-Books and Journals, Including the Diary of Allan Cunningham, Botanist, from March 1, 1817, to November 19, 1818, London, Methuen, 1925, chap. XV, at p. 489. ‘Cunningham Reaches Pandora’s Pass’. Brief description of Allan Cunningham’s journey over the Mountains, September 1822. A transcript online.

Low, John, ‘A Rude, Peculiar World: Early Exploration of the Blue Mountains’, in Peter Stanbury (ed.), The Blue Mountains: Grand Adventure for All, Sydney, Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, 1985; 2nd ed., Sydney, Macleay Museum/ Second Back Row Press, 1988.

Mackaness, George (coll. and ed.), Fourteen Journeys over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, 1813-1841 (Australian Historical Monographs, New Series, 22-24), 3 vols., Sydney, Mackaness, 1950; repr., Sydney, Horwitz-Grahame, 1965.

Macqueen, Andy, Somewhat Perilous: The Journeys of Singleton, Parr, Howe, Myles and Blaxland in the Northern Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls NSW, A. Macqueen, 2004.

Persse, Michael, ‘Wentworth, William Charles (1790–1872)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, and online.

Pulver, W[orters] R[eadett], Notes on the First Crossing of the Blue Mountains, 1813, The Institute [The Northern Engineering Institute of New South Wales], 1913.

Ritchie, J., A Biography of Lachlan Macquarie, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1986.

Ross, Valerie, The Everingham Letterbook: Letters of a First Fleet Convict, Wamberal, Anvil Press, 1985.

Scott, Ernest, Australian Discovery, London, Dent, 1929; repr., New York, Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1966. Online (Project Gutenberg).

Stockton, Eugene (ed.), Blue Mountains Dreaming: the Aboriginal Heritage, Winmalee NSW, Three Sisters Productions, 1993; 2nd ed., ed. Eugene Stockton and John Merriman, Lawson NSW, Blue Mountain Education and Research Trust, 2009.

Thomas, Martin, The Artificial Horizon: Imagining the Blue Mountains, Carlton VIC, Melbourne University Press, 2003. Reviewed, Network Review of Books (Australian Public Intellectual Network), February 2004 (Paul Genoni).

The above details are based on information to hand.

An era of drought

In his Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales (4th ed., 1875), John Dunmore Lang makes a number of notable references to weather patterns in the colony and consequences for the inhabitants.

In discussing exploration in the time of Governor Macquarie, Lang notes that floods on the Hawkesbury River were succeeded ‘in the usual course of the seasons in New South Wales, by a serious drought in the year 1813’ (p. 163). Given that the colony had over 65,000 sheep and 21,000 cattle, and nearly 2,000 horses, it was imperative to find new pastures for them, and this gave an impulse to search for land on the other side of the Blue Mountains.

A quarter of a century later there was a momentous period of drought in the time of Governor Darling. That Governor’s tenure (1825-1831) was marked by ‘four remarkable epochs’: ‘the era of general excitement … the era of general depression … the era of drought … the era of libels’ (p. 196).

In 1825 the Australian Agricultural Company was formed as a joint-stock company under Royal Charter, to cultivate land, to rear sheep, cattle and horses, and to contribute to the improvement of the colony (pp. 196 ff.). It had a capital of a million pounds sterling and was authorised to select and take possession of a million acres free of charge. Around the same time, other men of means in England, with agents in New South Wales, obtained extensive grants of land. The price of livestock had been rising during the time of Governor Brisbane (1821-1825), when landholdings increased and there was a corresponding demand for sheep and cattle. With the advent of the Australian Agricultural Company and the great extension of landholdings at that time the additional demand caused prices to rise rapidly. And then a ‘sheep and cattle mania’ formerly unknown in the colony ‘instantly seized on all ranks and classes of its inhabitants’ (p. 198). Barristers and attorneys, military officers and civilians, clergymen and doctors, merchants, settlers and dealers wanted to buy sheep and cattle at the markets.

The large numbers of sheep and cattle bought in 1826 and 1827 had to be paid for, they and their progeny had to be fed, and in the meantime agriculture contracted through an over-emphasis on livestock and grazing. It was even more disastrous, therefore, when encouraging weather gave way to a drought that lasted for nearly three years, from 1827 to 1829.

John Dunmore Lang, An Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales, from the Founding of the Colony in 1788 to the Present Day, 4th ed., vol. I, London, Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, 1875 [previous editions, 1834, 1837, 1852], pp. 163, 196-210. The literature on Governor Darling includes: ‘Darling, Sir Ralph (1772-1858)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, 1966, pp. 282-286, and online; Brian H. Fletcher, Ralph Darling: A Governor Maligned, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1984; Brian Fletcher, ‘Ralph Darling (19 December 1825 – 22 October 1831)’, in David Clune and Ken Turner (ed.), The Governors of New South Wales 1788-2010, Annandale NSW, Federation Press, 2009, chap. 7 (pp. 148-166).

A drought, a heat wave and high winds

In early February 1823, as in the first week of February in the previous year, Sydney was again in the grip of a drought. In the issue of Thursday 13 February the Sydney Gazette reported that the cattle on the Sydney side of the mountains were ‘deplorably off’, with the grass eaten away. Fortunately there was an abundance of supplies coming from the ‘new country’ on the other side, and there was beef from that region that ‘would no way discredit Old England.’ Rain was needed in Sydney soon or ‘the drought will be severely felt.’ The maize had been affected by lack of rain and it was likely that it would be scarce and dear.

‘Monday last’ (presumably 10 February) ‘was one of our hottest days.’ The temperature was still 80° at 4 in the afternoon. There was a stiff sea-breeze from the south-east and then about a quarter past 5 a gale-force ‘white squall’ sprang up from the south, a ‘hurricane that in a few moments spread for miles around the town of Sydney,’ enveloping the metropolis in ‘astonishing’ clouds of thick dust. It was among the most violent of gales ever experienced. The wind continued ‘with small intermission’ throughout the night. About 7 p.m. there were lightning and distant thunder, then ‘gentle and genial showers.’ The temperature was still 78 at 6 o’clock and 75 at 9 o’clock.

There had been a pattern of high temperatures at night in both January and February:

It has been nothing unusual to discover the thermometer, during the last month, as well as the present, as high as 70° of heat at 11 and 12 at night.

The temperatures mentioned, if accurate, are in the low to mid-twenties on the Celsius scale.

It was so windy on ‘Thursday last’ (this evidently means 6 February) that the Government boat the Antelope overturned as it was coming into Sydney Cove. Four crew had to be rescued and one named Stafford was drowned. The boat was recovered the next day.

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 13/2/1823, p. 2. 80, 75 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit are approximately 27, 24 and 21 degrees Centigrade. Monday 10 February: the wild weather events of ‘Monday last’ are narrated before reference to the windy conditions of ‘Thursday last’, but Monday 3 February would presumably be too far away and would be several days before the preceding issue of the Sydney Gazette. In the Sydney Gazette of 1/8/1818, p. 3, the Antelope is described as ‘a boat of 20 tons, belonging to the Government dock-yard.’ Accounts published in the Sydney Gazette in March and November 1820 and September and November 1821 refer to John Cadman, ‘Cockswain of H. M. Boat Antelope’ (also spelled Coxswain), in that position as far back as 25 December 1817. The Sydney Gazette of 2/1/1823, p. 1, lists ‘J. Cadman’ among recipients of grants of land. Cf. D.I. McDonald, ‘Cadman, John (1772-1848)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, 1966, p. 192, and online (no mention of a grant of land; unclear about the origins of the cottage in which Cadman lived; states that he lived there from 1816). According to the City of Sydney website, the building now called Cadman’s Cottage, at 110 George Street North, The Rocks, possibly designed by Francis Greenway, ‘was built in 1815-16 as the ‘Coxswain’s Barracks’ attached to Governor Macquarie’s dockyard and stores’; Cadman lived there for a time from 1827 onwards, when he was Superintendent of Government Craft (this statement omits reference to his having lived there earlier). It is Sydney’s earliest surviving example of a residential building. See also ‘Cadman’s Cottage’, in Dictionary of Sydney; ‘Cadmans Cottage Historic Site’, and ‘Plans of Cadmans Cottage, 1815-16’, on the website of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

Such precipices as would make you shudder

(Continuing with the story of the Hawkins family as they journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822. See the entry of 16/2/2011 and onwards.)

After arriving at Springwood on Sunday 14 April and spending the night in less than ideal accommodation, the Hawkins family took four days to get from there to Mount York, arriving (according to Elizabeth Hawkins’ letter) on 18 April (a Thursday). It seems that they took four or five more days to get to Bathurst, apparently reaching their destination late on Monday 22 or Tuesday 23 April. Elizabeth calculated that they were 18 days on the road since their departure on Easter Saturday. Her figures could be a little awry; it is clear that she erroneously dated Good Friday, the eve of their departure, to 4 instead of 5 April; and her description of the days between Springwood and Mount York telescopes the days to some extent. They had a couple of breaks before the Mountains, resting at Rooty Hill on Easter Sunday and spending several days at Emu Island, which they left on Friday 12 April; otherwise they travelled every day, including Sundays, despite government orders to the contrary. From Emu Island to Bathurst took about ten days.

In describing their progress between Springwood and Mount York, Elizabeth emphasises the way in which the road constantly takes detours because of the difficult terrain:

You must understand that the whole of the road, from the beginning to the end of the mountains, is cut entirely through a forest; nor can you go in a direct line to Bathurst from one mountain to another but you are obliged to wind round the edges of them, and at times you look down such precipices as would make you shudder.

The difficulties of the road were exaggerated by the fact that the bullocks were unco-operative. On leaving Springwood they attached three instead of two bullocks to the cart for extra pull, but this only made things worse. One or another bullock would lie down every now and again and the dogs would bark and bite the bullocks’ noses to get them up.

The barking of the dogs, the bellowing of the bullocks, and the swearing of the men made our heads ache, and kept us in continual terror. This was exactly the case every morning of the journey.

Rising and dipping and winding this way and that, the road took them ever upwards towards the heights of the Mountains, between Blackheath and Mount York. The steady rise to Blackheath can be seen graphically portrayed in a recent diagram based on heights above sea level of the modern railway stations along the way. The heights of the landforms are somewhat different, but the general effect is clear. At Mount Victoria the railway line diverges from the old and new roads, going north to Bell and then west to Lithgow.

‘The Mountains in 1822: Lady’s vivid diary, II’, Sydney Morning Herald 7/9/1929, p. 13.

The house at Springwood

(Continuing with the story of the Hawkins family as they journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822. See the entry of 16/2/2011 and onwards.)

In recounting the events of Sunday 14 April, Elizabeth Hawkins tells us, rather surprisingly, that a team of bullocks and ‘Hawkins’ horses’ had returned to Emu Island during the previous night. They had started off with two drays pulled by five bullocks each, another dray pulled by four horses, and a cart with two horses. Now they went on with a bullock dray, the horse dray and the cart. They also switched two of the bullocks over to the cart and used the two cart-horses with the bullock team, after their experience of the day before when the bullock teams alone failed to make the grade.

There is no mention of the idea of resting on Sunday. Presumably they could not rest but had to go on. They managed to go nine miles that day, but it was ‘a most fatiguing journey.’ They arrived at Springwood, where there was a house with some grass in front but otherwise surrounded by forest. ‘A good barn in England would have been a palace to this,’ Elizabeth comments.

Stationed there were a corporal and two men, who Elizabeth understood had the job of superintending Government stock; there was also the corporal’s wife. The house had been designed for more people, and had a large room where provisions had been stored, a large kitchen (‘with an immense fireplace’) and two small rooms. There were no chairs in the house. The kitchen had ‘a long table, a form, and some stumps of trees’ for chairs. Also staying there were several travellers on their way from Bathurst to Sydney.

It was getting dark and Hawkins had not arrived. Finally the store-keeper from Emu came to say that Hawkins was on his way but needed some of the horses sent back from Springwood to help him through. To Elizabeth’s relief her husband arrived just before 9 o’clock. The corporal’s wife, a fawning old woman, screamed out, ‘Welcome to Springwood, Sir.’ Hawkins was not impressed by the old lady, and Elizabeth was not impressed by the whole experience of staying there that night.

‘The Mountains in 1822: Lady’s vivid diary, II’, Sydney Morning Herald 7/9/1929, p. 13.

Weather conditions: Sunday 14 April 1822: Lapstone Hill to Springwood, fine. Letter, Elizabeth Hawkins to sister, 7 May 1822, partially reproduced in Sydney Morning Herald 7/9/1929, p. 13.

Such a scene as I cannot describe

(Continuing with the story of the Hawkins family as they journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822. See the entry of 16/2/2011 and onwards.)

After spending Friday 12 April getting away at last from Emu Island and moving perhaps half a mile along the side of the mountains to the point where the road started a steep ascent, the Hawkins family must have spent an uneasy night with the prospect of the task ahead and unable to make a proper camp at this location. It was only on the next night, Elizabeth tells us, that they pitched the tent for the first time.

The first hill was called Lapstone hill, ‘so called from all the stones being like a cobbler’s lapstone.’ They immediately found that their arrangements for the journey were not sufficient. The loads were too heavy for the bullocks to pull. They organised to get a cart from Emu so that they could send back some of their luggage. The horses attached to one of their drays managed the terrain very well. But even with some of their luggage discarded to lighten the load, having got the horse-dray to the top of the hill they had to bring the horses down to help with pulling the two drays drawn by bullocks.

On that Saturday they only covered one and a half miles. The day’s efforts were exhausting for everyone, including the women.

The fatigue to mother and myself was very great every night after the day’s journey in preparing the beds and giving the children their meals, the little ones being generally tired and cross.

Having said at an earlier stage that they set off with three drays and a cart, in describing the scene that evening Elizabeth refers to drays and carts. The nine men kept these carefully in view while they tended to immense cooking fires. In one place ‘our own man’ was roasting two fowls for the journey the next day. In another place ‘the men convicts’ (‘not the most prepossessing in their appearance’) were busy at their tasks. We do not hear how the female servant from the Factory at Parramatta was employed.

It must have been a scene both weird and enchanting. ‘It was a lovely moonlight night, and all was novelty and delight to the elder children.’ The nine men ranged about,

with the glow of the fires and the reflection of the moon shining on them in the midst of a forest, formed such a scene as I cannot describe.

Quotations are from ‘The Mountains in 1822: Lady’s vivid diary, II’, Sydney Morning Herald 7/9/1929, p. 13; other sources should be checked to clarify the original wording.

Weather conditions: Saturday 13 April 1822: Emu Island and Lapstone Hill, apparently fine; fine in the evening. Letter, Elizabeth Hawkins to sister, 7 May 1822, partially reproduced in Sydney Morning Herald 7/9/1929, p. 13.

This most tremendous journey

(Continuing with the story of the Hawkins family as they journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822. See the entry of 16/2/2011 and onwards.)

At last the day came, Friday 12 April 1822, when it was time for the Hawkins family to move off on their journey over the Blue Mountains. There was some final loading to do, and many things had to be left behind because they could not fit in all their luggage as well as the provisions required – food for the family and for nine men who accompanied them, and corn for the cattle as there was not enough grass on the Mountains. They had two drays pulled by five bullocks each, another dray pulled by four horses, and a cart with two horses; there were no more carts available. Government officers did as much as they could, says Elizabeth, to make the family comfortable. Sir John Jamison came to see them off and gave them ‘a quarter of mutton, a couple of fowls, and some butter.’ They left with the good wishes of all, ‘not excepting a party of natives who had come to bid us welcome.’

They had not gone far before progress was temporarily halted. No more than a quarter of a mile along the road, still within sight of Emu Island, the second bullock dray became bogged in the sandy bed of a stream that ran across their way. The store-keeper superintendent and overseer at Emu saw them in distress and came to help, and stayed till nightfall. It took an hour to get the dray out, with the horses pulling as well as the bullocks.

After another quarter of a mile of slow progress, they were well and truly confronted with the challenge of the climb ahead.

… and now, my dear sister, imagine me at the foot of a tremendous mountain, the difficulty of passing which is as great or greater, I suppose, than any known road in the world, not from the road’s being bad, as it has been made, and is hard all the way, but because of the extreme steepness of the road, the hollow places and the large and rugged pieces of rock.

The Hawkins were the first family of free settlers to attempt to cross the mountains, and Elizabeth had been left in no doubt about the difficulties to be expected.

I had now before me this most tremendous journey. I was told I deserved to be immortalised for the attempt, and that Government could not do too much for us for taking such a family to a settlement where none had ever gone before.

The day they set off from Emu Island to climb the Mountains was the day that Thomas Fitzherbert Hawkins’ appointment as Commissariat storekeeper at Bathurst was announced in the Sydney Gazette.

Quotations are from ‘The Mountains in 1822: Lady’s vivid diary, I’, Sydney Morning Herald 31/8/1929, p. 13; other sources should be checked to clarify the original wording.

Weather conditions: Friday 12 April 1822: Emu Island, apparently fine. Letter, Elizabeth Hawkins to sister, 7 May 1822, partially reproduced in Sydney Morning Herald 31/8/1929, p. 13.

Blue Mountains travel and accommodation in 1835-1836

Under the heading ‘Accommodations on the Mountain Road’, the Sydney Herald in July 1835 published a list of inns to be found along the road from the Nepean River to Bathurst. The newspaper noted:

Since the last License Meeting, a regular line of Inns at short stages has been established on the Mountain Road from the Nepean River to Bathurst, which renders travelling infinitely less irksome than it has been during previous years.

The ‘houses licensed for public accommodation’ are listed as being at the following places. The list shows eleven inns on the Mountains and gives their distances from Sydney.

Top of Lapstone-hill: Pilgrim (40 miles)
Fitzgerald’s Valley: Woolpack (45)
Twenty-mile hollow: Pembroke’s (55)
Jamison’s Valley: Weatherboard Inn (63).
Pulpit-hill: Scotch Thistle (70)
Blackheath: Gardner’s (77)
Mount Victoria: Skeene’s (83)
Hassan’s Walls: Traveller’s Inn (91)
Solitary Creek: Mail Coach (99).
Honeysuckle Flat: Trafalgar Inn (108)
Green Swamp: Green Man (120).

In addition, there were ten ‘houses of entertainment’ at Bathurst, seven on the Roxburgh or Old Settler’s side of the Macquarie River and three on the New Township or Government side,

the whole affording comfortable accommodation to every class of wayfarers respectively, from the luxurious traveller in his phaeton and pair, to the humble pedestrian, who forgets his fatigue over bread and cheese and beer.

In December of that year, under the heading ‘Bathurst Mail’, J. Reilly, in conjunction with Mr. Ireland, advertised in the Sydney Monitor their plans ‘on the commencement of the New Year, to start a CONVEYANCE to and from Bathurst and Sydney Twice a Week, leaving Sydney every Tuesday and Friday Morning, at 6 o’Clock…’ Mr. Reilly had already been providing a coach service in the Bathurst area. Booking offices were in Bathurst (Mrs. Dillon’s) and Sydney (J. Reilly’s, 109 Pitt-street). The schedule from Sydney to Bathurst would be:

Parramatta: arrive by 8 o’clock, breakfast, leave at 9
Penrith: arrive at half past 11, leave at 12
The Weather Board: arrive at 7, meet the conveyance from Bathurst, stop the night, start at 6 in the morning
[Blackheath:] Stop at Andrew Gardner’s, breakfast, leave at 9
Bathurst: arrive at 7.

From Bathurst, the conveyance would leave at 6 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday and Friday, reach the Weather Board that evening, start again at 6 in the morning, and reach Penrith at half-past 10. From Penrith ‘a large Carriage on Four Wheels, drawn by Three Horses,’ would reach Sydney the same evening. If there were sufficient customers, this Penrith Coach would run to and from Sydney daily.

List of inns: Sydney Herald 20/7/1835, p. 2. Bathurst Mail: Sydney Monitor 19/12/1835, p. 4; similarly 23/12/1835, p. 4.

The naming of Blackheath in the Blue Mountains

The extensive Hounslow Heath near London inspired Governor Lachlan Macquarie to give the name ‘Hounslow’ to a heath-like part of the Blue Mountains during his tour of inspection in April-May 1815. In his journal entry for Saturday 29 April 1815 he wrote:

The Ground about and adjacent to the 41 Mile Tree being a good stage for both Water and Forage, and it having rather a wild Heath-like appearance, I have named it “Hounslow”.

The reference to water and forage echoes the fact that Hounslow Heath had long been found a useful situation for army encampments.

On his return journey over the Blue Mountains from Bathurst Macquarie decided on a different name for the same site. In the entry for Monday 15 May he wrote:

We got into the Carriage on the summit of Mount York, and pursued our Journey forwards; arriving at our former Ground at the 41 Mile Tree at 2 o’clock, dis[tan]ce. from Cox’s River 14 miles. — This Place having a black wild appearance I have this day named it “Black-Heath”. — It affords however plenty of good water for Man and Beast and tolerable good Feed for the latter.

It seems rather unlikely that he had forgotten the name he assigned to the area a fortnight earlier. Possibly his words ‘this day’ signal a change of mind. The description of 15 May corresponds in its essentials to that of 29 April: the ‘wild’ appearance, the idea of a heath, the water and the feed for animals.

The first name he had decided upon used either the name of the town Hounslow near Hounslow Heath in England or (more probably) the ‘Hounslow’ of ‘Hounslow Heath’ itself. The second name used the ‘Heath’ with an additional descriptor which emphasised the character of the place concerned. Blackheath in England is named for its dark-coloured heath, and the English name could have had some influence, but the sequence of events suggests that Macquarie did not name the Blue Mountains site after its English namesake. The use in his journal of the hyphenated form ‘Black-Heath’ would seem to support this interpretation (unless that form was also used in England).

A third designation became associated with the Blue Mountains site, the full ‘Hounslow Heath’, as noted in the journal of the botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham, in an entry for 10 April 1817:

Continuing our route on the new road which runs on the main edge of the mountains and forms one side of the Prince Regent’s Glen, we arrived at an open but low bushy tract of country, which His Excellency had named Hounslow Heath, although it is frequently termed Blackheath.

Here Hounslow Heath is taken to be the name officially bestowed and Blackheath a popular name. Perhaps ‘Hounslow Heath’ in this usage was to some degree a combination of ‘Hounslow’ and ‘Blackheath’ rather than a straight repetition of the English Hounslow Heath. Or perhaps the English name, being so well known, had a habit of overriding others as the presumed official name.

In issuing a report for a public readership soon after his tour of inspection, Governor Macquarie used the name Blackheath. It was a name that commended itself as being simple, straightforward and appropriate. In the report Blackheath is listed as the third outward stage in the party’s progress over the Blue Mountains, occurring at a distance of 41 miles from the beginning of the journey at Emu Ford.

Memories of the impressive sight of troops on Hounslow Heath in England evidently remained fresh in the minds of some colonists. In a newspaper report of 10 June 1826 we read:

Hyde Park presented an animated appearance on Thursday last. A Review of the Troops of the Garrison took place by His Excellency the Governor, which drew together a large assemblage of the Sydney Fashionables. Some portentous clouds in the morning threatened to mar the expected pleasures of the day, but “at length the prospect clearing,” equestrians and pedestrians began to throng to the ground, and in a short time Hyde Park presented a scene which might have been viewed with pleasure even by those in whose memory Hounslow Heath, or the Phœnix Park yet lived in their brightest colours.

The original area of Hounslow Heath near London is now largely occupied by Heathrow Airport, named after the former hamlet of Heath Row on Hounslow Heath.

Governor Macquarie’s journal: ‘Tour to the New discovered Country in April 1815.’ Journal of Allan Cunningham, 1 March 1817 onwards, on the website of The Allan Cunningham Project. Report of the Governor’s tour: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 10/6/1815, pp. 1-2 (for Blackheath see p. 2). Review of the troops of the Garrison: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 10/6/1826, p. 2.

The loss of a constable

After Governor Macquarie’s tour of inspection across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst in April-May 1815, his report published in the Sydney Gazette of 10 June 1815 reviewed the experiences of the trip and suggested future possibilities for exploiting the potential of the regions beyond the mountains.

One of the peculiarities of the report is the absence of reference to the Aboriginal population. Surely the party had encountered Aborigines, or at least traces of their campsites? Were there reasons to avoid mentioning these encounters? Had something happened which the Governor would prefer not to advertise to inhabitants of the colony whom he might want to encourage to develop the new districts for grazing and agriculture?

The Governor was himself conscious of the omission, as we learn from a Supplement to the Sydney Gazette a month later. The one-page sheet supplementary to the issue of 8 July contains two continuations of earlier travel narratives, the first of Surveyor Evans, adding to the report published in the Sydney Gazette over a year earlier (12 February 1814), and the second of the Governor himself, an addendum to his report of 10 June 1815. After the section which refers to Mr. Evans, the Governor adds:

Before closing the present Account, the Governor desires to observe, that having accidentally omitted some particulars in his own Tour which he had meant to remark on, he avails himself of the present occasion to notice them.

Four paragraphs follow, three dealing with observations of the ‘Natives’ and the fourth describing an impressive ‘Cataract’ which was seen falling nearly 1,000 feet from the King’s Table Land down to the Prince Regent’s Glen and was named ‘The Campbell Cataract’ after one of the four gentlemen who had observed this phenomenon, ‘one of the most stupendous and grand sights that perhaps the world can afford.’

It was perhaps additionally important to include comment on the native population because the account of Mr. Evans’ explorations refers to them; it would surely have seemed a strange contrast if the Governor had maintained a steady silence in this regard in reporting the experiences of his own party.

Furthermore, there was another circumstance which would have been in people’s minds. A week after the Governor’s original report of his tour, the following notice appeared in the Sydney Gazette:

We are sorry to conjecture the more than probable loss of William Green, a constable of Windsor, of long established character as a useful member of the Police.—The day following that of His Excellency the Governor’s departure from Bathurst, he unfortunately left his remaining companions, and went away with some natives towards their encampment, and has not since been heard of; from which we must unwillingly conjecture, that he had lost his way and perished from want, or that he has fallen a victim to his own rashness in venturing among natives with whom we are so little acquainted.

This paragraph disclosed that there had been contact with Aborigines during the tour of inspection. It was an admission not only of the loss of a constable but of a failure to engage successfully with the original inhabitants of the countryside.

Report of the Governor’s tour: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 10/6/1815, pp. 1-2. Addendum to the report: Supplement to the Sydney Gazette 8/7/1815, p. 1. William Green missing: Sydney Gazette 17/6/1815, p. 2.