(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.