Tag Archives: Springwood

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.

All was noise and confusion

(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.)

One wonders whether Thomas Hawkins got very much sleep at all during those first few days of climbing the Mountains. That night at Springwood, from Sunday into Monday, Elizabeth tells us, ‘Hawkins remained all night on the green’ in front of the house ‘or in the cart, watching.’

Perhaps he could not bear to go inside. Elizabeth had spread mattresses in the store-room, not having the tent with her at the time. The floor was dirty, damp, cold earth, and the children went to bed in their clothes, looking miserable. They were restless, ‘the bugs were crawling by hundreds,’ and when Elizabeth at last lay down with her baby she realised that there would not be much rest that night.

‘Never did I pass a night equal to it,’ she says. The old woman, ‘a most depraved character and well-known thief,’ had stolen some spirit from their provisions, and became tipsy, and the soldiers as well. ‘All was noise and confusion indoors, and without there was swearing and wrangling among the men.’ There was a flock of sheep in the yard, and they kept close to the house, away from the men, ‘and kept up a continual pat with their feet.’

Could any of our romance writers have been in my situation they might have found an interesting scene. You may be certain we were happy when the morning came and, after breakfast, we packed up our beds and bade adieu to the house in Springwood.

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

Weather conditions: Sunday evening 14 April 1822: Springwood, fine. Monday morning 15: Springwood, fine. Letter, Elizabeth Hawkins to sister, 7 May 1822, partially reproduced in 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.

Historical societies in the Blue Mountains

The earliest of the following societies was established in the 1940s, after the Second World War (Blue Mountains HS, 1946). One was established in the 1950s (Springwood HS, 1955), one in the 1960s (Mount Victoria, 1965), one in the 1980s (a family history society: Blue Mountains FHS, 1986), two in the 1990s (Glenbrook, 1992; Mount Wilson, 1995), and two since 2000 (Mid Mountains, 2000; Springwood Historians, 2001).

GLENBROOK:  Glenbrook & District Historical Society. Publications include Nell Aston, Glenbrook and District: A History, Glenbrook, Glenbrook & District Historical Society, 2009.

LAWSON:  Mid Mountains Historical Society (Bullaburra, Lawson, Hazelbrook, Woodford, Linden). The society has a website entitled Mid Mountains History.

MOUNT VICTORIA:  Mount Victoria & District Historical Society. The society’s museum is located in the Mount Victoria Railway Station, Station Street, Mount Victoria.

MOUNT WILSON:  Mount Wilson & Mount Irvine Historical Society. The society runs the Turkish Bath Museum at Mount Wilson. The building was originally constructed as a Turkish bath in the grounds of the home of Richard Wynne, who established a property at Mount Wilson in 1875. Some details are given on websites for Mount Wilson, Tourism New South Wales, and the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

SPRINGWOOD:  Blue Mountains Family History Society. According to the society’s website, the society ‘concentrates on serving the area of the Blue Mountains City Council from the rise from the Cumberland Plain to Mt Victoria and the off shoots of Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine to the north and the Megalong Valley in the south.’ The society’s latest newsletter (12/1/2011) is available online.  Springwood Historians. This is a small group which focuses on public (including family) history, with special reference to the social history of the Springwood district (including Linden, Faulconbridge, Valley Heights and Winmalee). The Springwood Historians have a blog which began in January 2011. Publications include The Making of a Mountain Community: A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District (2002).  Springwood Historical Society. The society’s website includes a brief history of Springwood, and a list of publications by the society. There is a brochure listing historic sites in Springwood.

WENTWORTH FALLS:  Blue Mountains Historical Society. According to the society’s website, the society was established by the Blue Mountains County Council in 1946 but is privately owned.* It has the historic cottage ‘Tarella’, used as a museum, and a modern building for archives and research, the Hobby’s Reach Research Centre, in Blaxland Road.

* 28/11/12. The statement ‘privately owned’ requires amendment. The Blue Mountains Historical Society is an incorporated society. See Comments.

Some bookshops in the Blue Mountains

As a book-lover the Unhurried Traveller finds it hard to walk past a bookshop without going in to spend at least a few minutes browsing. This is a list of some bookshops in the Blue Mountains, to be revised over time:

BLACKHEATH:  Gleebooks, Shop 1, Collier’s Arcade, Govetts Leap Road.

KATOOMBA:  Blue Mountains Books, 66 Katoomba Street.  Chekhov’s Three Sisters Second Hand Books, 84 Bathurst Road.  Katoomba Book Exchange, 34 Katoomba Street (second-hand books).  Mr Pickwick’s Fine Old Books, 86 Katoomba Street.

LEURA:  Megalong Books, 183 The Mall.  [Leura Books is now an online second-hand and out-of-print books distributor based in Mittagong in the Southern Highlands.]

SPRINGWOOD:  Brown Books, Shop 4, 125 Macquarie Road (Macquarie Centre Arcade).  The Turning Page Bookshop, new address: Shop 1, 125 Macquarie Road.