In an order dated 22 April 1815 and published on that day in the Sydney Gazette, Lachlan Macquarie, ‘Governor and Commander of the Forces,’ formally announced his intention to proceed on a tour of inspection of the newly discovered country to the west of the Blue Mountains, and directed that during his absence the heads of the civil and military departments should submit their returns and reports to Lieutenant Governor Molle. The tour would not last more than a few weeks and anyone wishing to submit an application on public business should wait until the Governor’s return.
On the following Tuesday 25 April, as the Sydney Gazette reported in its edition of Saturday 29th, the Governor, accompanied by Mrs Macquarie, left town to visit the newly discovered plains. The Governor took with him a substantial group of dignitaries: the Secretary (John Thomas Campbell); a Major of Brigade (Captain Antill); the Governor’s aide de camp (Lieutenant Watts); Sir John Jamieson; William Cox; the Surveyor General (John Oxley); the Assistant Surgeon (William Redfern); the Deputy Surveyor General (James Meehan); Deputy Surveyor G.W. Evans; and a painter and naturalist (I.W. Lewin).
In the Sydney Gazette of 10 June 1815, the first item is a lengthy report of that date by the Governor describing his tour and acknowledging the contributions of various people to the opening up of the country. A brief history is given of efforts to cross the Blue Mountains, including mention of the attempts by Mr. Bass and Mr. Caley before the successes of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, George Evans, and finally William Cox who supervised construction of the road.
It was perhaps rather nerve-wracking for Cox to accompany Macquarie on the tour of inspection, knowing that at any point the Governor might be displeased with the methods or quality of the work. But if Macquarie did find anything amiss he does not mention it in this report.
Indeed a notable aspect of the report is the exceptionally fulsome praise of Cox expressed by the Governor. Thus we read that the road was built in six months, ‘without the loss of a man, or any serious accident. The Governor is at a loss to appreciate fully the services rendered by Mr. Cox to this Colony, in the execution of this arduous work, which promises to be of the greatest public utility…’ Given the difficulty of the task and the absence from home and family, ‘it is difficult to express the sentiments of approbation to which such privations and services are entitled.’
It is interesting to observe Macquarie giving credit in this way where credit was due.
Announcement of forthcoming tour: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 22/4/1815, p. 1. The Governor has left town: 29/4/1815, p. 2. Report of the tour: 10/6/1815, pp. 1-2.