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Title: The Journal of Gregory Blaxland, 1813
Author: Gregory Blaxland (1778-1853)
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0200411.txt
Language:   English
Date first posted: June 2002
Date most recently updated: August 2015

This eBook was produced by: Colin Choat

Production notes: 

Blaxland. The eBook was checked against a copy of the second edition of
that book, which was published in 1870 by SYDNEY GIBBS, SHALLARD AND

The book upon which this eBook is based contains no publishing
history or author. It is held (as at 30 June 2002) by the State Library
of NSW. The printer was S. T. Leigh and Co. It seems that the book
was edited by Mr Frank Walker (1861-1948) to whom a number of the
photos, and the "Route Map", which are included in the book, are
attributed. [See preliminary remark to Australian Discovery by Land,
Chapter 1 by Ernest Scott.]

In the book, editorial notes appeared in the margin, adjacent to
the reference to which the note related. In this eBook the note has
been placed at the end of the paragraph to which it relates. A
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               NEW SOUTH WALES, IN THE YEAR 1813
Author:     Gregory Blaxland (1778-1853)


1.  Summary of daily averages and total distance travelled,
   Nepean to Mount Blaxland.
2.  Government Order. (Details of the trip and commendation).
3.  Extract from a letter written by the late G. B. Barton, 25/7/1889.
4.  Copy of letter written by Frank M. Bladen, 3/3/1904.
5.  Copy of letter written by Dr. Houison., 29/3/1904.


Gregory Blaxland (photograph)
William Charles Wentworth (photograph)
Lieut. William Lawson (photograph)
A view of the steep and rugged Blue Mountains near Katoomba (photograph)
Blaxland's route across the mountains in 1813 (sketch map)
Blue Mountain Scenery--Rodriguez Pass, near Blackheath (photograph)
Obelisk, Mt. York (photograph)
The Lookout, Mt. York--Known as the "Eddy Rock" (photograph)
Blue Mountain Scenery--near Echo Point, Katoomba (photograph)
View of Mt. Blaxland (photograph)
Cairn on summit of Mt. Blaxland (photograph)
"Caley's Repulse" (photograph)
Tree at foot of Mt. Blaxland, marked by the explorers in 1813 (photograph)
Grose Valley (Blackheath), Blue Mountains (photograph)


To John Oxley Parker, ESQ.,
of Chelmsford, Essex. London,
February 10, 1823.

Dear Sir,--Feelings of gratitude for your kind attention to me in
the early part of life, have induced me to dedicate to you the following
short Journal of my passage over the Blue Mountains, in the colony of
New South Wales, under the persuasion that it will afford you pleasure
at all times to hear that any of your family have been instrumental in
promoting the prosperity of any country in which they may reside,
however distant that country may be from the immediate seat of our

Since my return to England many of my friends have expressed a wish
to peruse my Journal. To meet their request in the only practicable or
satisfactory manner, I have consented to its being printed. Devoid as it
is of any higher pretensions than belong to it as a plain unvarnished
statement, it may not be deemed wholly uninteresting, when it is is
considered what important alterations the result of the expedition has
produced in the immediate interests and prosperity of the colony. This
appears in nothing more decidedly than the unlimited pasturage already
afforded to the very fine flocks of merino sheep, as well as the extensive
field opened for the exertions of the present, as well as future
generations. It has changed the aspect of the colony, from a confined
insulated tract of land, to a rich and extensive continent. [Note 1]

[Note 1: Blaxland did not exaggerate when he referred to the "important
alterations" resulting from his expedition, and he cleverly sums up
the matter in his reference to the "changing of the aspect of the colony"
into a "rich and extensive continent."]

This expedition, which has proved so completely successful, resulted from
two previous attempts. One of these was made by water, by His Excellency
the Governor, in person, whom I accompanied. We ascended the River
Hawkesbury, or Nepean, from above Emu Island, to the mouth of the
Warragomby [Note 2], or Great Western River, where it emerges from the
mountains, and joins itself to that river, from its mouth. We proceeded
as far as it was navigable by a small boat, which is only a few miles
further. It was found to lose itself at different places, almost entirely
underneath and between immense blocks of stones, being confined on each
side by perpendicular cliffs of the same kind of stone, which sometimes
rose as high as the tops of the mountains, through which it appears to
have forced, or worn its way, with the assistance, probably, of an
earthquake, or some other great convulsion of nature.

[Note 2: This river is now known as the Warragamba]

The other expedition was undertaken by myself, attended by three
European servants and two natives, with a horse to carry provisions and
other necessaries. We travelled on the left, or south bank of the
western river, and found no impediment, by keeping in the cow pastures,
and crossing the different streams of water before they enter the rocks
and precipices close to the river. We were unable, however, to penetrate
westward, finding ourselves turned eastward towards the coast. We
returned sooner than I intended, owing to one man being taken ill. The
natives proved but of little use, which determined me not to take them
again on my more distant expedition, Very little information can be
obtained from any tribe out of their own district, which is seldom more
than about thirty miles square. This journey confirmed me in the
opinion, that it was practicable to find a passage over the mountains,
and I resolved at some future period to attempt it, by endeavouring to
cross the river, and reach the high land on its northern bank by the
ridge which appeared to run westward, between the Warragomby and the
River Grose. I concluded, that if no more difficulties were found in
travelling than had been experienced on the other side, we must be able
to advance westward towards the interior of the country, and have a fair
chance of passing the mountains. On inquiry, I found a person who had
been accustomed to hunt the kangaroo in the mountains, in the direction
I wished to go; who undertook to take the horses to the top of the first
ridge. Soon after I mentioned the circumstance to His Excellency the
Governor, who thought it reasonable, and expressed a wish that I should
make the attempt. [Note 3] Having made every requisite preparation,
I applied to the two gentlemen who accompanied me, to join in the
expedition, and was fortunate in obtaining their consent. Before we set
out, we laid down the plan to be pursued, and the course to be attempted,
namely, to ascend the ridge before-mentioned, taking the streams of water
on the left, which appeared to empty themselves into the Warragomby, as
our guide; being careful not to cross any of them, but to go round their
sources, so as to be certain of keeping between them and the streams
that emptied themselves into the River Grose.

[Note 3: This is proof positive that Blaxland originated the expedition,
and became the leader, Wentworth and Lawson being associated with him.
The ages of the explorers at this time were: Blaxland 35, Wentworth 19,
Lawson 38. The plan devised was destined to prove successful, and
originated with Blaxland. He had evidently pondered the matter, after his
two previous abortive attempts, and had taken careful notes of the general
appearance of this portion of the country.]

To these gentlemen I have to express my thanks for their company,
and to acknowledge that without their assistance I should have had
but little chance of success.

The road which has since been made deviates but a few rods in some
places from the line cleared of the small trees and bushes and marked
by us. [Note 4] Nor does it appear likely that any other line of road will
ever be discovered than at the difficult and narrow passes that we
were fortunate to discover; by improving which, a good carriage road
has now been made across the mountains. Mount York is the western
summit of the mountains; the Vale Clwyd the first valley at their foot;
from which a mountain (afterwards named Mount Blaxland by His Excellency
Governor Macquarie) is about eight miles, which terminated our journey.

[Note 4: This is interesting, as it shows that Cox's road followed very
closely on Blaxland's tracks, with the single exception of the ascent of
the first range. (This in reference to the road made by William Cox under
Governor Macquarie's direction.) "Mount Blaxland"--This has been
identified as that isolated sugar-loaf on the right bank of the Cox River,
distant about 7 miles S.W. from Mount York. The mountain is very little
changed at the present day (1913), and no doubt presented much the same
appearance to Blaxland. Blaxland is hardly correct in ascribing the naming
of this mountain to Governor Macquarie. The name was bestowed upon it by
G. W. Evans, subsequently confirmed by Governor Macquarie, on arrival at
the terminal point of Blaxland's expedition, which was at Mount Blaxland.
Two other smaller conical shaped hills on the opposite sides of the stream
were named Wentworth and Lawson's Sugar-Loaves respectively, by Evans.]

I remain, dear Sir, most respectfully,
Your affectionate Nephew,


On Tuesday, May 11, 1813, Mr. Gregory Blaxland, Mr. William Went
worth, and Lieutenant Lawson, attended by four servants, with five dogs,
and four horses laden with provisions, ammunition, and other
necessaries, left Mr. Blaxland's farm at the South Creek [Note 5], for
the purpose of endeavouring to effect a passage over the Blue Mountains,
between the Western River, and the River Grose. They crossed the Nepean,
or Hawkesbury River, at the ford, on to Emu Island [Note 6], at four
o'clock p.m., and having proceeded, according to their calculation, two
miles in a south-west direction, through forest land and good pasture,
encamped at five o'clock at the foot of the first ridge. The distance
travelled on this and on the subsequent days was computed by time, the
rate being estimated at about two miles per hour. Thus far they were
accompanied by two other gentlemen. [Note 7]

[Note 5: "Blaxland's Farm" was situated on the left bank of South Creek,
about 3 miles (in 1913) from the present township of St. Marys.
The allotment is shown on an early map of the district published in 1808.]

[Note 6: "Emu Island" does not exist at the present day (1913), but
originally it occupied that semi-circular bend of the river about 1 mile
north from the railway bridge. Here the stream was shallow enough to
permit of an easy crossing. Approaching the river form a northerly
direction (their track from the farm would lie in a north-westerly
direction), they continued on a diagonal course S.W., and so approached
the first range.]

[Note 7: Names not recorded]

On the following morning (May 12), as soon as the heavy dew was off,
which was about nine a.m., they proceeded to ascend
the ridge at the foot of which they had camped the preceding evening.
Here they found a large lagoon of good water, full of very coarse
rushes. [Note 8] The high land of Grose Head [Note 9] appeared before them
at about seven miles distance, bearing north by east. They proceeded this
day about three miles and a quarter, in a direction varying from
south-west to west-north-west; but, for a third of the way, due west. The
land was covered with scrubby brush-wood, very thick in places, with some
trees of ordinary timber, which much incommoded the horses. The greater
part of the way they had deep rocky gullies on each side of their track,
and the ridge they followed was very crooked and intricate. [Note 10] In
the evening they encamped at the head of a deep gully, which they had to
descend for water; they found but just enough for the night, contained in
a hole in the rock, near which they met with a kangaroo, who had just been
killed by an eagle. A small patch of grass supplied the horses for
the night.

[Note 8: The "lagoon" mentioned is (in 1913) a body of fresh water lying
between Glenbrook station and the preset road.]

[Note 9: The bearing given of Grose Head (viz. about 7 miles N. by E.),
evidently from a position near the lagoon, can be checked at the present
day (1913), and a portion of Blaxland's track thus identified.]

[Note 10: These are the general characteristics of the country in this
locality at the present day (1913).]

They found it impossible to travel through the brush before the dew was
off, and could not, therefore, proceed at an earlier hour in the morning
than nine. After travelling about a mile on the third day, in a west and
north-west direction, they arrived at a large tract of forest land,
rather hilly, the grass and timber tolerably good, extending, as they
imagine, nearly to Grose Head, in the same direction nearly as the
river. They computed it at two thousand acres. Here they found a track
marked by a European, [Note 11] by cutting the bark of the trees. Several
native huts presented themselves at different places. They had not
proceeded above two miles, when they found themselves stopped by a
brushwood much thicker than they had hitherto met with. This induced them
to alter their course, and to endeavour to find another passage to the
westward; but every ridge which they explored proved to terminate in a
deep rocky precipice; and they had no alternative but to return to the
thick brushwood, which appeared to be the main ridge, with the
determination to cut a way through for the horses next day. This day some
of the horses, while standing, fell several times under their loads. The
dogs killed a large kangaroo. The party encamped in the forest tract, with
plenty of good grass and water.

[Note 11: Who was this "European?" Possibly Dawes, Hacking, or Wilson,
although it is mere supposition, as there is no definite record to
go upon.]

On the next morning, leaving two men to
take care of the horses and provisions, they proceeded to cut a path
through the thick brushwood, on what they considered as the main ridge
of the mountain, between the Western River and the River Grose; keeping
the heads of the gullies, which were supposed to empty themselves into
the Western River on their left hand, and into the River Grose on their
right. As they ascended the mountain these gullies became much deeper
and more rocky on each side. They now began to mark their track by
cutting the bark of the trees on two sides. [Note 12] Having cut their way
for about five miles, they returned in the evening to the spot on which
they had encamped the night before. The fifth day was spent in prosecuting
the same tedious operation; [Note 13] but, as much time was necessarily
lost in walking twice over the track cleared the day before, they were
unable to cut away more than two miles further. They found no food for the
horses the whole way. An emu was heard on the other side of the gully,
calling continually in the night.

[Note 12: This was the commencement of the "blazed track", which method
was continued to the termination of their tour at Mount Blaxland.
From this point on the return journey great difficulty was experienced
in finding their way back to the river.]

[Note 13: This additional fatigue told severely on the party.]

On Sunday they rested, and arranged their future plan. They had reason,
however, to regret this suspension of their proceedings, as it gave the
men leisure to ruminate on their danger; and it was for some time doubtful
whether, on the next day, they could be persuaded to venture farther.
[Note 14] The dogs this day killed two small kangaroos. They barked and
ran off continually during the whole night; and at day-light, a most
tremendous howling of native dogs was heard, who appeared to have been
watching them during the night.

[Note 14: This would imply that mutiny was abroad, but evidently the
counsels of the leader were listened to, and the trouble was overcome.]

On Monday, the 17th, having laden the horses with as much grass as could
be put on them, in addition to their other burdens, they moved forward
along the path which they had cleared and marked, about six miles and a
half. The bearing of the route they had been obliged to keep along the
ridge, varied exceedingly; it ran sometimes in a north-north-western
direction--sometimes south-east, or due south, but generally south-west,
or south-south-west. [Note 15] They encamped in the afternoon between two
very deep gulleys, on a narrow bridge, Grose Head bearing north-east by
north; and Mount Banks north-west by west. They had to fetch water up
the side of the precipice, about six hundred feet high, and could get
scarcely enough for the party. [Note 16] The horses had none this night;
they performed their journey well, not having to stand under their loads.

[Note 15: This is where the difficulty of endeavouring to plot the route
of the explorers correctly is encountered. The varied directions as given,
imply that some insurmountable obstacles presented themselves all through
the journey on this day.]

[Note 16: This description tallies with the nature of the country between
Faulconbridge and Linden. The bearings of Grose Head and Mount Banks (now
King George--1913) would be about correct from this neighbourhood.]

The following day was spent in cutting a passage through the brushwood,
for a mile and a half further. They returned to their camp at five
o'clock, very much tired and dispirited. The ridge, which was not more
than fifteen or twenty yards over, with deep precipices on each side, was
rendered almost impassable by a perpendicular mass of rock, nearly
thirty feet high, extending across the whole breadth, with the exception
of a small broken rugged track in the centre. By removing a few large
stones, they were enabled to pass. [Note 17]

[Note 17: This ridge may be easily identified as that near Linden station,
now (1913) carrying the present road. Its width tallies with that
described by Blaxland, and there are deep precipices on either side.
The mass of rock still (1913) exists to the east of Linden station. The
old Bathurst road will be found on the top. The northern end of the ridge
has been cut away to allow of the passage of the present road
and railway.]

On Wednesday, the 19th, the party moved forward along this path; bearing
chiefly west, and west-south-east. They now began to ascend the second
ridge [Note 18] of the mountains, and from this elevation they obtained
for the first time an extensive view of the settlements below. Mount Banks
bore north-west; Grose Head, north-east; Prospect Hill, east by south;
the Seven Hills, east-north-east; Windsor, northeast by east. At a little
distance from the spot at which they began the ascent, they found a
pyramidical heap of stones [Note 19], the work, evidently, of some
European, one side of which the natives had opened, probably in the
expectation of finding some treasure deposited in it. This pile they
concluded to be the one erected by Mr. Bass, to mark the end of his
journey. [Note 20] That gentleman attempted, some time ago, to pass the
mountains, and to penetrate into the interior; but having got thus far,
he gave up the undertaking as impracticable; reporting, on his return,
that it was impossible to find a passage even for a person on foot. Here,
therefore, the party had the satisfaction of believing that they had
penetrated as far as any European had been before them.

[Note 18: This ridge is the one beyond Linden station running N. and S.
From a rocky eminence, the bearings given in the text, will be found to
agree exactly.]

[Note 19: Long known (but erroneously called) as "Cayley's Repulse." This
memorial, or what remains of it (1913) was located on Sept. 6, 1912, by
a party of members of the Aust. Historical Society.]

[Note 20: A mistaken impression, as Bass never reached this portion of the
Mountains, judging by his route map and description of the country.
The cairn was more probably erected by Hacking or Wilson.]

They encamped this day to refresh their horses, at the head of a swamp
covered with a coarse rushy grass, with a small run of good water through
the middle of it. [Note 21] In the afternoon, they left their camp to mark
and cut a road for the next day.

[Note 21: This swamp is situated (1913) at the foot of the ridge beyond
Linden station, referred to in Note 18.]

They proceeded with the horses on the 20th nearly five miles, and encamped
at noon at the head of a swamp about three acres in extent, covered with
the same coarse rushy grass as the last station, with a stream of water
running through it. [Note 22] The horses were obliged to feed on the swamp
grass, as nothing better could be found for them. The travellers left the
camp as before, in the afternoon, to cut a road for the morrow's journey.
The ridge along which their course lay now became wider and more rocky,
but was still covered with brush and small crooked timber, except at the
heads of the different streams of water which ran down the side of the
mountain, where the land was swampy and clear of trees. The track of
scarcely any animal was to be seen, and very few birds. One man was here
taken dangerously ill with a cold. Bearing of the route at first,
south-westerly; afterwards north-north-west, and west-north-west.

[Note 22: Situated about midway between Hazelbrook and Lawson, probably
the source of Hazelbrook Creek.]

Their progress the next day was nearly four miles, in a direction still
varying from north-west-by-north to south-west. They encamped in the
middle of the day at the head of a well-watered swamp, about five acres
in extent; pursuing, as before, their operations in the afternoon.
[Note 23] In the beginning of the night the dogs ran off and barked
violently. At the same time something was distinctly heard to run through
the brushwood, which they supposed to be one of the horses got loose; but
they had reason to believe afterwards that they had been in great
danger--that the natives had followed their track, and advanced on them in
the night, intending to have speared them by the light of their fire, but
that the dogs drove them off. [Note 24]

[Note 23: Situated in the neighbourhood of Wentworth Falls.]

[Note 24: This was the narrowest escape of annihilation the party
experienced, being the only time they were really exposed to danger from
the attacks of natives.]

On Saturday, the 22nd instant, they proceeded in the track marked the
preceding day rather more than three miles, in a south-westerly
direction, when they reached the summit of the third and highest
ridge of the mountains southward of Mount Banks. [Note 25] From the
bearing of Prospect Hill and Grose Head, they computed this spot to be
eighteen miles in a straight line from the River Nepean [Note 26], at
the point at which they crossed it. On the top of this ridge they found
about two thousand acres of land clear of trees, covered with loose stones
and short coarse grass, such as grows on some of the commons in England.
Over this heath they proceeded for about a mile and a half, in a
south-westerly direction, and encamped by the side of a fine stream of
water, with just wood enough on the banks to serve for firewood. From
the summit they had a fine view of all the settlements and country
eastward, and of a great extent of country to the westward and
south-west. But their progress in both the latter directions was stopped
by an impassable barrier of rock, which appeared to divide the interior
from the coast as with a stone wall, rising perpendicularly out of the
side of the mountain. [Note 27]

[Note 25: The high ridge beyond Wentworth Falls. As a proof that this is
the locality indicated, the spot is due south from Mt. King George
(originally named Mt. Banks).]

[Note 26: A straight line drawn due west from the Nepean would measure
exactly 18 miles, showing how remarkably accurate Blaxland was on his

[Note 27: They were by now evidently on the edge of some part of the
precipice overlooking the Kanimbla Valley, between Leura and Katoomba.]

In the afternoon they left their little camp in the charge of three
of the men, and made an attempt to descend the precipice by following
some of the streams of water, or by getting down at some of the
projecting points where the rocks had fallen in; but they were
baffled in every instance. In some places the perpendicular height
of the rocks above the earth below could not be less than four hundred
feet. Could they have accomplished a descent, they hoped to procure
mineral specimens which might throw light on the geological character of
the country, as the strata appeared to be exposed for many hundred feet,
from the top of the rock to the beds of the several rivers beneath. The
broken rocky country on the western side of the cow pasture has the
appearance of having acquired its present form from an earthquake, or
some other dreadful convulsion of nature, at a much later period than
the mountains northward, of which Mount Banks forms the southern
extremity. The aspect of the country which lay beneath them much
disappointed the travellers: it appeared to consist of sand and small
scrubby brushwood, intersected with broken rocky mountains, with streams
of water running between them to the eastward, towards one point, where
they probably form the Western River, and enter the mountains.

They now flattered themselves that they had surmounted half the
difficulties of their undertaking, expecting to find a passage down the
mountain more to the northward. [Note 28]

[Note 28: The fact that the party resolved to bear more to the north, in
their endeavours to find a passage down to the lower lands, is responsible
for the accidental arrival on the high tongue of land, now known as
Mt. York. It would have been quite probable, otherwise, that they would
have attempted the descent of the range in the vicinity of Mt. Victoria
pass, where the lay of the country would have presented less difficulty,
as regards the descent, than Mt. York. This discovery, however, came
afterwards, when a more practicable route was discovered, and the opening
of the Victoria Pass in 1832 sealed the fate of the old Bathurst road in
its descent of Mt. York.]

On the next day they proceeded about three miles and a half; but the
trouble occasioned by the horses when they got off the open land
induced them to recur to their former plan of devoting the afternoon
to marking and clearing a tract for the ensuing day, as the most
expeditious method of proceeding, notwithstanding that they had to
go twice over the same ground. The bearing of their course this day was,
at first, north-east and north, and then changed to north-west and
north-north-west. They encamped on the side of a swamp, with a beautiful
stream of water running through it.

Their progress on the next day was four miles and a-half, in a direction
varying from north-north-west to south-south-west: they encamped,
as before, at the head of a swamp. [Note 29] This day, between ten and
eleven a.m., they obtained a sight of the country below, when the clouds
ascended. [Note 30] As they were marking a road for the morrow, they heard
a native chopping wood very near them, who fled at the approach
of the dogs.

[Note 29: Between Medlow Bath and Blackheath. The swamp is still
in existence (1913).]

[Note 30: By "clouds" Blaxland evidently meant to imply the rising mists
from the valley, as they were still coasting along the edge of the

On Tuesday, the 25th, they could proceed only three miles and a-half
in a varying direction, encamping at two o'clock at the side of a
swamp. The underwood being very prickly and full of small thorns,
annoyed them very much. This day they saw the track of the wombat
(an animal which burrows in the ground as a badger, and lives on
grass) for the first time. On the 26th they proceeded two miles and
three-quarters. The brush still continued to be very thorny. The land to
the westward appeared sandy and barren. This day they saw the fires
of some natives below; the number they computed at about thirty--men,
women, and children. They noticed also more tracks of the wombat.
On the 27th they proceeded five miles and a quarter--part of the
way over another piece of clear land, without trees [Note 31]; they saw
more native fires, and about the same number as before, but more in their
direct course. From the top of the rocks they saw a large piece of land
below, clear of trees, but apparently a poor reedy swamp. They met with
some good timber in this day's route. [Note 32]

[Note 31: This would answer to the description of the country around
Blackheath (in 1913), as they would now be in this locality.]

[Note 32: This view of the lower lying country would be obtained from
a spot in the neighbourhood of Mt. Victoria.]

The bearing of the route for the last three days has been chiefly north
and north-west.

On the 28th they proceeded about five miles and three-quarters. Not being
able to find water, they did not halt till five o'clock, when they took
up their station on the edge of the precipice. [Note 33] To their great
satisfaction, they discovered that what they had supposed to be sandy
barren land below the mountain, was forest land, covered with good grass
and with timber of an inferior quality. In the evening they contrived to
get their horses down the mountain by cutting a small trench with a hoe,
which kept them from slipping, where they again tasted fresh grass for
the first time since they left the forest land on the other side of the
mountain. They were getting into miserable condition. Water was found
about two miles below the foot of the mountain. [Note 34] The second camp
of natives moved before them about three miles. In this day's route
little timber was observed fit for building.

[Note 33: The termination of this day's journey brought them out to the
edge of Mt. York. It is quite possible that on observing the low-lying
lands beneath him, Blaxland conceived that he had at length reached the
termination of the main range, and then decided to push on some distance
further, where from one or other of the elevations beyond he would
be able to obtain some idea of the country to the westward.]

[Note 34: "The Lett River", which was crossed next day. (Named by Evans,
and recorded in his journal as the "Riverlett", meaning the Rivulet. Hence
the present name of this stream.)]

On the 29th, having got up the horses and laden them, they began to
descend the mountain (Mt. York) [Note 35] at seven o'clock through a pass
in the rock, about thirty feet wide, which they had discovered the day
before, when the want of water put them on the alert. [Note 36] Part of
the descent was so steep that the horses could but just keep their footing
without a load, so that, for some way, the party were obliged to carry the
packages themselves. A cart road might, however, easily be made by cutting
a slanting trench along the side of the mountain, which is here covered
with earth. This pass is, according to their computation, about twenty
miles north-west, in a straight line from the point at which they
ascended the summit of the mountains. [Note 37] They reached the foot at
nine o'clock a.m., and proceeded two miles north-north-west, mostly
through open meadow land, clear of trees, the grass from two to three feet
high. They encamped on the bank of a fine stream of water. [Note 38] The
natives, as observed by the smoke of their fires, moved before them as
yesterday. The dogs killed a kangaroo, which was very acceptable, as the
party had lived on salt meat since they caught the last. The timber seen
this day appeared rotten and unfit for building.

[Note 35: The party evidently returned to the summit of the mountain,
where the camp of the evening of May 28 was formed.]

[Note 36: The first Bathurst road, which passed over Mt. York, was formed
along this pass, and traces of the work are still (1912) distinctly

[Note 37: Blaxland is somewhat out in his calculation, as a straight line
drawn from the summit of the first range, above the Nepean, running
N.W., would measure nearer 30 miles--not 20--as stated.]

[Note 38: This would bring them to the Lett River at a spot about 1/2 mile
south-east of the Hartley Vale road (in 1912)]

Sunday, the 30th, they rested in their encampment. One of the party shot
a kangaroo with his rifle, at a great distance across a wide valley.
The climate here was found very much colder than that of the mountain or
of the settlements on the east side, where no signs of frost had made its
appearance when the party set out. During the night the ground was
covered with a thick frost, and a leg of the kangaroo was quite frozen.
From the dead and brown appearance of the grass it was evident that the
weather had been severe for some time past. We were all much surprised
at this degree of cold and frost in the latitude of about 34 degrees.
The track of the emu was noticed at several places near the camp.

On the Monday they proceeded about six miles, south-west and west, through
forest land, remarkably well watered, and several open meadows, clear of
trees, and covered with high good grass. They crossed two fine streams
of water. [Note 39] Traces of the natives presented themselves in the
fires they had left the day before, and in the flowers of the honeysuckle
tree scattered around, which had supplied them with food. These flowers,
which are shaped like a bottle-brush, are very full of honey. The natives
on this side of the mountains appear to have no huts like those on the
eastern side, nor do they strip the bark or climb the trees. From the
shavings and pieces of sharp stones which they had left, it was evident
that they had been busily employed in sharpening their spears.

[Note 39: First, the Lett River, lower down its course, and then the Cox
River, probably near the junction of the two streams, as the old Bathurst
road crossed the latter stream near the junction.]

The party encamped by the side of a fine stream of water, at a short
distance from a high hill, in the shape of a sugar-loaf. [Note 40] In the
afternoon they ascended its summit, from whence they descried all around,
forest or grass land, sufficient in extent in their opinion, to support
the stock of the colony for the next thirty years. This was the extreme
point of their journey. The distance they had travelled they computed at
about fifty-eight miles nearly north-west; that is, fifty miles through
the mountain, (the greater part of which they had walked over three
times,) and eight miles through the forest land beyond it, reckoning the
descent of the mountain to be half-a mile to the foot.

[Note 40: Probably Lowther Creek, a tributary of the Cox River.
The "sugar-loaf" hill is Mt. Blaxland (named by Evans), and rises above
the stream. Two other conical-shaped hills in the near vicinity were also
named by Evans, Wentworth and Lawson's Sugar-loaves. (The write climbed
this hill Nov., 1912, and probably stood on the very spot where Blaxland
and his party took up their positions, and from where a magnificent
prospect, embracing all points of the compass, is obtainable.)]

The timber observed this day still appeared unfit for building. The stones
at the bottom of the rivers appeared very fine, large-grained, dark
coloured granite, of a kind quite different from the mountain rocks, or
from any stones which they had ever seen in the colony. [Note 41]
Mr. Blaxland and one of the men nearly lost the party to-day by going
too far in the pursuit of a kangaroo.

[Note 41: This is exactly the appearance the river bed presents
today (1913), strewn with large water-worn boulders of dark-coloured

They now conceived [Note 42] that they had sufficiently accomplished the
design of their undertaking, having surmounted all the difficulties which
had hitherto prevented the interior of the country from being explored,
and the colony from being extended. They had partly cleared, or, at least,
marked out, a road by which the passage of the mountain might easily be
effected. Their provisions were nearly expended, their clothes and shoes
were in very bad condition, and the whole party were ill with bowel
complaints. These considerations determined them therefore, to return
home by the track they came. On Tuesday, the 1st of June, they arrived
at the foot of the mountain which they had descended, where they
encamped for the night. The following day they began to ascend the
mountain at seven o'clock, and reached the summit at ten; they were
obliged to carry the packages themselves part of the ascent. They
encamped in the evening at one of their old stations. One of the men had
left his great coat on the top of the rock, where they reloaded the
horses, which was found by the next party who traversed the mountain
[Mt. York]. On the 3rd they reached another of their old stations.
Here, during the night, they heard a confused noise arising from the
eastern settlements below [Note 43], which, after having been so long
accustomed to the death-like stillness of the interior, had a very
striking effect. On the 4th they arrived at the end of their marked track,
and encamped in the forest land where they had cut the grass for their
horses. One of the horses fell this day with his load, quite exhausted,
and was with difficulty got on, after having his load put on the other
horses. The next day, the 5th, was the most unpleasant and fatiguing they
had experienced. The track not being marked, they had great difficulty in
finding their way back to the river, which they did not reach till four
o'clock p.m. [Note 44] They then once more encamped for the night to
refresh themselves and the horses. They had no provisions now left except
a little flour, but procured some from the settlement on the other side of
the river. [Note 45] On Sunday, the 6th of June, they crossed the river
after breakfast, and reached their homes, all in good health. The winter
had not set in on this side of the mountain, nor had there been any frost.

[Note 42: On viewing the wide extent of mountainous country to the west,
which still had to be passed over, Blaxland in view of the physical
condition of the party, and recognising the value of the work already
accomplished, decided to return to the settlement, as it was hopeless to
proceed further. No doubt his disappointment was keen, when the prospect
from the summit of Mt. Blaxland was revealed to him. He possibly
anticipated finding a level stretch of country behind the range which
shut them in after leaving Mt. York, but was soon undeceived. Under the
circumstances Blaxland's decision was a wise one, and even if he and his
party did not complete the entire passage of the Mountains, they, and they
alone, are deserving of the honour which will ever be theirs of finding
a practical passage across the main portion of this hitherto
insurmountable barrier.]

[Note 43: It is difficult to say what this noise was really occasioned by.
It could not have come from the settlements below the Mountains, as
surmised by Blaxland, as was more probably some underground disturbance.
A curious coincidence is afforded in Bass's journal, where at one period
of his journey he recorded the fact that at a particular spot "he heard
the surges roll," as he expressed it. This was, of course, an utter
impossibility, and the origin of the noise was probably the same as that
heard by Blaxland.]

[Note 44: From this point homewards there were no marks on the trees
to guide them.]

[Note 45: In view of the statement concerning the provisions, it appears
that the river was crossed twice by at least one member of the party,
probably by swimming.]


1. Summary of daily averages and total distance travelled,
   Nepean to Mount Blaxland.

Day.   Date.   Distance Travelled.   Bearing.              Remarks
1     May 11           2             S.W. to W. N. W.
2         12           3 3/4         S.W. to W.N.W.
3         13           3             W.N.W.
4         14           5             No record.
5         15           2             No record.
6         16          --             --                    Sunday.
7         17           1 1/2         W.N.W., S. E.
8         18           1 1/2         W. and S.W.
9         19           1/2           W. and S.W.
10        20           5             S.W., then W.N.W.
11        21           4             N.W. by N. to S.W.
12        22           4 3/4         S.W.
13        23           3 1/2         N.E. and N.N.W.       Sunday.
14        24           4 1/2         N.N.W. to S.S.W.
15        25           3 1/2         N. and N.W.
16        26           2 3/4         N. and N.W.
17        27           5 1/4         N. and N.W.
18        28           5 3/4         No record.            Probably N.W.
19        29           2             N.N.W.
20        30           --            --                    Sunday.
21        31           6             S.W. and W.
          21 Days      66 1/4 Miles   Average direction, N. West.


SYDNEY, FEB. 12, 1814.

It having been long deemed an object of great importance, by His
Excellency the Governor, to ascertain what resources this colony might
possess in the interior, beyond its present known and circumscribed
limits, with a view to meet the necessary demands of its rapidly
increasing population; and the great importance of the discovery of
new tracks of good soil, being much enhanced by the consideration
of the long-continued droughts of the present season, so injurious
in their effects to every class of the community in the colony: His
Excellency was pleased, some time since, to equip a party of men,
under the direction of Mr. George W. Evans, one of the Assistant
Land Surveyors, (in whose zeal and abilities for such an undertaking
he had well-founded reason to confide,) and to furnish him with written
instructions for his guidance, in endeavouring to discover a passage over
the Blue Mountains, and ascertaining the qualities and general properties
of the soil he should meet with to the westward of them.

This object having been happily effected, and Mr. Evans returned
with his entire party, all in good health: the Governor is pleased to
direct that the following summary of his tour of discovery, extracted
from his own journal, shall be published for general information:--

"Mr. Evans, attended by five men, selected for their general knowledge of
the country, and habituated to such difficulties as might be expected to
occur, was supplied with horses, arms, and ammunition, and a plentiful
store of provisions for a two months' tour. His instructions were, that
he should commence the ascent of the Blue Mountains, from the extremity
of the present known country at Emu Island, distant about thirty-six
miles from Sydney, and thence proceed in as nearly a west direction as
the nature of the country he had to explore would admit, and to continue
his journey as far as his means would enable him."

On Saturday, the 20th of November last, the party proceeded from
Emu Island; and on the fifth day, having then effected their passage
over the Blue Mountains, arrived at the commencement of a valley
on the western side of them, having passed over several tracks of
tolerably good soil, but also over much rugged and very difficult
mountain: proceeding through this valley, which Mr. Evans describes
as beautiful and fertile, with a rapid stream running through it, he
arrived at the termination of the tour lately made by Messrs. G. Blaxland,
W. C. Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson. Continuing in the Western
direction, prescribed in his instructions, for the course of twenty-one
days from this station, Mr. Evans then found it necessary to return;
and on the 8th of January he arrived back at Emu Island, after an
excursion of seven complete weeks. During the course of this tour
Mr. Evans passed over several plains of great extent, interspersed
with hills and valleys, abounding in the richest soil, and with
various streams of water and chains of ponds. The country he traversed
measured ninety-eight miles and a half beyond the termination of
Messrs. Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson's tour, and not less than one
hundred and fifty miles from Emu Island. The greater part of these
plains are described as being nearly free of timber and brushwood, and
in capacity equal (in Mr. Evans's opinion) to every demand which this
colony may have for an extension of tillage and pasture lands for a
century to come. The stream already mentioned continues its course in a
westerly direction, and for several miles, passing through the valleys,
with many and great accessions of other streams becomes a capacious and
beautiful river, abounding in fish of very large size and fine flavour,
many of which weighed not less than fifteen pounds. This river is
supposed to empty itself into the ocean, on the western side of New South
Wales, at a distance of from two to three hundred miles from the
termination of the tour. From the summits of some very high hills,
Mr. Evans saw a vast extent of flat country, lying in a westerly
direction, which appeared to be bounded at a distance of about forty miles
by other hills. The general description of these hitherto unexplored
regions, given by Mr. Evans, is, that they very far surpass, in beauty
and fertility of soil, any he has seen in New South Wales or
Van Diemen's Land.

In consideration of the importance of these discoveries, and
calculating upon the effect they may have on the future prosperity of
this colony, His Excellency the Governor is pleased to announce his
intention of presenting Mr. Evans with a grant of one thousand acres of
land in Van Diemen's Land, where he is to be stationed as Deputy
Surveyor; and, further, to make him a pecuniary reward from the Colonial
Funds, in acknowledgment of his diligent and active services on this

His Excellency also means to make a pecuniary reward to the
two free men who accompanied Mr. Evans, and a grant of land to each of
them. To the three convicts who also assisted in this excursion the
Governor means to grant conditional pardons, and a small portion of land
to each of them, these men having performed the services required of
them entirely to the satisfaction of Mr. Evans.

The Governor is happy to embrace this opportunity of conveying his
acknowledgments to Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth, Esqs.,
and Lieutenant William Lawson, of the Royal Veteran Company, for their
enterprising and arduous exertions on the the tour of discovery which
they voluntarily performed in the month of May last, when they effected
a passage over the Blue Mountains, and proceeded to the extremity of
the first valley, particularly alluded to in Mr. Evans's Tour, and
being the first Europeans who had accomplished the passage over the
Blue Mountains. The Governor, desirous to confer on these gentlemen
substantial marks of his sense of their meritorious exertions on this
occasion, means to present each of them with a grant of one thousand
acres of land in this newly discovered country.

By command of His Excellency the Governor.

3.  Extract from a letter written by the late G. B. Barton, 25/7/1889,
    to Mr. Charles R. Blaxland, of Wollun, a grandson of the explorer.

I am well aware of the facts to which you allude; and so far as I am
concerned I was never under the impression that Wentworth was entitled to
the credit of having led the party over the Blue Mountains. He never
claimed it himself.

I have read his MS. account of the journey, and also Lieut. Lawson's,
but I have not seen Blaxland's. If you can spare me the printed copy
you refer to I will take care of it.

4.  Copy of letter written by Frank M. Bladen, Editor "Historical Records
    of N.S.W.," 3/3/1904, to Mr. Charles R. Blaxland, of Wollun,
    a grandson of the explorer.

I have read your letter printed in the "Lithgow Mercury" of the
11th September, 1903, and bearing on the discovery of a pass over the
Blue Mountains in May, 1813.

I have before me the journals of each of the three men (Gregory Blaxland,
William Lawson, and William Charles Wentworth), who, with four servants,
formed the expedition; so far as these records go, they serve to prove
that Gregory Blaxland was the leader of the party; and I do not know of
any evidence written or traditional which disputes his claim. There is
certainly no reliable evidence which points to Wentworth as being the
leader, nor did he ever claim to have been so.

5.  Copy of letter written by Dr. Houison, late President, Australian
Historical Society, 29/3/1904, to Mr. Charles R. Blaxland, of Wollun,
a grandson of the explorer.

I have perused with much interest the papers you left with me, but more
especially the diary of Gregory Blaxland. Before all these, however,
I would place the evidence of William Charles Wentworth himself as to
the question of the leadership of the expedition of 1813. In his
"Statistical Account of the Settlement in Australia," 3rd edition (1824),
page 171, he states: "Of the latter route into the Transalpine country,
Governor Macquarie has left happily on record a more accurate as well as
authentic description in a general order published by him upon his 
return from his first visit to that country, than any I could give from
mere memory at this lapse of time. . . . It strikes me that I cannot do
better than insert it verbatim." Then follows the General Order, dated
Government House, Sydney, June 10th, 1815 from which i make the following

Page 177. "Three miles westward of the Vale of Clwyd, Messrs. Blaxland,
Wentworth, and Lawson had formerly terminated their excursion," and again
on the same page, "In commemoration of their merits, three beautiful high
hills, joining each other at the end of their tour at this place, have
received their names in the following order, viz., Mount Blaxland,
Wentworth's sugar-loaf, and Lawson's sugar-loaf."

I think this speaks so conclusively that further comment appears
to be unnecessary.


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