a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
|BROWSE the site for other works by this author
(and our other authors)
SEARCH the entire site with Google Site Search
Project Gutenberg Australia
Title: Memoirs of William Cox, J.P.
Author: William Cox
eBook No.: 0400191h.html
Date first posted: January 2004
Most recent update: November 2022
This eBook was produced by: Colin Choat
View our licence and header
[Page images at National Library of Australia]
1. Windsor Church
2. Wimbourne Minster
3. The Transport "Minerva"
4. The Perils of the Deep
5. Brush Farm
6. Farming in New South Wales
7. The Cowpastures
8. The Blue Mountains
9. The Mountain Road
10. The Reward of Labor
11. Over the Ranges
12. Australian Development
13. Family History
14. The Old Families
Portrait of William Cox, 1830
Drawing of William Cox, J.P.
St Matthew's Church, Windsor
The Old Home at Wimbourne
Page from Cox's Journal
William Cox was responsible for the making of the road over the Blue Mountains in 1814, not long after the first successful crossing by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth.
Cox's memoirs were not written by him and, in the Introduction to the 1979 facsimile edition, Edna Hickson, great-great grand daughter of William Cox, states that it is likely that a granson of Cox was responsible for the publication, if not the author. Hickson goes on to say that:
"The diary written in Chapter 9 has been transcribed from Cox's original journal, now in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. This is the most interesting section of the Memoir, and is the only part written by William Cox himself. Some parts of the old road can still be found, and it is possible to walk down the dreaded descent from Mount York into the Hartley Valley."
The Australian Dictionary of Biography, by Percival Serle, has this entry:
"COX, WILLIAM (1764-1837), pioneer, son of Robert Cox, was born at Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England, on 19 December 1764. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School at Wimborne Minster, and afterwards went to live at Devizes. He was a landowner, served in the Wilts militia, and in July 1795 joined the regular army as an ensign. He became a lieutenant in February 1797, and in September 1798 was appointed paymaster at Cork. He was given the same position when he joined the New South Wales Corps and sailed for Sydney on 24 August 1799 on the transport Minerva, on which were about 160 convicts including General Holt (q.v.) and the Rev. H. Fulton (q.v.), both of whom, and indeed many of the other convicts, were really political prisoners. Cox used his influence so that the prisoners were frequently allowed up on deck to get fresh air, and Holt in his memoirs states that in consequence 'the ship was the healthiest and best regulated which had ever reached the colony'. It arrived in Sydney harbour on 11 January 1800. Almost immediately Cox bought a farm of 100 acres and installed Holt as its manager. Gradually considerable amounts of land were added, but Cox had incurred large liabilities and in 1803 his estate was placed in the hands of trustees. He had much money owing to him and though Cox believed that his assets were worth considerably more than the amount of his liabilities, his accounts as paymaster were involved, and he was suspended from office. In 1807 he was ordered to go to England. He evidently succeeded in clearing himself as he was promoted captain in 1808 (Aust. Ency.), in 1811 was again in New South Wales and principal magistrate at the Hawkesbury.
"On 14 July 1814 Cox received a letter from Governor Macquarie accepting his voluntary offer to superintend the making of a road across the blue mountains from a ford on the river Nepean, Emu Plains, to a 'centrical part of Bathurst Plains'. He was given 30 labourers and a guard of eight soldiers. Work was begun on 18 July 1814 and it was finished on 14 January 1815. In April Macquarie drove his carriage across it from Sydney to Bathurst. It was not metalled, being merely a dirt track 12 feet wide, but it was nevertheless an amazing feat to have grubbed the trees, filled in holes, levelled the track, and built bridges in so short a time. There is no difficulty in believing the governor's statement that if it had been done under a contract it would have taken three years. The length of the road was 101½ miles and settlement of the land beyond the mountains began almost at once. Cox himself established a station near the junction of the Cudgegong and Macquarie rivers. He was now in prosperous circumstances and remained so until his death at Windsor on 15 March 1837. He married (1) Rebecca Upjohn and (2) Anna Blackford. There were five sons by the first marriage and three sons and a daughter by the second.
"Cox was a man of great kindliness and fine character. Holt, who had worked for him, could never speak too well of him. Only a man of real ability with a genius for managing men could have built the track across the mountains in so short a time, and it would be difficult to find an equally remarkable feat in the early history of Australia."
In the days that are yet to be, the old brick church at Windsor, N.S.W., will be the object of the pious pilgrimage of multitudes. St. Matthew's was erected by Governor Macquarie, and the massive brick walls bear testimony to the building class of that date and the price of labour. It stands on the edge of the tableland that overlooks the valley of the Hawkesbury River, where the first real fight with Nature was made by the early settlers a century ago. The river looks like a thread of molten metal glittering in the sun, wending its devious way to the sea, giving but little suggestion of its savage might in the days of flood.
Inside the little church are low-backed, modern pews, marks of Windsor progress, but the flat ceiling and the whited walls speak of earlier days. Most of the windows have small panes, but there are six stained glass memorial windows which tell of love and loss. Here is one to the Rev. Henry Tarlton Stiles, M.A., who died in 1867. Another is to John Terry, Box Hill, who passed beyond the flood in 1842. Another is in memory of Edwin Rouse, who died in 1862; and another is to the memory of the wife of Anthony Hordern, who died in Genoa, Italy, in 1872. We think of the Horderns as Sydney people, but once in a day Miss Towns was the belle of the Windsor district, and Anthony Hordern was the fortunate man who carried her off, and the end is—a memorial window, for,—
"Life's way is the wind's way; all these things
Are but brief voices, breathed on shifting strings."
Here, too, is a memorial window to Captain Thomas Wingate, of the 2nd Queen's Royal Regiment, who died in 1869. There are tablets to the Fitzgeralds and Blakes, and many notable people, and they look old, very old; yet 'tis only 113 years since the First Fleet anchored in Botany Bay. And the church looks old, old, very old, and the broad arrow is cut on the foundation-stones; but our young nation is far, far away from the old church.
In the churchyard are laid the bones of the men who made the history of New South Wales: the lawyer, the civil servant, the squatter and J.P., and' he military men of our long ago, which yet lie so close to us. Here, for instance, is the tomb of Thomas Arndell, one of the earliest civil officers in the Medical Department, who died in 1821. He came out with the First Fleet under Governor Phillip, and was one of those who saw that original landing at Kurnell, in Botany Bay, on January 18th, 1788. And here, in the graveyard of St. Matthew's, overlooking the Hawkesbury River, is raised his simple monument, that will appeal so powerfully to generations yet unborn. Close beside him is the tomb of Francis Beddock, the lawyer of the olden time. They still recall the stories about him in the district, and it seems odd to sit beside the creeping, crystal river, listening to the stories of the olden days, and then come on the old man's grave. The natives say that there was an old settler in the district—they show you his house and tell you his name—who could neither read nor write. He had some dealings with the lawyer, and in a matter of interest Mr. Beddock said it would be so much. "Nay," said the old illiterate, "not so much as that." The lawyer took down the "ready reckoner" of the day, and showed him the figures. "I don't know nothin' about figures," said the sturdy farmer; "but that's wrong." The lawyer stood by the "ready reckoner," and the old man had to pay; but the incident impressed the legal mind. Mr. Beddock went home and reckoned the interest up for himself, and, lo! the book was wrong! And now the lawyer and his old client sleep side by side in the churchyard, and the interest on the earthly debts is forgotten, save as a fireside story.
Here, too, lies Captain Brabyn, one of the New South Wales Corps, who died in 1835, aged 76, and his story is a full and varied one, for the three were giants in those days, and the men who made the country were men of true British grit. Near by him is a paling enclosure, containing two flat-topped tombs. Over them the trees have grown, a privet, and a couple of peach trees; but time has dealt lightly with the graves. The palings look fresh and young, and the lettering is still very clear on the lichen-specked stones. On the nearest one is carved—
"HERE LIETH ENTOMBED THE REMAINS OF MRS. REBECCA COX, WIFE OF WILLIAM COX, ESQ., OF CLARENDON, WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE THE 5TH OF MARCH, 1819, AGED 56 YEARS. IN TESTIMONY OF THE EXALTED VIRTUES THAT ADORNED HER CHARACTER, NOT ONLY AS A WIFE AND MOTHER, BUT IN ALL THE OTHER RELATIVE DUTIES OF LIFE, THIS TOMB IS ERECTED TO PERPETUATE HER MEMORY BY HER AFFECTIONATE HUSBAND."
That occupies one half of the stone. Below it is the inscription:
"HERE ALSO LIE THE REMAINS OF WILLIAM COX, ESQ., J.P., WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE THE 15TH DAY OF MARCH, 1837, AGED 72 YEARS. 'NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH WE HAVE DONE, BUT ACCORDING TO HIS OWN MERCY HE SAVED US.' READER, 'BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED.'"
Standing on the tombstones, close by the frail old wooden fence, gazing on the carven record, one seems very near to the fountain of the history of our country. The old church is very near us; we are indeed in "God's acre." And the twitter of countless birds but deepens and intensifies the silence, and the air is full of a sweet, life tonic, vibrating with a stillness which is audible. Here we stand with all that is left to us of that grand old William Cox whose name is so closely interwoven with all that is best in New South Wales. One of the Bell family, who are closely interwoven by marriage with the Coxes, said that he could travel from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Sydney and never sleep one night out of the house of a relative. And here sleeps the father of the Australian Cox, who only died in 1837, the year in which our late Gracious Queen came to the throne. So close do we stand to the beginning of Australian history. The other tomb within the Cox enclosure has also a history. It says:
"HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF MR. JAMES KING, OF MULGOA, WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON THE 27TH OF JUNE, 1829. MANY YEARS A RESPECTED AND FAITHFUL ASSISTANT TO WILLIAM COX, ESQ., J.P., OF CLARENDON. THIS MEMORIAL IS ERECTED TO HIS MEMORY BY A GRATEFUL FRIEND."
Who will tell the story of James King? He died after Mrs. Cox, but before William Cox, and he was buried in the family selection. There was something truly patriarchal in the life of those days: but, note ye, gentle reader, and 'tis a quaint sign: the servant was "Mr.", but the master was "Esq." There is something pathetic in the inscriptions if you pause to consider on them. James King was a good man and true, who died at Mulgoa in that far away 1829, and they carried his body from the out-of-the-world place by the Nepean to the town of Windsor, on the Hawkesbury, and laid him near his dear old mistress. He left his wealth to his god-child, who was called Edward King Cox, but that child has also passed away ere this; and so passeth all the sons of men! From the quiet graveyard on the banks of the Hawkesbury River to Wimborne, in England, is a long cry, but the life of William Cox began beyond the seas, and there we will seek him out.
William Cox, of Clarendon, N.S.W., was born at Wimbourne Minster, Dorset, England, on December 19th, 1764. He was the second son and fourth child of Robert Cox, and he was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School. And strange it seems that Wimbourne Minster, one of the oldest towns in Britain, should he connected (through William Cox) with Windsor, one of the oldest towns in New South Wales. We stand too close to Windsor to be able to read the romance of its history, but Wimbourne Minster is mingled with the wars of Romans, Saxons, and Danes in the olden time. The little town is of no account now; it has slept through the fevered centuries, only sending out its sons to fight the battles of the nation in far lands. But in Roman days it was a fortress; it was a Roman camp; it was Ventageladia, or the town on the river. It was on the banks of the Allen River, near its confluence with the Stour, and there the Roman soldiers enjoyed the sweet English country life in the days when the world was wide.
But Rome had her own troubles, and the Britons were a hard, masterful race; and so Ventageladia was deserted, and the Saxons gave the place a new name. There was the river, or Wim, and there was a creek, or bourne, which ran on the other side of the town; and so, with the old Roman glory of camp and court about it, there arose the new Saxon town of Wimbourne. And the centuries were born and died, and Alfred the Great came and saw the scones burn in the cottager's kitchen, and he brought peace to the troubled land. Then Edward the Elder, his son, ruled the land, but his Cousin-German, Ethelwald, would fain have been King, and they fought at the old Roman camp at Wimbourne, and Ethelwald had to flee. Then he came again, at the head of the Danes, but Edward mustered his Saxons and defeated his forces and slew him; and so waged the war through the dreary, blood-stained centuries, until Alexandra, the Sea-King's daughter, was married to our Prince of Wales in 1863, and our great poet sang,—
Saxon and Norman and Dane are we.
But all of us Danes in our welcome of thee.
Wimborne Minster was one of the placed in Britain where the races fought for mastery; where the cross of Christ was raised, and the heathen made a vain struggle. In the year 705 A.D. the sweet Saint Cuthburga erected a great nunnery at Wimbourne, and the Gospel was preached through gentle service to all who came thither, but the Danes swept that away, and erected thereon a great college, which endured until the time of Henry VIII., when its princely endowments were forfeited to the Crown. But Queen Elizabeth restored part of the estates to the school, and in that Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School was educated William Cox, of Clarendon, N.S.W. So are we bound together in this brief life of ours!
In the old church, or Minster, which gave its second name to the town lie the bodies of the Kings and Queens and mighty ones of old. In that church, as in St. Matthew's at Windsor, is written the history of the country. Here lies entombed Ethelred, the brother of King Alfred the Great, and his ponderous Latin epitaph seems to resemble in some sort the epitaphs on the Cox's at Windsor:—
"S. ETHELREDI REGIS WEST SAXONUM
MARTYRIS, QUI ANNO DOMINI,
APILIS PERMANIS DANORBUM PAGONOR
From the King of West Saxony and his Pagan surroundings in 872 A.D. to William Cox, and his Hawkesbury home, 1837 A.D., is a long stretch, yet the thread of history binds them together in union strange.
The Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans, and all the warring tribes coalesced to make the British race, and the little town faded from history. The old school still stands where Saint Cuthburga founded the nunnery, and there William Cox was educated. Then he moved to Devizes, in Wilts, where he married Rebecca Upjohn, of Bristol, in 1789, at the age of 25. They were stirring days those: the gates of the temple of Janus were forever open, and the sons of the Carline wife were teaching the prowess of England's sons to all the world. Young Cox was a man of good estate, and served in the Wilts Militia, in the service where the country gentlemen showed both their will and ability to serve their country. During the French war he got a taste of the anxieties of hostility, but he longed for action, and on July 8th, 1795, at the age of 31, he received his commission as ensign in the 117th Foot. A year after (June 20th. 1796) he exchanged into the 68th Foot, and on February 17th, 1797, he was made lieutenant; but there came a woeful time of peace, and his opportunity for war was not. On September 28th, 1798, he was appointed paymaster, and was ordered to Cork Harbour.
In that year—the famous '98—of song and story, Ireland was in a ferment. Rebellion had raised its head, and the two races, English and Irish, were at deadly enmity. The rebels were being deported to "Botany Bay," and Lieutenant William Cox was ordered to await the filling up of the transport "'Minerva" (Captain Salkeld) with rebels, and take them on to Australia.
How he came to be ordered on this service opens one of the most singular chapters in English history. The Government of that day had need for all its soldiers. It had accepted Australia as a fit place to send its convicts to, but there were no soldiers to send out to guard them. The Government, therefore, called for volunteers to form a "New South Wales Corps," for in those days New South Wales was Australia.
The New South Wales Corps was to consist of 1000 men, and the first officer to command it was Captain Grose. The conditions for entrance into that corps were much easier than for other regiments at home, and there can be no doubt but some exceedingly undesirable men joined it; but there were some noble men amongst them, such as William Cox, and they were the salt of the body. The officers were to be soldiers first and colonists afterwards. The terms offered were very good, as the Government of the day understood them, but very few knew anything about Australia, and still fewer cared. Some men had already gone out to New South Wales as members of the corps, which afterwards became the 102nd Regiment, but their going was of little interest to England. In those days Australia was far, far away, much further than it is to-day, and little was known about it. In fact, if it had not been for Sir Joseph Banks, who came out with Captain Cook at his own expense, it might never have been an English colony at all. The ten years of possession had done a little to open the eyes of England to the value of the Terra Australis, the Great South Land of earlier days, but even then the recognition of its true value had not come. Lieutenant Cox had volunteered for the service, and no better man was ever appointed, for he was not only a strong man, but he was a true man, who could manage men, and not only get them to work for him, but could also obtain their love and respect as well.
He took with him to Cork Lieutenant Maundrell, of the New South Wales Corps, and 30 men of the rank and file. There they waited for their complement of rebels, who were being expatriated for doing what they held to be a stern and holy duty.
It is pleasant to interweave the history of William Cox with the records of Romans, Saxons, and Danes, and the early races of our far-off island home, but when he touches the rebellion of '98 we draw back with a shudder. No true Englishman ever takes pride or pleasure in the records of those awful days, and most of us wish that they could be forgotten. Fortunately, Captain Cox (his commission was really that of lieutenant, but he was in command of the troops) had nothing to do with Vinegar Hill or the other terrible events of that sad time. His duties were simple: they were to command the little detachment that went out in charge of the "transports" by the "Minerva" to New South Wales. One of the men who went out with him was Jos. Holt, a Protestant "rebel," who has left his autobiography, which gives a vivid picture of the times. He was known as "General" Holt, and he had led the Irish against the English on many a bitter day. He had escaped to the mountains and, like Prince Charlie, he had found shelter and comfort amongst the poorest classes, in spite of the rewards that were offered for his head. He had at last offered to surrender and leave the country, and his offer was accepted. He delivered himself up to the Government, but his treatment was such as to make Englishmen ashamed of their race. However, when Holt reached Cork, after most incredible sufferings, he met Captain Cox, and his troubles were practically over. He recognised that the treatment he and his fellows had received was not what the Government intended: it was the work of miserable under-strappers, with small souls and itching fingers. When Holt met men of the Captain Cox style, who recognised his worth, he was well treated, and he has left a record of the voyage which becomes, each passing year, of more intense interest to us.
Captain Cox took Holt down into his cabin, and introduced him to his sweet wife, for whom Holt conceived a reverent respect from the very first, and to his four sons—James, who afterwards settled in Tasmania; Charles, who was killed by the natives of the South Sea Islands; George and Henry, afterwards of Mulgoa and Mudgee. Another son, Edward, was afterwards born in New South Wales, and settled first at Mulgoa, but later acquired property at Rylstone.
The record of that eventful voyage deserves a book to itself, for it is full of suggestions of the history of that "most distressful" time. We are apt to think of the Irish "rebels" as being poor, ignorant wretches, who were the dupes of clever knaves, but the passenger list of the "Minerva" opens the eyes of careless folk. Amongst the "rebel felons" were the Rev. Henry Fulton, a clergyman of the Church of England; the Rev. Father Harold, a priest, and his brother-in-law, Captain William Henry Alcock, an officer in the British Army, on full pay, with an independent income of £300 a year as well. Yet he was a "rebel" sent out to expiate his crime on the "Minerva," and afterwards at what was called "Botany Bay." His wife came aboard while in Cork Harbour, and got him to assign the £300 a year to her, and once she obtained it she bade him an airy farewell, and he never heard from her more. Then there were Captain John St. Leger, also a captain on full pay, and Dr. O'Connor, all "rebels."
Captain Cox introduced Holt to General Myers, who, on behalf of the Government, offered him his liberty, on condition of taking command of a cavalry regiment and rooting out the "rebels." Holt refused that, but General Myers took no offence at it. He even told Captain Cox that when he reached New South Wales he should see Governor King, and, presenting the General's compliments, ask him to do what he could for Joseph Holt. It was a great pity that Holt was not treated more liberally in our country, but they were terrible times then, and it is not easy to measure the events of those days by the standards of these. Holt was a fairly well-educated man, and had acted as deputy-manager in the estate of Sir John Blaguiere, where he was also road-making, and a great many other things. He was a very able man, as he afterwards proved to Captain Cox, and he was an affectionate man to his family and a true man through all.
On August 24th, 1799, the "Minerva" sailed from Cork Harbour, having on board 34 women (besides Mrs. Cox), 132 male prisoners, one lieutenant (Maundrell), four sergeants, 27 privates, three mates, four quartermasters, and 20 sailors. She was a well-armed ship, and carried several guns, but her crew sounds very small compared to the number of prisoners.
Such a voyage is generally a record of suffering, sorrow, and bitter injustice, for the men in charge of the ships of that day were often of a very poor type. Captain Salkeld had his faults, no doubt—most people have—but he had also some virtues, which are likewise somewhat prevalent. When the weather was fine, Captain Cox would ask his permission to bring the prisoners up on deck for the air. The captain sometimes pleaded that he had no quartermaster to spare to watch them. Then Captain Cox would respond, "I'll get a quartermaster, and I'll look out for them." And he'd get the keys and get Joseph Holt to act as quartermaster. So the prisoners saw more of the sunshine and the sea and the sky than prisoners generally did, and they had full and plenty of good food; and Joseph suggests that many of the "passengers" never had such a good time in their lives before. But he recognised who was at the bottom of all the peace and enjoyment. He put it all down to Captain Cox. He wrote in his book that "this excellent man contributed to the health and happiness of all the unfortunate persons on board." Such is the power of one strong, true man on a ship or in a country. Whereever William Cox went he made his mark and impressed his intense individuality on the society in which he moved. There was no special reason why the "Minerva" should have been a particularly good ship, yet it stands on record that she was the best ship that ever carried prisoners from the Old Land to here. There were only three deaths on board during the whole live months of the trip, and there were a good many births. Never was a cleaner, healthier, or heartier crowd landed in Port Jackson under the old regime than came in the "Minerva," and that was due, beyond a doubt, to the influence of Captain William Cox.
When we sail from Sydney for Home, we reckon on possible storms, and even—on rare occasions—quarantine, but those are almost the only dangers. In the days when the "Minerva" sailed the seas there were many and grievous dangers. One day there were cries of "A sail! A sail!" and all the free people were full of excitement to learn what the on-coming ship was. It is a pleasant break to the monotony of a trip to catch a glimpse of other people on the great sea. In those days, however, the excitement was deeply tinged with danger, for every sail was a possible enemy. England was always at war with somebody, and the men of old were not too particular about the laws of war. The ports were crowded with light vessels bearing "letters of marque" and ships
"Dart from the nooks and crannies
White eagles athirst for prey;
Room for a little adventure,
And plenty of room for play."
The free people on the "Minerva" were excited, but, remembering the condition of the others, one can only wonder what their sensations were. Before the end of the voyage we will get a glimpse of that. The strange sail that had excited the voyagers so much hoisted Spanish colours and signalled for the "Minerva" to "heave-to." She was a fine frigate. Instead of heaving-to, Captain Salkeld resolved on a race for it, and, putting his ship on her best tack, he started to clear out before the frigate had time to fire a shot. But the piratical stranger had no idea of letting a fine-looking ship of the "Minerva" type escape him. The Spaniard cracked on every stitch of canvas, and started on a determined endeavour to overhaul the flying Britisher. It was a long chase, for there was very little difference in the sailing qualities of the two ships. What there was, however, was in favour of the "Minerva." All day long the Spaniard urged his ship after the Britisher, and when night fell he was so close that he could kelp her in sight, and so the next day broke with the Spaniard still in chase. It was an exciting time for all on board the "Minerva," because capture meant to the "transports" freedom; whilst to the crew and free people it meant a Spanish dungeon, or perhaps death, for the Dons were not a particular race, and they hated the English sincerely.
During the next night the "Minerva" lost the Spaniard. When the next day dawned, and the enemy had vanished from off the surface of the shining, trackless waters, then were the voyagers glad. They realised that they had enjoyed an exceedingly narrow escape, thanks solely to the sailing qualities of the "Minerva." That such a good sailer should have been used in the transport service is not a little remarkable, but to that alone was due the fact that William Cox and his family arrived in Australia.
For many a day the ship ploughed steadily along towards the antipodes, and life on board sank into the usual dull routine. There were little quarrels and little reconciliations. There was an evil-tongued, mean-minded man on board, who made mischief. The doctor tried to cure him by being good to him, but Joseph Holt managed to spoil his tricks. So the ship sailed on until it happened on a day that two sails were raised. They were fairly in the track, and Captain Salkeld was no coward. His ship was a good sailer, and he felt fairly easy in trying to make out the strangers. Again they were Spaniards, but this time it looked different. One was a "galleon," and the other looked like a "prison ship." They were a tempting bait to an Englishman; for are we not a pious race? And a bold? And is not, the sea ours? To capture two big Spanish ships on the high seas was a most noble and venturesome thing to do, the only question at issue being the attitude of Joseph Holt and his "United Irishman." He was asked if he would fight. With a stern, set face, he said, "I will;" and he meant it, but he didn't mean it the way Captain Salkeld thought he meant it. He made a "mental reservation." But the Englishmen were not aware of that, and he was invited to pick his gun's crew from amongst the Irish prisoners; and he picked out six strong, brave men. Joseph knew how to handle a big gun. He got out the rammers and sponges, loaded his gun, and his crew stood ready for action.
The "Minerva" was in a good state for a fight. Captain Cox had his soldiers on the quarter-deck, all ready for action. Lieutenant Maundrell was sick at the time, but Captain Cox was a born commander, and there was no trouble over that. The crew was in fighting trim, and they said their prayers ere yet they fought, as the Englishmen of those days did, and in their own language they cried—
"The sinner that foreswore Thee,
The fool that passed Thee by,
Our times are known before Thee—
Lord, grant us strength to die."
And they moved forward to capture the two Spaniards upon the King's highway—the English crew, and the Irish "rebels," and the men of the New Smith Wales Corps. Closer they came, and ever closer, and the Spaniards made no sign. They did not so much as haul down their flags as a sign of surrender. The Spaniards were aye but a foolish folk! Closer and closer came the now silent "Minerva." There was to be no wasting of good powder on foolish Deigos. It was to be a close, sudden, awful blow, and no wordy argument. Soon it would be "Fire!" and the angels of death would flash from the sides of the British ship into the silly sea-folk of Spain—when, lo! an awful thing happened. The sides of the "prison ship" seemed to suddenly move and a great row of ports lifted up, and out came tiers of savage-looking cannon, and before the startled "Minervians" fairly understood the movement, there belched from the sides of the big Spanish frigate a sheet of fire and iron! It was a dreadful mistake; but nobody, not even an old sailor, would have taken her for a ship of war. Yet there she was: she had given indubitable proof of her character. But her sailors were bad marksmen! They had tried for a dramatic effect to terrify the innocent Englishmen, just as they were in the habit of terrifying the savage natives of lonely islands. They didn't know the sons of John Bull. Before the smoke had cleared away, Captain Salkeld had put his helm over and reached the stern of the frigate, and was sailing away out of reach of a better-directed broadside. Before the Deigns could alter their course to bring their guns to bear, the "Minerva" was almost out of range, and not another shot reached her; but it was a narrow escape! It shows how free and easy were the manners of the sea-folk in the days that were before Trafalgar and the Nile.
When they were safely away, "General" Holt was congratulated on his attitude towards England's foes. He smiled bitterly, and said, "If a chance had come, you would have found that 'England's foes' are my friends." He meant to have turned his gun against the crew of the "Minerva," and make a bold bid for freedom for himself and his fellow "passengers" beneath the Spanish flag. He was so frank about it, and so honest, and, withal, so much in the right, that all hands forgave him for what he had meant to do; and so he suffered not for his intentions. They were of a manly make, those men, and we may not gracefully measure their doings by modern ideals. The hearts of them were true and honest.
On January 11th, 1800, the good ship "Minerva" dropped anchor in Sydney Harbour, after a voyage of nearly five months. They left Cork Harbour on August 24th, 1799, and arrived in Port Jackson on January 11th, 1800. As giving some idea of the state of manners in Sydney at that time, the following incident is suggestive. As soon as the anchor was down, Captain Cox and his family went ashore, but the "passengers" were detained until suitable arrangements could be made. A little boat came alongside, and was warned off by the sentry. The occupant of the boat paid no attention, and the sentry fired, according to his instructions, and shot him through the heart. There was a turmoil over it, of course, and the sentry was duly tried; but he had only obeyed orders, so he was acquitted. That gives a fair idea of the state of matters in the young colony at that date. This was only twelve years after the first settlement, and civilisation was still in its swaddling clothes.
The banks of Sydney Harbour were still clothed with dense scrub, except at what is now Farm Cove and Circular Quay. The first attempts at farming had not been brilliantly successful, and when we think of the ground on which farming was tried, it is wonderful to think of those primitive and unskilled men being able to grow anything at all. A colony had been established on the Hawkesbury River, but what with floods, droughts, and drunkenness, the results were sad. Perhaps the best idea of the state of the colony at this time may be gathered from the following letter sent by Captain McArthur to the Duke of Portland in 1796:—
"A great number are settled on farms without any means being adopted to ascertain the quality of the soil that is to be cultivated; the consequence of which is that after a year's labour has been expended it is discovered there is no prospect of such land ever supporting its owner. Many who are settled on the most fertile parts of the country are so dissolutely disposed and confirmed in such habits of idleness that it can never be expected they will voluntarily labour whilst there is a possibility of subsisting by plunder. Had those men, instead of being permitted to become settlers, been obliged to employ themselves in the service of an industrious and vigilant master, they would not only have produced by their labour enough to maintain themselves, but there would have been a surplus to contribute to the furnishing of the civil and military establishments.
"When the stores were opened this season to receive maize from the settlers, there were in the granaries more than 20,000 bushels of wheat; there were also unthreshed nearly 6000 bushels that were raised under my direction on the public ground last year. This wheat was more than sufficient to supply the colony until next harvest, and it is a fact of which Governor Hunter could not be ignorant. Notwithstanding this, he has since permitted more than 30,000 bushels of maize to be purchased at an expense of nearly £8000 sterling. To what uses this corn can be applied is not yet known, as it is certain there will be no want of it.
"Had the settlers, instead of having their corn purchased from them, been obliged to keep it, it is probable they would have raised an immense number of hogs; but, as they have now sold their grain and have no means of feeding them, they have no alternative but to destroy their breeding-sows. Already so many of these animals have been killed, and bought by the Government at 1s. per lb., that I am convinced the whole race would be exterminated in a few months, but for the care of the officers of the settlement."
That was, practically, an impeachment of Governor Hunter, who had succeeded Governor Phillip; but it gives an excellent idea of the colony from the pen of a man on the spot at the time. Perhaps the man was prejudiced, and not easy to work with, but he was a man with a seeing eye, a fluent tongue, and a ready pen. The fact was simply this: men were sent out to govern the colony who had no idea of political economy, nor even of the simplest elements of government by law. The Governors had enormous power for good or evil, and, as a rule, very little knowledge of what was required from them. That they should have succeeded as well as they did is a great tribute to their common sense. Governor Hunter endeavoured to fix a minimum wage for the colony in 1797, but one of the most difficult things in the world for any man to deal with is the labour question. But the less a man understands the subject, the more apt he is to meddle with it, for
"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
Yet, Governor Hunter tried his best to develop the resources of the young country, and even woollen cloth was manufactured (called in those days "Parramatta cloth") under the most grievous disadvantages, and he sent samples of it to England, with apologies. That was the initial step in "colonial industry." That was just over a century ago, and our woollen mills are not very extensive yet, but their output is not inconsiderable. Captain McArthur had imported a large number of sheep, and when a record was made in the colony of the live stock and cultivated land, in the August preceding the arrival of the "Minerva," the results were as follow:—Horses, 47; mares, 91; bulls and oxen, 192; cows, 517; male sheep, 2016; female sheep, 3087; male goats, 912; female goats, 1851; hogs, 3459. Land under cultivation: Wheat, 6125 acres; barley, 82 acres; maize, 2532 acres; oats, 7½ acres; potatoes, 4 acres.
When William Cox landed here, the entire stock of sheep was a little over 5000, and they were of a type that our sheep-breeders of to-day would laugh to scorn.
Into this wild land, bounded on all sides, apparently, by the Blue Mountains, the boy from Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School at Wimbourne Minster was thrust to make his way. His first move showed his capacity. He asked "General" Holt to be his manager in the development of whatever land he took. Holt was not really a prisoner—he was only exiled; and he resented the idea of going as a "servant." But Captain Cox had a great capacity for handling men. It is a royal gift, and if not possessed can never be acquired. Holt became manager for William Cox. When Brush Farm was offered for sale, Holt went to inspect it, and reported very favourably on it, and William Cox purchased it. It was but a hundred-acre place, yet the cleared land of the colony was so limited that it seemed a large space. Here Holt went to work and showed his great capacity. He had "assigned servants" handed over to him, and with their labour he made Brush Farm, on the Parramatta River, into a model.
The enemies of the farmer were the same then as now—rust, blight, floods, fires, and insects. The first wheat crop that was coming towards harvest at Brush Farm looked well. It was a grand crop. Within three weeks of harvest there arose a terrible hailstorm, which levelled the crop with the ground. Holt's story of the struggles of that time were pathetic in the extreme, but he was a success, and added other farms and other allotments to the original one, until Brush Farm became a most notable place.
The farm was taken in January or February, 1800, and in October, 1801, the farm is thus described in the Public Records:—"Mr. Cox purchased from settlers 1380 acres—400 acres cleared, 248 acres wheat and maize—24 horses, 20 head of horned cattle, 1000 sheep, and 200 hogs." That was rapid development!
Captain Cox purchased Canterbury Farm from the Rev. Mr. Johnson, who seems to have been a most enterprising and intelligent gentleman farmer, who raised oranges that he had the seeds of from Rio [de] Janeiro, and sold them for sixpence and ninepence each. He was a most excellent farmer, and made a fortune early. When this place was added to Brush Farm, it rendered it an exceedingly extensive place. In 1802 there were 110 men employed on it—the largest establishment in the colony and they were the best-dressed, best-behaved men in the country. Holt was a perfect genius for getting good, satisfactory work out of them. Mr Cox once asked him how it was that he never had to bring his men to punishment, having more men under him than any other employer of labour in the colony. His reply was, "Come with me, and I will show you my private flogger." He produced two hoes, one weighing 3 lbs., the other 7 lbs. "Now," he said, "when a man misbehaves, he gets the seven-pounder; and, using it once he never wishes to use it again."
The method of farming in those early days and disposing of the produce of the farm was exceedingly interesting. The Government was responsible for the food and clothing of a very large number of people who had been "sent out;" and, as we mentioned previously, the Governor was glad to purchase all the wheat and grain that was grown locally. A well-known man says:—"Agriculture flourished in these early days of the colony, notwithstanding it was all done by human labour. The Government purchased all the wheat farmers could grow at a given price, generally 10s. the bushel, and as assigned servants only cost their board and clothing, farming must have been very profitable. Stock at this time was very dear. Holt quotes a brood mare as being worth £100 to £150, a cow from £30 to £50, and sheep from £3 to £4."
Joseph Holt would be greatly interested if he only knew how valuable his autobiography has been to those interested in the early days. He has given us simple pictures of life as it was then, which are perfect gems. He made no literary effort. He had a simple story to tell, and he told it. His story of how Mr. Cox bought a flock of "rotten Bengal ewes" at 60s. a head and a brood mare for £150 makes good reading. Holt thought that Mr. Cox had been taken in, and he made the next deal with the seller and got square; but that is only one side of the story, for Holt was a good deal biased. But his picture of the times is lurid. He never failed in his deep and enduring affection for Mr. William Cox and his wife, and he had some terrible trials to go through. The men who were at the head of affairs were rough, strong fellows, generally, and the Irish "rebel" seems to have been sincerely hated; but he was a good man. In the dark days that came he was faithful to the Cox's, and we can but sympathise with him in his sufferings. Mr. Cox laid the foundation of one of the finest flocks of Saxony merinos in Australia, and the industry has been in the family ever since.
The character of William Cox stands out like a beacon fire all through the troubled days of colonial development. Holt sketched him admirably. He said:—
"There never was a man who desired to serve another more than he did, or do a kind act. When the purchaser of a horse or a mare came to make his first payment, Mr. Cox would often indulge them with six months' longer credit. He was truly a goad friend to every honest man he met with. His good treatment of the convicts in his service had the happiest effect upon many of those who were so lucky as to get into his service: most of them, by finding out that honesty was the best policy, became sincerely honest and well-conducted, and were purged and purified from their former detestable propensities, and lived and died valuable members of society. So much does gentle and mild treatment win upon the minds of men, while harsh severity and coercion hardens their hearts and brutalises their character."
Here and there in the records of the time we catch a passing glimpse of Brush Farm and its kindly owner. Some of these, like little cameos, set in the bosoms of past Time, have a deeper interest even than their reference to our hero gives them. One of the visitors to Brush Farm was Mons. Peron, who visited Port Jackson for Napoleon Buonaparte in 1802. His record of a visit to Brush Farm is exceedingly interesting. He said:—
"Often on the summit of a picturesque hillock may be discerned a large and elegant mansion, surrounded by more considerable cultivated lands, and covered by greater numbers of flocks and labourers, all indicating it to be the property of a rich and industrious owner. The one in question belonged to Mr. Cox, the paymaster of the colony, to whom I had been introduced at Colonel Peterson's. As soon as he perceived M. Bellefin and me, he got into a boat belonging to his farm, and, coming to our vessel, invited us in so pressing a manner to pass the night at his house that we could not resist his friendly solicitations. While they were preparing a hasty dinner we amused ourselves in going over his farm, every department of which was to us a new subject of surprise. It was not, however, the only possession of the kind which Mr. Cox had acquired on these banks, for on a second voyage which I made to his estate—with Colonel Paterson and his lady, and Mr. Laycock, jun., a lieutenant in the New South Wales Regiment—Mr. Cox took us all to dinner to another farm, still more rich and elegant than that I have just described. It is situated more inland, on the side of Castle Hill. The road which leads from one to the other of these farms is so wide and convenient that we went over it in a carriage. It is between six and seven miles in length, and to make it immense loads of rubbish were necessary. The whole of Mr. Cox's land accounts to 860 acres, of which more than 300 were sown with wheat, 15 with maize, 6 with barley, and 12 with oats. Three hundred and forty-nine acres were reserved for the pasturage of the cattle, which comprised 5 horses, 3 mares, 27 horned cattle, besides 800 sheep of the finest breeds."
Mons. Peron has left us some charming records of his visit to Australia when the ships "Naturaliste" and "Investigateur" visited our shores. When our poor Captain Flinders visited the Mauritius he was put in gaol there, and robbed of his papers. He had to suffer six years' cruel imprisonment at the hands of the French Governor, and one can but compare the kindliness of the British reception of Frenchmen with the reception of Englishmen by Frenchmen. However, that, too, is one of the subjects that were almost as well left to sleep now.
When we read Mons. Peron's account of the quantity of stock on Brush Farm in 1802, we can but surmise that the season was a most prosperous one, and utterly unlike the average season. In the very next year, i.e., 1803, we have this record:—
"On the 21st October a more beautiful appearance of a successful harvest never flattered the expectations of a farmer. It was within three weeks of being ripe; the ears were full and plump; the straw clean and well coloured; and in every respect it was gratifying to look at...In three days it was completely destroyed by the rust, and the produce of 266 acres was not worth £20. This extraordinary blight, which, I believe, is peculiar to this country, is produced by fogs which came on suddenly and obscure the sky for some days; and if it happens when the wheat is near ripe, inevitably destroys it. It covers the whole straw and ear with a reddish powder, like the rust of irons. It was a loss of at least £15 per acre, which amounted to £3990—a terrible loss at the time."
For this to occur in a young colony, just struggling into methods of self-support, this was exceedingly disastrous. It reduced the colony to the verge of starvation, and meant absolute ruin to many good, hard-working men. If any other race except our own had endeavoured to colonise Australia, the attempt would have been given up in despair. It is easy to look back now and criticise the pioneers, but their lives were cast in cruelly hard places. Not man alone was vile, but the very elements appeared to conspire against them. Why the rust should have appeared then is a mystery! Some people affirm that rust is the product of a long series of years of the same crop in unmanured ground. But the colony was new then; the soil had scarcely been turned over. They had no ploughs, and the hoeing the soil got was not of a nature to prove exhaustive. Yet here came the rust, to the almost total ruination of the young colony. It afterwards disappeared, and was not seen in the colony till about 1862 and 1863, when it re-appeared with destructive virulence. The wheat crops in these years were an almost total failure, and wheat crops in the coastal districts are always risky.
In these days we consider droughts and hot winds as evils indeed, but then they were disasters of a fearful magnitude, and the early men had their full share of every evil. So early as 1791 there was a record of a hot wind, as follows, by Collins:—
"At Rose Hill the heat on the 10th and 11th of the month (February), on which days at Sydney the thermometer stood at 105 deg. in the shade, was so excessive—being much increased by fire in the adjoining woods—that immense numbers of the large fox bat were seen hanging at the boughs of the trees and dropping in the water, which, by their stench, was rendered unwholesome. They had been observed for some days before regularly taking their flight in the morning from New South Wales and returning in the evening. During the excessive heat, many dropped dead while on the wing; and it was remarkable that those which were picked up were chiefly males. In several parts of the harbour the ground was covered with different sorts of small birds, some dead and others gasping for water. The wind was from the north-west, and did much injury to the gardens."
There were no evils that we are subject to to-day that those lion-hearted men had not to endure in the early days. They lacked our comforts and conveniences, but they had to face the evils; and as we look calmly back into that dawn of our colonial life, the men and women rise into Titanic proportions. Their heroic endurance can never be told.
While the colony was suffering from misgovernment, drought, rust, hot winds, and ruin, there were earnest men ever lifting their eyes to the hills and looking abroad for betterment. The Hawkesbury River had been discovered by Governor Phillip, who named Richmond Hill, and had settled a lot of people there. We may call the Hawkesbury the first-settled place outside of Sydney. Then the "Cowpastures" had been discovered somewhat by accident. During the first year of the colony's existence some of the imported cattle had, strayed sway into the dense scrub, haunted by the blacks, and had been hopelessly lost. It was a terrible loss at the time, but it seas one of the incidents that led to great events.
The blacks who came to the settlement at Sydney, the local blacks, used to hold corroborees, to which blacks came from the country districts. As these newcomers became became acquainted with our people they used to try to get up conversations. In the early days of Governor Hunter's administration they tried to convey the idea that they had seen some strange animals in the bush. They were very big, made a terrible roaring, and butted savagely at the blacks. Somebody was clever enough to connect this pantomimic story of the blackfellows with the long-lost cattle. This was in 1795, some seven years after the less, but, being an event of supreme importance, it had been remembered. There were two convicts who were usually employed in sheeting for the officers' mess, and they were mere familiar with the hinterland than anybody else; so they were invited to verify the story of the natives. They boldly struck out into new paths, and after some days returned with the report that they had seen a herd of cattle in a remote part of the colony. This was a matter of such supreme importance that the Governor took in hand to investigate the matter himself. On November 18th he started from Parramatta with Captain Collins, Captain Waterhouse, Mr. Bass, Mr. Hacking, and the two aforesaid convicts. They travelled two days from Parramatta to the south-south-west, and it must have been hard travelling. They crossed the Nepean River, and came on a splendid herd of about forty, grazing in one of the loveliest spots in the colony—one of those places which is said to have resembled "those spots in the most improved countries, where the refinements of art are employed to imitate the happiest effects of Nature. Here were found a verdant sward, a graceful inequality of surface, and intermixture of trees, shrubs, and thickets, with here and there beautiful openings in which were seen pieces of water covered wills ducks, black swans, and other fowls, and fringed with various plants and flowers."
That place was named "The Cowpastures," and today it forms part of Camden Park, which was taken up by Captain McArthur in 1805. It was a sweet and pleasant place then—it is equally so now but the discovery of the herd of wild cattle was an event of exceeding great importance. It is interesting to listen to the remarks of Captain Collins on the subject, knowing what we do now of the capacity of Cumberland and Cook counties for fattening cattle. He said:—
"It was a most pleasing circumstance to have in the woods of New Holland a thriving herd of wild cattle. Many proposals were made to bring them into the settlement; but in the days of want, if these should be sacrificed, in what better condition would the colony be for having possessed a herd of cattle in the woods?—a herd of which, if suffered to remain undisturbed for some years, would, like the cattle of South America, always prove a market for the inhabitants of the country, and perhaps not only for their own consumption, but for exportation. The Governor saw it in this light, and determined to guard as much as was in his power against any attempt to destroy them."
They left the cattle to run wild, but somehow they never increased. They were alleged to have perished in later droughts, but it stands to reason that the marauding settlers had a weakness for fresh beef. The wild cattle were too much for the blackfellows, but the white men in the sparsely-settled district would soon make away with them.
What led to the most important results from the discovery of the cattle was the action of the sons of William Cox. They were fine strapping fellows. George (father of the Hon. Geo. H. Cox) and Henry. They went prospecting. Captain McArthur had takers up what is now Camden and the Cowpastures, but the valley of the Mulgoa was still unoccupied, and it seas a fine pastoral and agricultural country. The young men went out to view the land, but there were tribes of blacks who resented their intrusion, and they had almost paid for their temerity with their lives. But they discovered the Promised Land, and their father took up the land along with them, and they called it "Littlefields." That was about 1810, and a new life began at Mulgoa, for they started a dairy farm.
Another event of supreme importance—connected, too, with the Mulgoa settlement—was the departure from the colony of Captain Waterhouse. He had a very valuable flock of Spanish merinos, which he had imported from the Cape of Good Hope. These had done excellently, for it was early discovered that the merino improved on the natural grasses of New South Wales. When Captain Waterhouse was leaving the colony he sold part of his flock to Mr. William Cox, who took them to Canterbury. There they did fairly well, until he took up Mulgoa, when he sent them over there. Mr. Geo. Cox took to breeding sheep as the primal industry. He purchased some excellent Rambouillet merino ewes from Sir John Jamieson, of Regentville, and a number of rams from Mr. Riley, of Raby, and so laid the foundation-stone of that magnificent breed of sheep which have rendered the name of Cox famous all the world over.
It would not be out of place here briefly to refer to the enormous strides made in sheep-breeding during the next hundred years. At this time there were 6124 sheep, chiefly Bengal-bred, hairy, worthless animals, as far as wool was concerned. Pure merinos probably did not number more than 500; and from this small beginning we have now in Australasia some 120,000,000, or nearly one-third of the sheep in the world, and which for value of fleece are unsurpassed, bringing in an annual profit of £22,000,000. Then, again, some 4,000,000 sheep are annually shipped in either a frozen or tinned state, realising about £3,000,000 more. It is surprising that sheep throve in the early days in the sour forest country (all that was at this time known), for there was no cleared country except that under cultivation and ring-barking was not then practised. Still, the returns from sheep-farming must have been very satisfactory. The Agricultural Gazette for January, 1901, publishes an account sale of 75 bales of New South Wales wool for the year 1821, realising from 1s. 3d. to 10s. 4d. per lb. After the discovery of the country to the west of the Blue Mountains, and to the south beyond Goulburn, the sheep were quickly removed from their limited pastures in the county of Cumberland, and teak possession of the rich plains in the interior, which have since been their home. How little could these pioneers of the wool industry in Australia have imagined even the gigantic strides it would have made within the century, and the marvellous prices obtained for choice rams; neither could they have dreamt of the perfection to which scientific and careful breeding has developed in the fleeces of the present day.
The limits of New South Wales at that time were fixed by the Blue Mountains, which rose from the Nepean River, close to Mulgoa and Emu Plains. All attempts to cross the range and find a path to the interior had so, far proved utterly hopeless. Convicts had fled from the settlement, acid had taken to the mountains, but they had returned cowed by the solitary magnificence of the pathless precipices. Men had formed expeditions and had gone out full of hope and energy to win their way to the far side of that awful range, but they had also been defeated over and over again. It seemed as though nobody would ever succeed in crossing them. But the men were born—aye, the men were in New South Wales—who were going to do it. They were Blaxland, Lawson, and Wentworth. They started from the Nepean, and found their path easily enough to the mark of the limits of the last explorer, and then struggled on along the top of the range to where they could look down on the railing lands that lay beyond the mystic hills.
When that little party of explorers returned to Sydney with the story of their discovery, in the year 1813, it opened a new world to the struggling colonists. Beyond that frowning range there were vast possibilities; beyond the mountains lay, perchance, the El Dorado of the poets and the dreamers. Everything was possible now. The man in charge of the colony in those days was Governor Macquarie, and his soul was large enough to realise the importance of the discovery and the necessity for making the best use of it. Surveyor Evans was sent off at once to report on the lands, and, that report being exceedingly favourable, the Governor determined ass making a road over the mountains. The likeliest man in the colony to make the road was the chief magistrate of the district, Mr. William Cox, of Clarendon. He had sold out his Brush Farm and Parramatta River properties, and had moved out to Clarendon, near Windsor He had a name for fair dealing, for stern integrity, and for capacity in dealing with men.
Governor Macquarie having determined on a road to Bathurst, on
beyond the Blue Mountains, wrote at once to William Cox, Esq., J.P.,
(No. 43.) Government House, Sydney, 14th July, 1814. Sir,— 1. Having some time since determined on having a carriage road constructed from Emu Plains, on the left bank of the river Nepean, across the Blue Mountains, to that fine tract of open country to the westward of them, discovered lately by Mr. Evans, and having recently received from you a voluntary offer of your superintending and directing the working party to be employed on this very important service, I now most readily avail myself of your very liberal and handsome offer of superintending and directing the construction of this road; and do invest you with full power and authority to carry out this important design into complete effect, Government furnishing you with the necessary means to enable you to do so. 2. The number of artificers and labourers—namely, thirty—and the guard of eight soldiers you have yourself already selected, or required, shall be allowed and furnished to you forthwith for this service, and they shall be supplied with a plentiful and adequate ration of provisions whilst employed upon it. 3. Herewith you will receive a list of the number of artificers and labourers allowed for this purpose, together with a scale on the back thereof of the weekly ration of provisions they are to receive. You will also receive herewith for your guidance copies of my letters addressed to the Deputy Commissary-General on the subject of the provisions, stores, tools, utensils, arms, ammunition, slops, and other necessaries to be furnished from his depôt for this service, all of which will be forwarded to you to the depôt established on Emu Plains forthwith, and which you will be pleased to receive and take charge of on their arrival there, placing such a guard over them as you may deem expedient, the sergeant commanding the guard of soldiers being instructed to receive all his orders from you for the guidance of himself and party, and for their distribution. You will likewise receive herewith for your information a general list, or schedule, of the provisions, stores, slops, tools, implements, and other necessaries intended to be forwarded to you from Sydney by the two separate conveyances or convoys, including one horse, two new carts (with harness), and two yokes of well-broken-in bullocks, it being my intention to send off the first convoy from Sydney to-morrow morning for Emu Plains, and the second convoy in a fortnight afterwards. 4. I am in hopes the provisions, tools, and other necessaries will arrive on the banks of the Nepean in time to enable you to commence the construction of the new intended road on Monday, the 18th inst. Entertaining the fullest confidence in your zeal, knowledge, and abilities for conducting and executing this service in the manner intended, it becomes unnecessary for me to enter into any detail on the subject, the more especially as you are already in full possession of my wishes and sentiments, as communicated to you on our late conversation on this head. Suffice it, therefore, for me to specify here a few of the principal leading points necessary to direct your more particular attention to:— Firstly: The road is to commence at the ford (already determined on) on the river Nepean, Emu Plains, and from thence across the Blue Mountains to the Macquarie River, and a centrical part of Bathurst Plains, following the track laid down by Mr. Evans' map, of which I have already furnished you with a copy. But in case you should, upon further examination of the track he followed, find it advisable to make any occasional deviations therefrom, you have my full permission to do so. Secondly: The road thus made must be at least 12 ft. wide, so as to permit two carts or other wheel carriages to pass each other with ease. The timber in forest ground to be cut down and cleared away 20 ft. wide, grubbing up the stumps and filling up the holes, so that a four-wheel carriage or cart may pass without difficulty or danger. Thirdly: In brush ground it is to be cut 20 ft. wide and grubbed up 12 ft. wide. Any small bridges that may be found requisite to be made must be 12 ft. wide. I conceive this to be a sufficient width for the proposed road at present; but where it can with ease and convenience be done, I should prefer the road to be made 16 ft. wide. Fourthly: You will use your own discretion in establishing one or two more depôts for provisions, according as you may find them necessary, after you have once crossed the Blue Mountains and descended into the plain country, taking care to establish such depôts, however, in such places as affords plenty of good, wholesome water for man and beast. Whatever extra expense you may incur in constructing these depôts will be paid from the Colonial Police Fund, and also the amount of such slops, stores, or other articles as you may find it necessary to supply the working party with for their use and comfort during the time they are employed on this service. 5. I have now only to add that I shall at all times be happy to hear from you during the progress of the service you have thus been so good as to offer to see executed; and I shall most readily comply with any demands for provisions, stores, or tools you may have occasion to make during the continuance of it: having an entire confidence in your discretion and prudence, and being convinced that you will not make any demands that are not essentially requisite for promoting the present undertaking. 6. As it might prove of very great inconvenience, expense, and trouble to you personally, and greatly interrupt and disturb the working party, if the people, from motives of curiosity, were permitted to visit you or your party during the time you and they are employed on the present service, I have deemed it advisable to issue a Government and general order prohibiting such idlers from visiting you, or crossing the Nepean at Emu Plains, without a pass signed by me. I enclose you herewith some few printed copies of this order, which I request you will have posted up at proper conspicuous places, and give the necessary order to your guard and to your constable to see it strictly enforced. I remain with regard, Sir, Your most obedient and humble servant, (Sgd.) L. MACQUARIE, Governor-in-Chief of N.S.W. To WILLIAM Cox, Esq. * * *
That letter was dated July 14th. Before the letter had been officially delivered, Mr. William Cox had selected his men—thirty in number—and, with a guard of eight soldiers, had crossed the Nepean and started work. Only those who have crossed the Blue Mountains with their eyes open can estimate the magnificent courage of the man who entered on such a Herculean labour with what we would consider such a totally insufficient staff. It is incredible to us that such a small party could have done such a mighty work; but this, more clearly than any argument, proves what mighty men dwelt in the land in those days.
William Cox, Esq., J.P., of Clarendon, N.S.W., was a worker. He was not a literary man, nor a juggler in cunning words. What he saw to be done, he did. He made no fuss about it. He came into conflict with nobody. When you think of the great work this man did in the olden time, all unhonoured and unsung, you feel a thrill of justifiable pride in belonging to the same race. William Cox, of Clarendon, was one of the men who made Australia, and it seems utterly pathetic that he should have been absent from our great celebrations on the making of our Commonwealth. He was one of the heroes of whom Will Ogilvie was thinking when he sang,—
'They are sleeping in the graveyards in their silent graves apart,
With empty arms and eager that would hold her to their heart,
Those statesmen of the buried years, these loyal men long dead;
Are they turning in their dreaming to the dull tramp overhead?
When they pin the stars and garters, when they write the titles rare,
The men who earned the honours are the men who won't be there!'
No, William Cox was not there when the honours were distributed, but posterity will see him in a true light, and will glorify him. He was an exact man, and he kept a record of his work. His story, written day by day during the progress of that wonderful road, is one of the literary marvels of the age. There is not a word in it of "style." There is no superfluous phrase in it. The man who wrote it was keeping a record of work done on a business basis, and it makes wonderful reading. It is as interesting as a novel, because it is a record of the greatest colonial undertaking up to that time. It is a record that will appeal to the men who come after us. Here it follows:—
Journal kept by Mr. W. Cox in making a road across the Blue Mountains from Emu Plains to a new country discovered by Mr. Evans to the westward.
After holding conversation with his Excellency the Governor at Sydney relative to the expedition, I took leave of him this day.
Began converting a cart into a caravan, to sleep in, as well as to take my own personal luggage, which was completed on the 16th.
Left Clarendon at 9 a.m.; arrived at Captain Woodruff's farm at noon. The carts from Richmond arrived at 2 p.m., and at 4 the two carts and waggon arrived from Sydney with provisions, slops, tools, etc. Mustered the people, and issued bread to them.
At daylight gave out the tools to handle and put in order. Issued half a week's provisions to the whole party. Began work at 10 a.m. to make a pass across the Nepean River; the banks very steep on the east side. In the afternoon issued to the workmen a suit of slops, and a blanket to each man (thirty in number). In examining the slops, two pairs shoes and three pairs trousers were deficient. Gorman, who had charge, states the case had been broken open when he took it out of the Parramatta store. Wrote to his Excellency the Governor for additional bullocks and some small articles of tools. Weather fine, clear, and frosty.
Tuesday. Finished the road down the right bank of the river. The swamp oak on Emu side very hard to cut and root. In the afternoon began our operations on Emu Plains. A complaint being made of the pork, which was issued at 6 lb. pieces, were very deficient. I examined the Commissary's return, which stated there were 53 6 lb. pieces in each cask. Counted the remaining, and found 51 left. Examined the mess book, and found 18 pieces had been issued, making 69 in all, instead of 53. Weighed the 51 pieces, and they weighed 24 lb. over 4 lb. pieces quite, with brine and salt. Ordered Gorman to issue the remainder as 4 lb. pieces until further orders.
Sent the 'smith to Field's to make four new axes and steel two of the English ones. Gave him 20 lb. of iron and 4 lb. of steel. Fine, dry weather.
The 'smith completed laying the axes, and steeled five others. Much trouble to-day with the axes; the timber being hard, they all turned. Kept the grindstone constantly going. Made good progress on Emu Plains; the men worked very well. Weather clear and frosty.
The 'smith steeled two more axes, and made nails of one. The working gangs removed two miles to the south-west on Emu Plains. Wind very high in the afternoon. One of the fellers, W. Lonain, received a hurt in the face and shoulder through the limb of a tree falling on him. Hard frost and clear.
Hard frost and clear weather. Sent all provisions, tools, etc., to a hut on the left bank of the river, which hut is fitted up to receive our provisions as they arrive from Sydney. Gave the blacksmith the tools, iron, steel, etc. Lonain, who was hurt yesterday, much better. I wrote to the Governor for two men's pit-saws, iron, and steel. Examined the ground leading from Emu Plains, and fixed on the spot to cross the creek at, as well as one to begin ascending the mountain. The soldiers with Gorman and Kelly all went for Emu Plains to-day.
Examined the ground and marked the road from the creek to the first depôt (with Lewis). Gave a pound of tobacco to Field for a lot of cabbage, which I gave to the workmen. Purchased 4 cwt. 1 qr. of bran for myself, which I forwarded to the depôt, at 10s per cwt., delivered at Martin's. The workmen exerted themselves during the week, much to my satisfaction.
Finished a crossing-place over the creek, and worked from the creek to the crossing-place where you ascend the mountain. Sent the two carpenters to the depôt to build a tent-hut, and put in order the depôt fit for the receipt of the provisions, etc. Cloudy weather, but dry.
Made a complete crossing-place from the end of Emu Plains to the foot of the mountains, and began to work up them. The ascent is steep; the soil very rough and stony; the timber chiefly ironbark. Sent the stonemason to the depôt to build or line the chimney, as also the 'smith to put up his forge. Sent the superintendent with a man to mark the road from the depôt through the bush to the next forest ground, a distance of about five miles. Ordered the corporal and soldiers to prepare to remove in the morning from the bank of the river to the depôt, with a cartload of provisions, and there to remain until further orders.
Removed the soldiers and provisions from the river to the depôt. Worked up the mountain; measured the ground from the ford in the river to the creek leading from Emu Plains to the mountain, three miles; marked the trees at the end of each mile, at the left side of the road. Removed my caravan from the river to the depôt on the mountain, a distance of five and three-quarter miles and slept there the first night.
Went to Clarendon, and left R. Lewis in charge.
Left Clarendon at 10 a.m., and arrived at the depôt at 2 p.m. Found the road completed to the said depôt, much to my satisfaction.
The workmen go on with much cheerfulness, and do their work well. Gave them a quantity of cabbage as a present. After dinner I gave directions to Lewis to inform Burne he was to take the three forward fellers to fire-making. Soon after he came to me and said he would not receive any orders from Lewis, but would obey any I gave him, on which I told him I should send any orders I had to give to him by whom I pleased. He went away, but soon returned again, and said he would leave, on which I ordered the constable to receive his gun and ammunition, and he went away. Ordered him to be struck off the stores, and informed the party he was discharged from being a superintendent under me, and had nothing more to do with me or them.
Sent the two working gangs, with their bedding, etc., two miles ahead. Heard the report of a gun and soon after heard the chattering of natives, on which they returned and reported the same. Gave notice to the sergeant to provide a corporal and three men to go forward and take up their quarters with the working men. The second pork cask being issued, I found it to contain 74 pieces, on which I had the third cask opened, and the pieces counted by the sergeant and Gorman in my presence. It also contained 74 pieces. Brought the remaining provisions from Emu Plains, and had the store completed, with a lock on the door, etc. The weather fine. Cleared the roads to the entrance to a thick brush two and a-half miles ahead.
Removed the depôt to seven and a-half miles forward, as also the corporal and three privates. Lewis got leave to go to Richmond and return again on Sunday next. The men at work in a very thick, troublesome brush. A fine day, but close. The wind in the evening got round to the south.
Timber both thick and heavy, with a thick, strong brush, the roots of which are very hard to grub up, making it altogether extremely hard work.
Timber and scrub brush the same as yesterday, but got through it this evening, and measured the new road and found we had completed nine miles. Marked the trees at the end of each mile. Went forward, and found a good-sized piece of forest land, with good water, to the right of an intended road about one and a-quarter mile ahead. The men all healthy and cheerful. Mr. Hobby joined me last evening. The people all moved forward to the end of nine miles.
Removed to the nine miles on the road. I sent a man from last camp to the depôt to draw their rations. Wrote to his Excellency the Governor.
Timber and brush very heavy and thick from the ninth to tenth mile. Thos. Kendall ill, unable to work. Mr. Hobby, with R. Lewis, went forward with John Tye about four miles, and marked the trees. Two natives from Richmond joined us; one shot a kangaroo.
Fine weather continues. Good water at seven and a-half miles to the right of the road; about eight and a-half to the left of the road; ditto at four and a-half to left. Good forest ground down in the valley at four and a-half miles to the right. Mr. Evans came to us just before sunset.
Mr. Evans left us for Sydney at 2 p.m. Removed forward to four and a-half miles. The workmen remain a little behind us. Kendall somewhat better, and undertook the cooking for his mess.
Clear weather. The wind very strong from the west, made it dangerous in falling the timber, which is both heavy and thick. Workmen removed 10½ miles. Water to the right of road. The 'smith set up his forge; employed in repairing tools. Mr. Hobby, with Lewis and Tye, went forward six miles and marked the road for the fellers. Gave the people a quantity of cabbage.
Mr. Hobby went to Castlereagh. Fine weather, with cold wind. Gorman reported there was not any meat or sugar, and that he had only 14 4 lb. pieces left in store, and no sugar.
At daylight sent Lewis to the depôt with a letter to Mrs. Cox to send me out immediately 300 lb. of beef to serve to the people in lieu of salt pork. Gave orders to the corporal to send Private Ashford to the depôt, and for Sergeant Bounds to send me Carrol in lieu of him. The former being ill and unfit for the advance party, he has not done any duty this week past. Measured 11 miles this morning, and this evening got through the brush ground, which has given us very hard work since leaving the depôt, the timber being heavy and the brush strong. Gave orders to all hands to remove forward to-morrow morning to the forest ground, about half-a-mile ahead of our work.
Removed to the forest ground. Sent Lewis with a letter for the Governor, informing him we were without meat or sugar.
Fine morning, and, being out of the brush, had six fellers at work. At 9 a.m. arrived a cart from Clarendon with a side of beef 386 lb., 60 cabbages, two bags of corn, etc., for the men.
Fire-making on the 12-mile ridge. Timber very heavy, thick, and long; extremely troublesome to get rid of. Having no sugar, borrowed 40 lb. from Mr. Hobby, and I gave 1 lb. to each man.
Removed forward to a hill ahead of the workmen. Water at 11½ miles to the left; ditto 12 to the right; ditto 12½ to the left; ditto 13½ to the right. At the three first places in very small quantities; at the latter plenty, with a place fit to drive stock to water. The timber on the forest from 11½ miles to 13 very tall and thick. Measured a dead tree which we felled that was 81 ft. to the first branch, and a blood tree 15 ft. 6 in. in circumference. There is some good stringy bark timber in this forest ground.
Wind very high the last two nights, and this evening stormy, but the wind blew off the rain. Measured the 13th mile this evening, and just entered a scrub with stunted timber. Mr. Hobby returned this day. Got 2 lb. of shoemakers' thread from Clarendon, and put Headman, one of our men, to repair shoes during the week. The 'smith employed this week in making and repairing tools and nails for the men's shoes. The stonemason went forward to examine a rocky ridge about three miles ahead, and on Monday next he will go there to work to level them.
At 7 a.m. left the party for Clarendon. Mr. Hobby and Lewis left in charge. Stephen Parker ran a splinter in joint under his ankle; unable to work.
At 10 a.m. arrived at Martin's, where I found the sergeant of the party, he having died the day before. Sent to Windsor to the sergeant commanding there for a coffin and party to bury him at Castlereagh, but Sergeant Ray sent for the corpse to bring it to Windsor. Wrote to the Governor for another sergeant, and sent back Corporal Harris to the depôt, there to remain until relieved. Called at the first depôt at 12; ordered a cask of pork to be opened; counted the pieces in the presence of Gorman, my son Henry, and a soldier; it contained 75 pieces. Arrived at the working party at 2 p.m. Found Mr. Hobby well. The road finished during my absence. Done well. Lewis left the party on Monday last, very ill of a sore throat.
Measured to the 16th mile, immediately after which the ground got very rocky, and in half-a-mile we came to a high mountain, which will cost much labour to make a road over. Got two natives, who promise to continue with us—Joe from Mulgoa and Coley from Richmond.
Removed, with all the people, to a little forward of the 16th mile. (Lewis returned.)
Commenced operations on the mountain, with all the men. Continued the same on Tuesday, except with the fellers, who went forward on the next ridge. Had to remove an immense quantity of rock, both in going up the mountain and on the pass leading to the bluff on the west of it. Examined the high rocks well, and fixed on making a road off it from the bluff instead of winding round it. Began cutting timber and splitting stuff to frame the road on the rock to the ridge below it, about 20ft. in depth. The men worked extremely hard and smart to-day.
SICK LIST, MONDAY.
Sam. Davis, splinter in his hand.
Thos. Kendall, ill from bad cold.
Step. Parker, from sick list to work again.
All hands employed at the bridge.
Retained eight men to work at the bridge. Sent the rest forward road-making. Sent back Walters' bullocks to Emu, and received Myers' team.
Augmented the men at work on the pass at the bridge to 10, both yesterday and to-day. The road finished to Caley's heap of stones, 17¾ miles.
September 4 (Sunday).
Removed forward to the bridge the working road gang. Removed forward to Caley's pile. No water for stock near the bridge, nor a blade of grass. The water we get is near a mile distant, and that in a tremendous gully to the right. Went forward to Caley's pile, and from thence up the rock to Evans' cave you get a view of the country from north-west round to south-west as far as the eye can carry you. From hence the land to the west is still higher. The country to the northwards appears extremely hilly, with nothing but timber and rocks. To the east there appears much level country. Windsor and various parts of cleared land is seen from this.
Davis returned to labour; Kendall to cooking. Appledon ill; splinter in the foot. Set the following persons to the pass and bridge:—Two carpenters, two sawyers, two quarrymen, two cutting timber, and two labourers. 'Smith employed mending tools and making shoe-nails. Shoemaker mending and nailing shoes. The remainder of the men employed in road-making forward, under the direction of Mr. Hobby and R. Lewis. J. Tye got a week's leave on Friday last to go to Windsor. Sent a soldier on Thursday last to the Governor for blocks, augurs, and irons, etc.
All hands employed as before. One extra man brought back to assist at the bridge and pass. Soldier returned from Sydney.
Men at work as yesterday. The wind has been very high and cold from the west since Sunday last, and last night it blew a perfect hurricane. Saw a few flying showers yesterday, but we got scarcely any rain, and it appears the wind will carry it away. The country about here very barren. No kangaroos to be seen. Shot one pheasant, with tail complete; shot two others without tail, It appears to be too early in the season for them, as their tails are just shooting, and others not at full length. Scarcely any small birds to be seen.
September 9 and 10.
Workmen employed as before. The bridge rises very fast, and the quarrymen well on with the stonework.
September 11 (Sunday).
Went three miles forward to examine the road with Mr. Hobby and Lewis. From the bridge it continues rocky over two or three small passes to Caley's pile; from thence, at least two miles further, the mountain is nearly a solid rock. At places high broken rocks; at others, very hanging or shelving, which makes it impossible to make a level, good road. The more the road is used the better it will be.
No person on sick list. Continued with 10 men to get on at the bridge and pass until Thursday, when it was completed all but the hand-rails and battening the planks. Gave orders for six men to pack up and go forward in the morning, leaving to complete the bridge two sawyers and two carpenters, which they expect they will complete in three or four days. Sent forward part of our heavy luggage, and intend removing myself to-morrow. Issued a pair of strong shoes to each man. The bridge we have completed is 80 ft. long, 15 ft. wide at one end and 12 ft. at the other; 35 ft. of it is planked, the remainder filled up with stones. The face from the bluff end of the rock was about 20 ft. before we began to work. At the left there is a side wall cut from the solid rock. At the right, where the ground is lower, we have put up a rough stone wall about 100 ft. long, which makes the pass to the bridge quite a lane. It is steep from the top of the mountain quite to the lower end of the bridge, a distance altogether of about 400 ft. The bridge and pass have cost me the labour of 12 men for three weeks, which time they worked very hard and cheerful. It is now complete—a strong, solid bridge, and will, I have no doubt, he reckoned a good-looking one by travellers that pass through the mountain.
Removed forward; found the road completed to 21 miles. At the latter end of this the ground was completely covered with gum roots. Was obliged to turn all hands to grubbing and finishing the road, and with very hard labour nearly completed the 22nd mile by Saturday night.
September 15 (Sunday).
Went forward to examine the road about three miles ahead. Got on very high ground. The greater part of the scrub burnt here last summer, and the trees also much burnt.
Moved forward, ahead of the cleared road. Went as far as the fire-makers had finished. Shot several small new birds the last week, and also a young cockatoo, quite mottled or cuckoo colour.[A small cuckoo called Gang-gang; the head of male bird pink.] There was one old one and three young ones in company, which are the only ones we have seen of the sort. Ordered Angus to bring forward a load of provisions on Wednesday next. Kept a strong party at the grub hoe.
September 17 to 24.
Kept all hands at road-making, and they did a very good week's work, having completed four miles of good road this week. Removed on Saturday to the 26 mile, being just at the foot of a steep mountain. Examined it well, and found it too steep to ascend in a straight direction.
September 25 (Sunday).
Went up the mountain; examined it, and fixed on the way to make a winding road up. This is the highest mountain on the whole range we cross. From it Windsor houses, etc., are distinctly visible, as are the wheatfields, farmhouses, etc. There is a river running to the east about a mile south of this, the banks of which are so high and steep it is not possible to get down. This river empties itself into the Nepean about four miles higher up than Emu Plains. Went forward to fix on a site for a second depôt.[Cox's River, emptying into the Wollondilly, about 20 miles above Emu Plains.] Chose one about two miles ahead, close to a stream of excellent water. We have found much greater quantities of water these last six miles than we did before, and all very good.
Sent forward two sawyers and two other men to procure the necessary timber, etc., for the second depôt. Set 10 men to work making the road up the mountain. The remainder at work as usual road-making. Sent T. Randall to the Windsor Hospital, sick. P. Handrigan ill with a bad sprained ankle.
Finished the road up the mountain this evening. Made a very good job of it (cost 10 men two days). The ground extremely rough and rocky for about a mile between the high mountain and second depôt.
Worked at the road forward to the second depôt, where we removed on Thursday morning. The rocky ground we had to pass over was very troublesome, being obliged to turn out of the road a very large quantity of stone, it being too hard to break with sledge-hammers.
Began on Friday to put up the building for the second depôt. The situation is very pleasant, being on a ridge high enough in the front (which is due east) to overlook the standing timber altogether, and at the back there is a considerable quantity of ground without a tree, and a rivulet of fine spring water running through it. On this ground there is the grass tree and other coarse food, which the bullocks eat and fill themselves pretty well. The building for the store is 17 x 12, with 3 ft. sides, gable-ended, all weatherboards, and a door on the east end. Got well on with it this evening; finished on the 8th inst. Cost me eight men, six days. It is just 28 miles from Emu ford.*
[* The site of the old Weatherboard Inn, now Wentworth Falls.]
Sick list: Handrigan, Lowe, sprained ankle. Several men have bad colds, but none laid up. Sawyers, carpenters, and 'smith are at work at the depôt. The remainder gone forward, road-making. Went forward to see the workmen. At the 29th mile is a very handsome long reach, quite straight, which I call, from the layer of it out, "Hobby's Reach." Finished the road this evening to the 30th mile. The carpenters getting well on with the depôt. Nothing left to be done but weather-boarding part of the roof. Sent Walters to the first depôt to bring forward the sergeant and Gorman to the second depôt. Gave charge of all the bullocks to Walters, and ordered Cryer to labour for his bad management and inattention to the bullocks. There are many large emmets, or ant-hills, in this part of the mountain. I measured one at the 26 miles, of a sugarloaf shape; it was 6 ft. high, and 20 ft. round at the bottom. S. Parker laid up with a cold today. The blacksmith employed in steeling axes and grub hoes, and repairing tools; at other times making nails for the second depôt. At 5 p.m. my servant arrived with horses from Clarendon, and to-morrow morning at 7 o'clock intend returning there, leaving the party under the direction of Mr. Hobby and R. Lewis. Wrote to the Governor to inform him of my going, stating to him my arrangements, etc., I had made.
Having made my arrangements, etc., at Clarendon and Mulgoa with respect to my sheep and ensuing harvest, and attended his Excellency the Governor at the muster, I left Clarendon on Saturday afternoon in a single horse chaise, and slept at Castlereagh.
October 23 (Sunday).
At half-past 5 this morning left Rev. Mr. Fulton's. Remained two hours at the first and second depôts to examine the stores, and make arrangements for forwarding the provisions, etc., for the people; and at 6 p.m. came up with the working party at the 39th mile, to which place the road was completed, having finished, during my absence of two weeks and four days, nine miles. Found Mr. Hobby and all the party in good health. On Monday morning Mr. H. returned in my chaise to the Nepean for a week or 10 days, and for want of grass I also sent back my saddle-horse, to Clarendon. On Sunday evening R. Lewis returned from the end of the mountain, about 10 miles forward, having been with three men to examine the mountain that leads down to the forest ground. His report is that the descent is near half-a-mile down, and extremely sharp; that it is scarcely possible to make a road down; and that we cannot get off the mountain to the north to make a road; that it appears to him much more difficult, now he has examined the hill, to get down than he was before aware of.
Set all hands to work road-making, including blacksmith, carpenter, stonemasons, etc;, being extremely anxious to get forward and ascertain if we can descend the mountain to the south before we get to the end of the ridge.
Tuesday and Wednesday the men continued the same work, and getting on extremely well. Wrote to the Governor for a further supply of gunpowder, to enable us to blow up the rocks in our way; as also rope and blocks, to expedite us in building bridge and getting off the mountain.
Monday and Tuesday, wind at east, with cold showers.
Wednesday, at west, blowing very high and cold.
Wind at east; very cold, with rain. All hands working only half a day.
Removed forward to 42nd mile. Wind south, with constant rain. No work done, except the cobbler mending shoes. Sent the cart back to the second depôt for rations. Two other horse carts employed in bringing forward provisions from first and second depôts, which they appear to do very slowly. Heard nothing of the bullock cart belonging to Walters.
October 30 (Sunday).
Rain until about 5 o'clock in the evening. Wind at south-west. Blankets belonging to the men very wet and uncomfortable.
The weather appears to have broken up. All hands went to work at half-past 5 a.m. The men removed to the 44th mile this day. The high, short ridge of mountains seen from Windsor was this day observed at 43¼ miles, bearing north, 60deg. east, distant about eight miles. A table rock seen by us from the rocks near Caley's pile to our right, and from all high lands since, was observed to-day, bearing east-north-east, distant about two miles. Two parties of natives are seen on the low lands to the west. One within two miles of us; the other about six miles.
Fair weather. Three persons sent to examine the mountain to the left, to find a place to make a road down to the forest ground. Returned unsuccessful.
Fine morning. Thunder, with light showers. Sent three men again to examine the descent of the mountain, and ascertained that there is no other way but from the bluff originally marked. To-morrow I intend going to survey it, as a road must be made to get off the mountain.
At 6 this morning went forward with Lewis, Tye, and a soldier to examine the mountain at the end of the ridge—four miles. Found it much worse than I expected. It commences with going down steep between immense large boulders, when it opens with a very steep gully in front, and towards the left it falls off so steep that it is with much difficulty a person can get down at all. The whole front of the mountain is covered with loose rock, at least two-thirds of the way down; and on the right and left it is bounded both by steep gullies and rocks, so that we cannot, by winding short to the left, get half length sufficient to gain ground to get down without a number of circular turns both to right and left, and in that case the hill is so very steep about half-a-mile down that it is not possible to make a good road to go down and up again without going to a very great expense. I have, therefore, made up my mind to make such a road as a cart can go down empty or with a very light load without a possibility of its being able to return with any sort of load whatever; and such a road will also answer to drive stock down to the forest ground. After getting down this said mountain, we got into very pretty forest ground, and went as far as Blaxland's rivulet, about two miles. The grass on it is generally of a good quality—some silky; some hard, intermingled with rib grass, buttercup and thistle. Timber thin, and kangaroos—plenty. In returning back, we had to clamber up the mountain, and it completely knocked me up. It is a very great drawback to the new country, as no produce can be brought from thence to headquarters, except fat bullocks or sheep. The sheep also will be able to bring their fleeces up, and be shorn on the mountains, or driven to the second depôt for the purpose. In either case, waggons can fetch the wool. Gorman came forward with a cartload of provisions. From him I learnt that Walters had got some fresh Government bullocks at the first depôt, but that he could not harness them—they were so wild. Sent another man down to assist him. Also sent a man to bring up the remainder of the bullocks that are unable to work from lameness or poverty, to get them down the mountain, where there is good feed. The Government bullocks have not carried a single load of anything for me since Sunday week last. Made an agreement with Sergeant Minehan and another man for their horse and cart to remain with us until we have performed the whole of our work, and the sergeant went to the Hawkesbury for them. T. Tindall received a hurt in his arm from the fall of a tree. Removed all hands this morning to 45½ miles. Put up the forge for the blacksmith to repair all tools for the Herculean mountain. Issued to all hands a gill of spirits.
Sent three men to examine all the ridges and gullies to the north, offering a reward if they found a better way down. All returned unsuccessful. Removed to 47 miles.
Wind to the east; rain and cold. All hands employed on the road. The blacksmith made eight pikes for self-defence against the natives. Lewis and a party took the dogs down to the forest ground. Killed a fine kangaroo; weighs about 120 lb. Examined the big mountain, and fixed on the spot where to begin on Monday, having given up all thoughts of attempting it elsewhere. J. Manning sprained his ankle in bringing up a keg of water from the rocks below. T. Raddock ill; believe it arises from the wet weather. There is timber here, which appears to bear all the property of the ash in its young state. It is easily transplanted, as the sprouts are like the white thorn. It grows quickly, tall and straight, bends to anything. When large it splits well, and will, I have no doubt, make: very good hoops. In its appearance it is like the black butt, but the leaves are unlike. The bark ties much better than stringy bark. In falling the timber trees it cut remarkably free, and in order to try it I cut a small one down, and quartered it, which I mean to send to Clarendon and try them for light cart or chaise shafts.
Rain in morning; began to clear up about noon. Received a letter from the Government, dated 2nd. Sent S. Davis to Sydney with a letter to the Governor at 2 p.m. to bring up powder and spirits.
Mr. Hobby joined me this morning. At 6 a.m. went forward with 10 men to commence operations for a road down the mount. Light rain and heavy fogs.
Employed the same hands in the same manner. Light rain as before. The men very wet and uncomfortable, their clothes and bedding being also wet.
Removed to the extreme end of the mountain with the whole of the party. The rocks here are so lofty and undermined that the men will be able to sleep dry, and keep their little clothing dry also, which is what they have been unable to do this last fortnight. Left 12 men to finish up the road; the rest employed with myself. Cold rain set in about, noon. Wind S.W.
Raining; cleared up at 9 o'clock. Got a good day's work done. Evening fine and starlight.
Rain commenced before daylight, and continued the whole day. Wind S. and very cold. Sent T. Raddock to Windsor, being very ill. S. Freeman, the carpenter, laid up with a cold and swollen face. Jas. Dwyer ill; pain in side and breast. Sent two carts to the second depôt for provisions. Sent three men with the dogs to catch kangaroos three times this week. Brought one home every day. The bullock driver, with 11 bullocks joined me yesterday. All they have done this last fortnight has been to bring in one bag of biscuits from the first depôt to this place (43 miles). Ordered the bullocks down the mountain to the forest ground, where I intend letting them remain to recover themselves until we remove forward towards the Fish River. One of them is quite blind. He got into the gully going down, but we got him out to-day safe.
Very fine day. Wind east and cold. Completed the road to the beginning of the large mountain, which we have to descend to the forest ground. Measured it up; it is 28 miles 50 chains. Continued to clear away the timber and rubbish through the large rocks, and to the beginning of the bluff end of the mountain. Two men on the sick list.
Went down to the forest ground; from thence on to the rivulet, and traced it to the river, about five miles down. Went one mile down the river and came back on the high lands, exploring the best ground for a road. The grass on the greater part of the land we went over to-day is good. The timber thin. The ground is hilly, but sound; some parts near the rivulet and river is rocky, but no iron stone, it being rather of a sandy soil, and very good pasture for sheep. The ground on the other side of the rivulet appears also to be equally good for feed, thinly timbered, and very hilly, with good grass clear up to the rocks. The river runs nearly east, and must, from its course, empty itself into the Nepean River. The horse carts arrived to-day from the second depôt. They brought very small loads indeed. Ordered two of the carts to go to-morrow to the first depôt, and to return here again on Sunday next loaded. Saw the working bullocks this morning. They are improving quite fast. Mustered the whole of the tools, harness, &c.; found nearly all right. Ground the axes and put the grub hoes and picks in order to begin to-morrow. Ordered Gorman to issue 4 lbs. biscuit and 3 lbs. flour for each mess, instead of 6 lbs. each, the biscuits running short, and being also too bulky to bring so far, being 90 miles from head-quarters.
Sick list: F. Dwyer, cold, pains in limbs; S. Freeman, cold and swelled face; S. Crook, cold, bad eyes; V. Hanragan, cold, pains in limbs; S. Walters, hurt by bullock. The extreme wet weather we had for a fortnight before we arrived here has given most of the men colds, but as they are now dry lodged, and, in addition to their large ration, have fresh kangaroo at least three times a week, it is to be hoped they will soon recover. So many men sick, and chiefly very useful ones, breaks in on our working party much, and the continuous rain also prevents so much work being done as I could wish. Fine morning; at noon thunder, with rain and hail. Wind east; very cold. Steady rain all the evening. Got on erecting the bridge at the beginning of the descent off the mountain, and blowing up the rocks that are in the line of our intended road down to the forest. Find is [sic] difficult work, and it will cost us much labour.
Five men sick. Sent Mr. Hobby, with Lewis and Tye, to trace a ridge that leads to the river a little below Blaxland's rivulet, it being my wish to cross the river in preference to crossing the rivulet twice. The report was favourable, but the water being too high they could not cross. I intend going myself the first fine day I can leave the work. Got on well with our work on the mountain. Fixed two large trees as side pieces—one 45, the other 50 ft. long. Fine weather; wind east, thunder, no rain.
Dwyer and Cook returned to labour. Sullivan laid up, sick. Most beautiful morning. Thunder at noon and in the evening, with showers. Got a very good day's work done. The rocks cut extremely hard, and cost us much labour. Sent Lewis and Tye back to the 37 miles to see a working bullock left there three weeks since. Found it in so bad a state from sore feet and unable to walk that they killed it.
Sick list: Freeman, Walters, Sullivan. Fine day. Worked on the front of the mountain. The ground extremely hard, and very large rocks as we dig into it. Some we blow up, but the greater part we turn out with long levers and crowbars. Kept six men cutting and blowing up rocks, two splitting posts and rails, and it is as much as the 'smith can do to keep their tools in order.
Hard at work on the rocks this day. Kept our six pickaxes at work; and W. Appledon (a sailor) fixed the blocks and tackle to trees, and got a most capital purchase to turn out an immense large rock at the side of the mountain in the way of our road, which he performed well. Two men received slight hurts in doing it by one of the purchases slipping (J. Tindall and T. Adams). This rock would have cost me at least 51b. of powder to have blown it up. Two carts arrived with provisions, and brought a supply of gunpowder and a keg of spirits.
Sick list: S. Freeman, S. Walters, T. Davis, J. Finch, T. Adams, J. Tindall. Fine morning. Work as on Friday. At 5 p.m. heavy thunder, with hail and rain, continued about two hours. Sent the sergeant with a two-horse cart to the second depôt to bring away Gorman and the remainder of the stores. Discharged six men, with three carts and six horses, from the mountain work, namely, J. Crowley, J. Toone, M. Bryan, S. Stanley, S. Whitney, P. Hoddrigoddy.
November 20 (Sunday).
At 7 a.m. went with Mr. Hobby, Lewis, and Tye to examine the rivulet, river, and ground as far as Blaxland's Mountain, to find out the best passage across the water, as also to mark the road to it. After going on different ridges and examining the crossing-places, we got to the foot of the mountain at noon, where we remained an hour and refreshed. Immediately after leaving it we crossed a small swamp to look at another ridge, when my horse got stuck in a bog, and plunged until he fell. I received no hurt, but got wet through. Pulled off my clothes, wrung them, and left them in the sun an hour, when they were tolerably dry. Crossed the lower rivulet on our return just at the junction, in doing which Mr. Hobby's horse stumbled and threw him into the water, which from the last heavy rains was quite rapid. Came from thence back on the north side of the rivulet, and crossed three miles from thence up. The ground on this side is better for feed than any we have seen. It is extremely hilly; the timber thin; the ground perfectly sound, intermixed in places with large loose rocks, and the sort of grass fit for cattle and sheep. It is also very well watered, as stock can go to almost any part of the rivulet to drink. The crossing-places over the river are so encumbered with rock, and the access to it from the hilly ground on each side so bad, that I did not fix on a crossing-place on it, but intend having both rivulets well examined the ensuing week. Came back at 6 p.m., completely knocked up from fatigue. Late in the evening violent gusts of wind, with three or four hours' rain.
Thick, misty morning. All hands at work on the mountain. At 10 a.m. it began to thunder and rain. About noon it increased, and continued the whole day, at times very heavy. Only four hours work done this day. Issued to all hands yesterday afternoon a gill of spirits each.
Thick, moist morning. The sick list reduced to one (S. Davis). All hands again on the mountain. Light rain and heavy fogs during the day, but the men continued out and did a good day's work. Turned out a great number of very large rocks this day; blew up one. The ground as we dig discovers many more rocks than we expected.
Cloudy morning, with a very cold wind, east-south-east. Cleared up at noon, and continued fine the rest of the day. T. Cook and J. Ross sick. Sent two carts to Emu Plains, with three horses and the sergeant and two men, to bring a load of flour from Martin's. Sent Gorman with them, and he took six weeks' provisions for two of the soldiers that are to be left at the first depôt. The other soldier ordered to return here with the carts. Sent J. Tye, with a soldier and another man, to re-mark the trees from the second rivulet to the Fish River, a distance of about 20 miles from hence, and gave him directions to return by a ridge of high land that bears, as we suppose, from within three miles of the Fish River back to Mount Blaxland, it being my wish to make the road on that line, if practicable. They took each a week's rations with them.
Sick: T. Cook, J. Ross, J. Finch (pains in his back and limbs from wet and cold). Close morning, but dry weather until 5 p.m., when it mizzled, and continued so all the evening. Wind southeast, and cold. The men did a very good day's work. Turned out of the road an immense quantity of rock, which was handsomely veined, very like marble. The bullocks having been missing since Sunday last, sent Lewis to look after them. He returned, but could not find them. There is a handsome shrub here, very like the laylock. It grows larger, but is a pretty flower. The stems of them make good walking-sticks.
Sick list as yesterday. Wet, drizzly morning. At 10 a.m. it rained so hard as to break off the men from work. Took up a little again at 2 p.m. Turned out the men again, and continued to work until sunset. Light rain all the afternoon. Harder rain in the evening. Wind south-south-east, quite cold.
Issued to all hands one pair of trousers each. The stone on the mountain is uncommon hard, and flinty. Cuts extremely bad, and some of it will not split. We have been fortunate in turning out very large solid rocks 2 ft. thick without breaking them, and we have used but little powder this week. Light rain the whole day. Wind east-south-east; blowing very hard at times, and quite cold. The men kept out at work the greater part of the day, but so much wet and for so long a time makes them quite cheerless. The working bullocks not having been seen these 10 days, sent Lewis again after them, and found them up a valley three miles away, east-north-east. Ordered the bullock driver to repair the harness, and be prepared to set off with a strong team to-morrow for Emu Plains, to bring us a load of provisions. Sick list as yesterday; Cook and Ross getting better. Finch much worse. Carpenter got 100 posts split and 200 rails for fencing the road down the mountain.
November 27 (Sunday).
Heavy rain all night, and until 9 this morning, when it became lighter, but continued raining until 1 o'clock, when it began to clear up. Issued one pair of shoes to each man. German arrived at 8 this morning with an account that Allen's horse was knocked up and returned to Emu Plains, and that he did not expect the other two horses would bring more than two small casks of flour. Sent the bullock cart, with two men and five bullocks, to Emu Plains for a load of provisions, and ordered Gorman to see it safely loaded at Martin's. In this cart I sent J. Finch, who was very ill, and anxious to return to the Nepean. At 5 p.m. J. Tye and his party returned from the Fish River. They brought some fish with them, which proved to be rock cod, weighing about 5 lb. each. They report the waters to be very high, and that it has rained constantly from Wednesday evening until a few hours since, in consequence of which they could not examine the ridge which I suppose leads towards the river, but returned the same way they went, which is by no means favourable for a road, on account of hills and valleys. During their stay at the river they caught 10 fish, and state that had the water not run so strong they would have caught as many as they pleased. Quite a fine, clear evening.
A clear, beautiful morning. All hands out at work at 5 o'clock. At 5 p.m. turned cloudy, and we had a dirty evening, but got a good day's work done. At noon the sergeant and Frost returned from Emu ford with their horses and one cart, bringing two casks of flour, of 336 lb. each. Allen's horse got stung by something, and was left behind. T. Adams sick; has a strong fever on him. The stonemason completed the rock a little below the bridge. It has cost us 10 blasts of powder and great labour to get rid of it.
A dirty morning. Got a tree 55 ft. long and 9 ft. in circumference by the men in the woods into his place as a side piece below the bridge, and joining the rock, which is the last we want for this job. Men stuck very hard picking and grubbing the rocks and forming the road. Fine evening.
A fine day; thunder at noon, but no rain. Men working as yesterday, and got a very good day's work done. The rock picks extremely hard. Sick list: T. Adams, P. Hanley, S. Parker, T. Watkins.
Mr. Hobby and Lewis again examined the river to find a proper place for a bridge that can be got at from a main ridge we discovered about two miles from the valley below. They found two places and marked back the best one they can find, according to the orders they last evening received.
Sent a soldier with letters, etc., to his Excellency the Governor. At 2 p.m. Gorman came here from Emu Plains. Reports that he left one bullock cart, with two casks of flour, at the 15-mile yesterday. Also reports that there are two Government teams at Martin's, and, the water being too high for them to cross at the ford, they refused to swim the bullocks over to come here with the provisions without a written order from me. Sent down to the forest to get a Government horse. They searched until night, but could not find it. Directed Gorman to remain until the morning. Fine day. Work went on cheerily. Sick: Parker, Hanley, Watkins, and Appledon.
At daybreak sent the men to look after the horses; returned at 10, without seeing them. Sent Gorman to Emu ford on foot, 50 miles, with written order to have the bullocks swam across the Nepean and come forward, and for him to return again as soon as he saw the carts loaded, and as far as the first depôt. At 2 p.m. Tye and the soldier returned. They report unfavourably, and say we cannot go on either of the ridges pointed out, and that we must cross the valley by Blaxland's Mountain. A fine day. Men worked extremely hard on the mountain to finish a road on the second circle, to admit my caravan to come down to-morrow. Sick list: Watkins and Appledon. Fowler, scurvy in his leg. Two men out all day to look after the horses; returned unsuccessful.
December 4 (Sunday).
About 10 o'clock last night the bullock cart arrived from Emu ford, bringing two large casks of flour and some odd tools that had been left at the first and second depôts. In the absence of Gorman, Mr. Hobby and Lewis issued the rations and delivered over the remainder of the provisions in charge of the sergeant, with a written list, and also ordered two soldiers to sleep under the rock where it is deposited. At 10 a.m. removed the caravan and cart down to the valley at the foot of the mountain. Took them down by men, the road not being finished sufficient for horses or cattle to draw on it. At 2 p.m. removed 18 chains forward to a valley about two miles where there is water. The bullock cart took the provisions, etc., forward. At 3 p.m. the horses were brought back by Sullivan and two others. They look very well. Gave the promised reward—half-a-pint of spirits. Mr. Hobby and myself immediately mounted and gave directions where the men are to begin to-morrow, under the charge of Watson. He is to put on six fellers, six fire-makers, and five cleaners up the road. Went on to the river, and fixed on the spot to make the first bridge. There is a most beautiful ridge, near three miles long, that leads direct to the spot. Could not see any timber near the place fit for it. Issued to all hands a gill of spirits each. In the evening wind shifted to the west. At 7 it began to rain. At 8 it came on very heavy, and rained nearly all night.
Very cold, windy morning, with light rain in showers. Put the remainder of the men to work at the mountain, which I expect they will complete by Saturday. Wrote to Rev. M. Cartwright to send two of the gaol gang to cut and house Tindall's wheat (about three acres) at the Nepean. He has a large family, and it is his all. He could not allow himself to go in, as many others would fancy they were entitled to the same indulgence. Went on to the fellers in the morning. The timber being thin, they got on well. Attended the gang on the mountain in the afternoon. Weather very cold. Wind west; showers of sleet and hail at 5 p.m. At 8 thunder and lightning; no rain; and a fine, clear evening.
Beautiful, clear morning. Brought a cask of pork and two bars of iron down the mountain to carry forward. Removed after breakfast with the caravan, horse, and bullock cart to the junction of the two rivers, about six miles. Examined the river and rivulet up and down, and fixed on a spot over each as being less trouble and more convenient than making one bridge over the river, the obstacles to the latter being more rocks on the ground between the river and high land, and also the ascent up the hill is much steeper and worse ground for a road Sent the bullock cart back to the mountain to bring a load of provisions to-morrow. A fine day.
Cloudy morning; wind south. At 11 a.m. the bullock cart brought four casks of flour from the mountain. Gorman came from Emu ford, and brought a new chart from the Fish River to Bathurst Plains, with the Governor's despatches. Brought word that the two Government carts were on the road with provisions, and that they had taken the whole from Martin's except two casks of pork. Directed the sergeant to go back to the second depôt with a two-horse cart to-morrow morning for provisions, and also to impress one of the Parramatta carts at the second depôt to bring a load on to the mountain. Showers began at noon. At 6 p.m. rained heavily, and continued all the evening.
Heavy rain during the night, but a fine, clear morning. Sent 12 men making and bringing up the road from the mountain to the river, under charge of Mr. Hobby. Left 12 men to finish the road down the mountain, under charge of R. Lewis. J. Tye returned last evening, making the road 10 miles ahead. Finished the road this evening from the mountain to the river. Measured down the mountain to the valley to the 50th mile from the ford. Here I drop this reckoning and commence from the 50th mile to the west, and which is 5 miles 10 chains to the bridge on the east branch of a river running to the east not yet named. A fine, clear day.
Fine day; wind west. Afternoon hot and sultry. All hands employed at the first bridge before breakfast. At 9 a.m. took all hands to the second bridge, and before dinner got one of the side pieces, 45 ft. long, about 100 yards down the river, and fixed it in its place without accident. The other side piece we got by falling a tree across the river, about 60 ft. long, and that was also fixed. After dinner gave all hands a gill of spirits. Several of the men appear to be inclined to give in and shirk work, the greater part of whom, in my opinion, are quite as well as myself. Gave them a reproof in earnest, which I expect will make them all well by to-morrow. A cart arrived on the mountain with stores.
Fine day; wind west. Finished the bridge over the east branch, 22 ft. long, 13 ft. wide. Carpenters, etc., made a good, strong job of it. The working bullocks strayed, and not found till sunset. Sick: P. Hanragan, J. Tindall, H. Morton. Ordered six married men to go back to the mountain to finish the road down it to the valley. When done, they are to be discharged—S. Parker, J. Ross, J. Tindall, P. Hanragan, P. Marman, and J. Watkins. Also ordered J. Wilson to go forward on Monday with nine others road-making.
December 11 (Sunday).
At 6 a.m. sent six men back to the mountain to complete the road. At 7 sent 10 men forward to encamp at Blaxland's Mountain, under Watson's charge. Set out on horseback, with Mr. Hobby and Lewis (J. Tye and a soldier having previously gone), to go as far as the Fish River to examine the ground for a road. After passing Mount Blaxland we ascended a high ridge, and found it still continue to ascend until we got extremely high. Continued on until noon, and found the ground very unfavourable for a road, when I made up my mind to return by the route Mr. Evans laid down on his chart; but, to my great surprise, found it impracticable to make a road even for a horse. I, therefore, returned, and examined all the ridges and valleys for several miles, and got back at sunset extremely fatigued and much disappointed. The land between the river and Mount Blaxland is very favourable for grazing—a light, sound soil, and good sort of grass, thinly timbered, and well watered. This appears a tract of about 10 miles long, and probably, on the average, five miles wide, of good grazing ground. Westward it is not as good. Again, the hills to the south I have not been on; those to the north again become rocky. The hills to the west, north, and south are extremely high and difficult of access, but in many of them the feed is good to the highest part.
Sick list: P. Heningham, J. Allen, H. Martin, and R. Hanley. Men at work getting timber, etc., for the bridge, the greater part of which we are obliged to get down the river by the men, six of whom were in the water nearly all day. Gave these men a gill of spirits each. Got a good day's work done. At 6 p.m. a violent thunderstorm, with wind, lightning, and heavy rain, which lasted till 9 o'clock.
Mr. Hobby went forward to Blaxland's Mountain to superintend the 10 men ahead in roadmaking. Got on well to-day with the work at the bridge. Gave the men who worked in the water a gill of spirits.
Yesterday afternoon a Parramatta cart and the sergeant's cart brought forward the remainder of the provisions from the mountain, leaving there two soldiers and the six men finishing the job. A fine day. Men worked well at the bridge. The bullocks employed in drawing timber for the bridge. Detained the Parramatta team and men, and put them on my store until further orders. Ordered the three carts that I have to be taken over the bridge at daylight, and also to get over casks of provisions, to load them on that side the river (the bridge not being finalised), and to proceed with their loads to Blaxland's Mountain, under Gorman's charge, where Mr. Hobby's party is at work.
Loaded the three carts, and sent them forward at 6 a.m. At 7 a.m. went forward myself, and came up with the party at the 10-mile, to which they had completed the road, except turning some rock out of it after you ascend the hill at Blaxland's Mountain. Returned at 10, and sent forward three men with crowbars, pickaxes, etc., to complete the road, and remain with the party ahead. J. Allen very ill; ordered him back from Mr. Hobby's party to mine. At 1 p.m. one of the party at the mountain came to report they had finished their task. Sent Lewis back to examine it, and found it completed. Gave them their discharge (six men), and sent a cart with them as far as the Nepean, to carry their bedding. A dull, heavy day, with light rain in the afternoon. Men worked well at the bridge and causeway to it.
Cloudy morning, with light rain; broke up at 2, and continued fine. At 7 sent two bullock carts, with provisions, etc., under Gorman's charge, to the party ahead. Sent the sergeant back to the mountain to bring forward the tools, and also the two soldiers stationed there. At 2 p.m. finished the bridge over the west branch of the river, 45 ft. long, 14 ft. wide. It is a good, strong job. There is also a causeway on each side to the high lands, which is filled up with stone and covered with earth. One of the side pieces is an oak tree, with girth of 9 ft. at least 6 ft. above where it was fallen, and was good 50 ft. long. I never saw such a tree of that sort before. Sent the carpenter and five men forward to join Mr. Hobby's party, and intend breaking up from here to-morrow with the soldiers and remaining party. The carpenter worked remarkably well while at this job.
Loaded the two bullock carts, etc., at 6 a.m., and sent them forward to Mr. Hobby's camp. Sent Lewis back to find the six bullocks we had feeding in the valley near the mountain, and to bring them forward to us. At 7 a.m. broke up quarters at the bridge, and joined Mr. Hobby at 9. Measured up the work to the 12th mile (except two small bridges left to make at 11½ miles), where we encamped. Began falling the timber with the carpenter and two other men for these small bridges. Tasked the people for next week's work, and selected 14 men to go forward road-making, the remainder to be at my quarters. J. Allen continues very ill; the other persons much recovered. At 6 p.m. a thunderstorm, with about an hour's rain.
At half-past 7 went forward on horseback to examine the road from hence to the Fish River. Found the country very hilly and rocky in many places. There are also two other small bridges to make before we get there. Took Mr. Hobby, J. Tye, and three others with me; caught some fish, and dined on the banks of the river. Fixed on the road, except going up the hill, which must be avoided, if possible. Returned at 6 p.m. It being a clear, fine day, we had fine views to the north and west from a high hill. Saw some plains without timber to the west, but in general the whole country around is extremely hilly, and apparently fair grazing land. Lewis brought the bullocks forward to us this day.
At work very hard on the bridges, and got on well. The day extremely clear and hot. At 3 p.m. had a violent thunderstorm, with small rain for about an hour. Evening fine again, though close and sultry. Found a way to avoid the high hill we were over yesterday, and marked the ground for a road.
At 10 ordered the sergeant to take J. Allen, who continued to get worse, back 25 miles, where there was another cart and horse to relieve him. To my surprise, he made such frivolous objections as I did not like, and when I went to know if he was getting ready, he said neither his horse or himself had shoes; but if he was ordered, he must go. I immediately ordered the Parramatta cart to return, and at 12 he set off, taking the sick man, and J. Hoddy in charge of Allen, to see him safe to the Nepean. Ordered the sergeant to be ready to set off in the morning to the first depôt to relieve Corporal Harris, who is to come here. A hot, sultry afternoon. At 6 had heavy thunder and lightning, but no rain. Finished the woodwork of the largest bridge, and got on well with the other; but in consequence of Kelly, our Parramatta bullock driver, going in, sent forward to Mr. Hobby to send me two labourers back this evening, to enable me to finish all here to-morrow. A very cloudy, close evening, with lightning to the south-west; wind north all day.
At 6 a.m. the sergeant went off to the first depôt with written instructions for his guidance there. Finished both bridges this afternoon, and removed all hands one mile and a-half on, where there is another bridge to build. One of the bridges is 15 over, the other 10 ft. There is a great deal of work done here by the spade, the ground being very hanging and awkward. It is now a good job.
Heavy thunder and lightning at 10 last night. Finished the bridge this day by 3 o'clock. It is 12 ft., and well finished. Removed one mile and a-half at 3, where we are brought up again by another run of water. Set to work on a bridge, and got all the large timber in its place before dark. Thunder, with showers, from 5 till dark. Had a fish brought this evening of about 4 lb. from the river. Worked the bullocks very hard yesterday and to-day, but am still behind-hand with getting our provisions, tools, etc., forward. Wind west.
Much thunder and lightning, with extreme heavy rain, from midnight till 3 o'clock. At 10 a.m. a Parramatta constable arrived here with the Governor's despatches dated Tuesday evening. At noon, having finished the bridge, removed about half-a-mile forward, and began another bridge. At 4 p.m. it began to thunder again, and continued until night with light showers. H. Morton received a hurt in his leg from a large log. Wrote to the Governor by the constable who brought the despatches. Bullocks brought four men from yesterday's camp to this. We are now 15½ miles. On account of the Parramatta team being sent in, we are obliged to get the timber for the last six bridges by the men.
Thick, misty morning; cleared up at 10, and continued fine the whole day. Finished a very good bridge at 1 o'clock. Went on after dinner half-a-mile, and began another bridge. This bridge required great labour to fill it in with timber at the ends before the earth was put on, as the ground was swampy from springs. The constable set off at 6 this morning; the distance is 90 miles. Went forward this afternoon to ascertain if I could get my caravan with safety to the Fish River, and have given orders to strike tents and pack up in the morning. Sick list: H. Morton, hurt in the leg; carpenter, very bad hands. T. French returned yesterday from the Hawkesbury, and left his cart on the road, his horse having knocked up. Bullocks brought two tons from the two bridge camps.
December 25 (Sunday).
Cloudy morning, with light rain until 9 o'clock. The Christmas Day continued dull throughout, with a south wind. At 8 a.m., after serving out the rations, went forward to the Fish River, and removed the caravan and one cartload there, where I pitched my tent, leaving three bridges to make and five miles of road. It being Christmas Day, issued to the men a gill of spirits and a new shirt each. Examined the river to find the best place to cross it, and fixed on a spot about 10 chains below where Mr. Evans crossed. The timber appears to be bad and scarce about here. Cannot find any for sawing. The land on both sides of the river extremely hilly, and awkward for road-making.
Cloudy morning, with a south wind. At 8 a.m. sent T. Frost to Clarendon for a good cart horse, to prevent delay after we cross the river. Brought four men forward to get the materials for the bridge. Also put up the forge, to repair the tools, they being much out of order. The remainder left behind. Afternoon cold, with showers.
Cloudy morning; wind east-south-east. Quite cold, which prevented our catching any fish during the day. At 9 a.m. crossed the river for the first time with Mr. Hobby, J. Tye, and a soldier and one man to look at the ground a few miles to the west over the hills, to ascertain the best place for a road. Went over the hills, bearing to the south of west, and found it favourable for road-making. Continued going west until we came to a valley bearing north-west, where the grass was so good that I followed it till we came to the river in about an hour. The grass in this valley was the best and thickest on the ground I have yet seen in this colony. We made the river at a spot where a small stream falls into it from north-north-east, about two miles below Evans' Mountain, to the west. During our journey this day we saw six kangaroos, a flock of 11 emus, wild ducks and pigeons, but for want of dogs killed none. At 6 p.m. returned, and reached the river quite tired.
Cloudy, unsettled morning; Wind east-south-east, and cold. Sent two soldiers to mark some trees across the river on a ridge to the west that I saw yesterday. The two carpenters came forward this morning, having finished the last bridge on the road from the mountain to this place (10 in number). Lewis reports the men getting on well at the road, but that they will not complete it to this place before Saturday. Gave directions for a party to be ready to go on a few days' journey to-morrow by 2 p.m. with me to Campbell's River, consisting of Mr. Hobby, Lewis, Tye, Watson, and two soldiers. The distance down the river is 40 miles; in a direct line west, about 21 miles.
A fine morning, which the birds seem most to enjoy on the banks of the river. The shrubs and flowers also are extremely fragrant. Left six men preparing materials for the bridge across the main river. The remainder at work bringing up the road. Gorman came forward this morning at 10 o'clock with the small stores, etc., and has charge here during my absence. Sent two soldiers as a guard. The party going forward are all preparing, and are to cross the river at 12 precisely. Wrote to his Excellency the Governor with the proceedings down to this period, but shall not send it away until my return from the western excursion.
On Thursday, at noon, crossed the river, and after proceeding up the hill bent our course west as near as the land would allow. At half-past 1 made Emu Valley. We here started six kangaroos, killed two, and stopped an hour. At three and a-half got to very fine grazing ground. In 20 minutes after crossed Sidmouth Valley, a most beautiful one; then over the hills, west, until 5, when we came to a dry creek. This ground about three miles over is very fine. Steered north-north-west, and in three-quarters of an hour made a ford on the river, about seven miles due west from our crossing-place, where we remained for the night. Started a kangaroo half-a-mile before we got in, which we killed. At half-past 4, Friday morning, started steering due west. At 6 crossed O'Connell's Plains, and at 7 stopped on a point of the river to breakfast. Saw six or eight wild turkeys, and as many kangaroos; one of the latter we killed. At 9 set off again west-north-west, about three miles; then north-north-west, soon after which, seeing Macquarie Plains, we went down to it on our right, and followed the course of the river about three miles until we came to the point where the Macquarie and Campbell's rivers unite, at 11.30, where we sat down for the day. In the afternoon of yesterday crossed Campbell's River, about three miles. Found it very good pasture for sheep and cattle. On Saturday morning, at 4.30, started again, and went about two miles up Campbell's River; then steered due east, until 11 o'clock, without halting. Here meeting with water in a creek, we stopped to refresh, and remained until 1, when my compass being out of order we made our way by the hills and sun, and arrived at our old encampment at 6.30, having been the whole length from Macquarie River up to where we are building a bridge in the day. The day was cold, with wind from east. No foot men could have performed it in the day. During these three days' travelling we passed over a great quantity of most excellent pasturage. Fine, dry, healthy hills, gravelly soil, and good grass, and so thinly timbered, that it resembled parks in England rather than a forest. There are few gullies and no swamps, but the hills passed gradually into fine valleys, some of which have fine grass in them. At Sidmouth Valley I never saw finer grass, or more on the same quantity of land in a meadow in England than there was here, and just in a fit state for mowing. The whole of the line, about 20 miles due west, would make most excellent grazing farms, with the river in front and the back on east and west line. This is the south side of the Fish River I am describing. On the north side I have not yet been, but I see there are some good farms to be had there. Ordered a bullock to be killed for the use of the people, which I had issued to them in lieu of giving them a ration of salt pork, It ran to about 12 lbs. a man. Some fish have also been caught this week, and when the men were mustered this morning they were extremely clean, and looked cheerful and hearty.
Sent a soldier off with letters to the Governor and Commissary, and in the afternoon received letters from the Governor and Clarendon. Sent Lewis, Watson, and cart to ascertain if a better place could not be found to make a road than the high hill in our front. Returned unsuccessful. Mr. Hobby measured the road up to this place; it is 21 miles from the mountain.
Went with Mr. Hobby up the south side of the Fish River, about four miles. The land got hilly, and falls more into gullies than lower down. It is also scrubby in places, and more timber on it, and altogether not so good as lower down. There is room for two or three good grazing farms on the front of the river from the bridge upwards. The men finished filling in the piers at each end of the bridge, and a gang of 10 men ordered to begin road-making to-morrow morning. In the afternoon went over the hill in our front, and made considerable alterations in our line of road. Got all the split logs brought in for the bridge. They are very good, heavy logs, well split. Brought some of them three miles. The cobbler finished mending the men's shoes again.
At 8 a.m. went with Mr. Hobby, Tye, and two soldiers to Emu Valley, to mark the intended line of road from thence to Sidmouth Valley. Returned at 4.30, having marked very good ground for road-making. We also traced down the rich valley. There are about two miles of it equally good as where we cross, when it falls into a creek that goes to the Fish River about north-north-west; distance, one mile and a-half. Much disappointed at not receiving the Parramatta cart with provisions this evening. Removed the gang of 12 men forward to Emu Valley this evening, three miles. 'Smith employed repairing the tools, shoeing our horses, etc., as it is not my intention to put up the forge again until we arrive at Bathurst Plains. The carpenters getting on very well with the bridge over the river, as also a small one over a creek near it.
About midnight I was taken violently ill with excruciating pains just above my left hip. In about two hours it became easier, when I got into a perspiration and slept a little. Was in considerable pain until about 9, when I again dozed, and got up at 11 considerably better. Removed three soldiers and J. Tye forward to Sidmouth Valley, about seven miles, this morning. Finished the bridge over the Fish River this evening. It is a strong and well-built one. On each end is a pier of 25 ft., which is well filled up with stone, and a very little earth over it. The span across is 25 ft. more, which is planked with split logs; and as floods will go over it, there is no earth put on top. It is altogether 75 ft. long and 16 ft. wide. There is also another small bridge 10 ft. long across a creek leading to it, which is also completed this evening, and we remove to-morrow morning.
At 8 a.m. crossed the river over the new bridge with the caravan and two carts, as also our horses, and went as far as Sidmouth Valley. Measured the road; it is seven miles from the bridge and 28 from the mountain, which last reckoning I intend to keep until we arrive at Mount Pleasant, on Bathurst Plains. In the afternoon marked the trees for our road from the valley to the next creek, where we have a bridge to build, as also one in the valley.
It began to thunder at daybreak, and to rain at 5.30. Continued with little intermission until 2 p.m., when it cleared up. Ordered the whole of the men forward to a creek about two miles ahead this evening, and rode up to the head of Sidmouth Valley, about two miles. Returned by the hills, which are very fine. An emu and kangaroo passed quietly along. The valley in our front to-day.
Here the diary ends abruptly.
The party consisted of 28 men and six soldiers.
Memo. for watering and feeding stock:—
1st.—Nepean River to Emu Island, both grass and water.
2nd.—Five to six miles, grass and water at first depôt (Blaxland).
3rd.—Nine and a-half miles, grass and water in a valley to the right of the road, about a quarter of a mile; entrance to it between two rocks (The Valley).
4th.—Eleven and a-half to thirteen miles is forest land, and at 12 miles good water to the right of the road (Springwood).
5th.—Fifteen and a-half miles, water to the right, amongst the rocks, but no grass whatever.
6th.—Twenty-one miles, water to the right and coarse food for stock (20-Mile Hollow).
7th.—Twenty-eight miles, running stream and coarse grass (Wentworth Falls).
8th.—Thirty-two miles, water to the right and coarse grass.
9th—Thirty-five miles, water to the left.
10th.—Thirty-seven and three-quarter miles, water and coarse grass to the right.
11th—Forty and a-half miles, water and coarse grass, a large plain to right (Blackheath).
12th—Forty-three miles, water and coarse grass to the right on a low flat. This is the last place fit for watering stock until you descend the mountain. (Mount Victoria.)
13th—Forty-nine and a-half miles, at the bottom of the mountain water and good food, except in very dry season, when you must go to the rivulet, about a mile and a-half north-west.
14th—At five miles west of bridges over two creeks, good watering-places, rocky bottom, with grass most of the way from the mountain; after this there are six or eight running streams before you get to the Fish River.
That road across the Blue Mountains, begun on July 7th, was finished on January 14th, 1815, and in April of that year Governor Macquarie drove his carriage across it from Sydney to Bathurst. It is utterly unbelievable even now, with the official records to hand. To climb the mountains was a task that had tried sorely the power of the best men, but to make a road across the mountains in six months seems absolutely impossible, and with such a small body of men, too! They had to hew their way across, through dense thickets, such as we see there to this day. They had to blast out vast rocks, bridge deep gorges, fill in great chasms, and make a carriage road across the hitherto untrodden mountains. One would have thought that such a labour would have taken a small army of skilled men several years, yet this indomitable colonist, with a small party of workers, made it in six months. When the Governor reached the river on the far side of the range, he named it after the hero who had bridged it—the Cox River; and so it stands to this day. He also gave him a grant of land on what was called the Bathurst Plains, but it was, more correctly speaking, on the right bank of the Macquarie River. This place Mr. Cox called "Hereford."
At the same time, Governor Macquarie did one of those graceful acts which only a man of sense and keen governing instinct is capable of. He wrote Mr. Cox a letter, which was a public document, and which is still preserved in the family archives as a precious document. It sets forth clearly the services rendered to the State by William Cox, and runs as follows:—
"Government House, Sydney, "June 10, 1815. "The Governor desires to communicate, for the information of the public, the result of his late tour over the Western or Blue Mountains, undertaken for the purpose of being enabled personally to appreciate the importance of the tract of country lying westward of them, which had been explored in the latter end of the year 1813 and beginning of 1814 by Mr. George William Evans, Deputy Surveyor of Lands. "To those who know how very limited a tract of country has been hitherto occupied by the colonists of New South Wales, extending along the eastern coast to the north and south of Port Jackson only 80 miles, and westward about 40 miles to the foot of that chain of mountains in the interior which forms its western boundary, it must be a subject of astonishment and regret that amongst so large a population no one appeared within the first 25 years of the establishment of this settlement possessed of sufficient energy of mind to induce him fully to explore a passage over these mountains. But when it is considered that for the greater part of that time even this circumscribed portion of country afforded sufficient produce for the wants of the people, whilst on the other hand the whole surface of the country beyond these limits was a thick and in many places, nearly an impenetrable forest, the surprise at the want of effort to surmount such difficulties must abate very considerably. "The records of the colony only afford two instances of any bold attempt having been made to discover the country to the westward of the Blue Mountains. The first was by Mr. Bass, and the other by Mr. Caley, and both ended in disappointment—a circumstance which will not be much wondered at by those who have lately crossed those mountains. [Governor Macquarie overlooks M. Barrilier's attempt.] "To Gregory Blaxland and William Wentworth, Esquires, and Lieutenant Lawson, of the Royal Veteran Company, the merit is due of having effected the first passage over the most rugged and difficult part of the Blue Mountains. The Governor, being strongly impressed with the importance of the object, had, early after his arrival in this colony, formed the resolution of encouraging the attempt to find a passage to the Western country, and willingly availed himself of the facilities which the discoveries of these three gentlemen afforded him. Accordingly, on the 20th of November, 1813, he entrusted the accomplishment of this object to Mr. G. W. Evans, Deputy Surveyor of Lands, the result of whose journey was laid before the public. The favourable account given by Mr. Evans of the country he had explored induced the Governor to cause a road to be constructed for the passage and conveyance of cattle and provisions to the interior; and men of good character, from amongst a number of convicts who had volunteered their services, were selected to perform this arduous task, on condition of being fed and clothed during the continuance of their labour, and being granted emancipation as their final reward on the completion of the work. The direction and superintendence of this great work was entrusted to William Cox, Esq., the chief magistrate at Windsor; and, to the astonishment of everyone who knows what was to be encountered, and sees what has been done, he effected its completion in six months from the time of its commencement, happily 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, by opening a new source of wealth to the industrious and enterprising. When it is considered that Mr. Cox voluntarily relinquished the comforts of his own house and the society of his numerous family, and exposed himself to much personal fatigue, with only such temporary covering as a bark hut could afford from the inclemency of the weather, it is difficult to express the sentiments of approbation to which such privations and services are entitled. Mr. Cox having reported the road as completed on the 21st January last, the Governor, accompanied by Mrs. Macquarie and that gentleman, commenced his tour on the 25th of April over the Blue Mountains, and was joined by Sir John Jamieson at the Nepean, who accompanied him during the entire tour. The following gentlemen composed the Governor's suite:—Mr. Campbell, secretary; Captain Antill, major of brigade; Lieutenant Watts, aide-de-camp; Mr. Redfern, assistant surgeon; Mr. Oxley, Surveyor-General; Mr. Mehan, Deputy Surveyor-General; Mr. Lewin, painter and naturalist; and Mr. G. W. Evans, Deputy Surveyor of Lands, who had been sent forward for the purpose of making further discoveries, and re-joined the party on the day of arrival at Bathurst Plains. The commencement of the ascent from Emu Plains to the first depôt, and thence to a resting-place, now called Springwood, distant 12 miles from Emu ford, was through a very handsome open forest of lofty trees, and much more practicable and easy than was expected. The facility of the ascent for this distance excited surprise, and is certainly not well calculated to give the traveller a just idea of the difficulties he has afterwards to encounter. For a further distance of four miles a sudden change is perceived in the appearance of the timber and the quality of the soil, the former becoming stunted, and the latter barren and rocky. At this place the fatigues of the journey may be said to commence. Here the country became altogether mountainous and extremely rugged. Near to the 18-mile mark (it is to be observed that the measure commences from Emu ford) a pile of stones attracted attention; it is close to the line of road on the top of a rugged and abrupt ascent, and is supposed to have been placed by Mr. Caley as the extreme limit of his tour. Hence the Governor gave that part of the mountain the name of Caley's Repulse. To have penetrated so far was at that time an effort of no small difficulty. From henceforward to the 26th mile is a succession of steep and rugged hills, some of which are so abrupt as to deny a passage altogether; but at this place a considerable extensive plain is arrived at, which constitutes the summit of the Western mountains and from thence a most extensive and beautiful prospect presents itself on all sides to the eye. The town of Windsor, the River Hawkesbury, Prospect Hill, and other objects within that part of the colony now inhabited, of equal interest, are distinctly seen from hence. The majestic grandeur of the situation, combined with the various objects to be seen from this place, induced the Governor to give it the appellation of the King's Table Land. On the south-west side of the King's Table Land the mountain terminates in abrupt precipices of immense depth, at the bottom of which is seen a glen, as romantically beautiful as can be imagined, bounded on the further side by mountains of great magnitude, terminating equally abruptly as the others, and the whole thickly covered with timber. The length of this picturesque and remarkable tract of country is about 24 miles, to which the Governor gave the name of The Prince Regent's Glen. Proceeding hence to the 33rd mile, on the top of a hill, an opening presents itself on the south-west side of The Prince Regent's Glen, from whence a view is obtained particularly beautiful and grand—mountains rising beyond mountains, with stupendous masses of rock in the foreground, here strike the eye with admiration and astonishment. The circular form in which the whole is so wonderfully disposed induced the Governor to give the name of Pitt's Amphitheatre (in honour of the late Right Honourable William Pitt) to this offset or branch from The Prince Regent's Glen. The road continues from hence, for the space of 17 miles, on the ridge of the mountain which forms one side of The Prince Regent's Glen, and then it suddenly terminates in nearly a perpendicular precipice of 676 ft. high, as ascertained by measurement. The road constructed by Mr. Cox down this rugged and tremendous descent, through all its windings, is no less than three-quarters of a mile in length, and has been executed with skill and stability, and reflects much credit on him. The labour here undergone, and the difficulties surmounted, can only be appreciated by those who view this scene. In order to perpetuate the memory of Mr. Cox's services, the Governor deemed it a tribute justly due to him to give his name to this grand and extraordinary pass; and he accordingly called it Cox's Pass. Having descended into the valley at the bottom of this pass, the retrospective view of the overhanging mountains is magnificently grand. Although the present pass is the only practicable point yet discovered for descending by, yet the mountain is much higher than those on either side of it, from whence it is distinguished at a considerable distance when approaching it from the interior, and in this point of view it has the appearance of a very high distinct hill, although it is in fact only the abrupt termination of a ridge. The Governor gave the name of Mount York to this termination of the ridge, in honour of his Royal Highness the Duke of York. "On descending Cox's Pass the Governor was much gratified by the appearance of good pasture land and soil fit for cultivation, which was the first he had met with since the commencement of his tour. The valley at the base of Mount York he called The Vale of Clwyd, in consequence of the strong resemblance it bore to the vale of that name in North Wales. The grass in this vale is of good quality, and very abundant, and a rivulet of fine water runs along it from the eastward, which unites itself at the western extremity of the vale with another rivulet containing still more water. The junction of these two streams forms a very handsome river, now called by the Governor Cox's River, which takes its course, as has been ascertained, through The Prince Regent's Glen, and empties itself into the River Nepean, near Mulgoa; and it has been conjectured, from the nature of the country through which it passes, that it must be one of the principal causes of the floods which have occasionally been felt on the low banks of the River Hawkesbury, into which the Nepean discharges itself. The Vale of Clwyd, from the base of Mount York, extends six miles in a westerly direction, and has its termination at Cox's River. Westward of this river the country again becomes hilly, but generally open forest land, and very good pasturage. Three miles to the westward of The Vale of Clwyd, Messrs. Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson had formerly terminated their excursion, and when the various difficulties are considered which they had to contend with, especially until they had effected the descent of Mount York, to which place they were obliged to pass through thick brushwood, where they were under the necessity of cutting a passage for their baggage horses, the severity of which labour had seriously affected their healths, their patient endurance of such fatigue cannot fail to excite much surprise and admiration. 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. A range of very lofty hills and narrow valleys alternately form the tract of country from Cox's River, for a distance of 16 miles, until the Fish River is arrived at; and the stage between these rivers is consequently very severe and oppressive on the cattle. To this range the Governor gave the name of Clarence Hilly Range. "Proceeding from the Fish River, and at a short distance from it, a very singular and beautiful mountain attracts the attention, its summit being crowned with a large and very extraordinary-looking rock, nearly circular in form, which gives to the whole very much the appearance of a hill fort, such as are frequent in India. To this lofty hill Mr. Evans, who was the first European discoverer, gave the name Mount Evans. Passing on from hence, the country continues hilly, but affords good pasturage, gradually improving to Sidmouth Valley, which is distant from the pass of the Fish River eight miles. The land here is level, and the first met with, unencumbered with timber. It is not of very considerable extent, but abounds with a great variety of herbs and plants, such as would probably interest and gratify the scientific colonist. This beautiful little valley runs north-west and south-east, between hills of easy ascent thinly covered with timber. Leaving Sidmouth Valley, the country becomes again hilly, and in other respects resembles very much the country to the eastward of the valley for some miles. Having reached Campbell's River, distant 13 miles from Sidmouth Valley, the Governor was highly gratified by the appearance of the country, which there began to exhibit open and extensive views of gently rising grounds and fertile plains. Judging from the height of the banks and its general width, the Campbell River must be in some parts of very considerable magnitude, but the extraordinary drought which has apparently prevailed on the Western side of the mountains, equally as throughout this colony for the last three years, has reduced this river so much that it may more properly be called a chain of ponds than a running stream at the present time.* [* This seems very extraordinary after the exceedingly wet summer experienced by Mr. Cox.] "In the reaches or pools of the Campbell River the very curious animal called the ornithorhynchus paradoxus, or water-platypus mole, is seen in great numbers. The soil is rich, and the grass is consequently luxuriant. Two miles to the southward of the line of road which crosses Campbell River there is a very rich tract of low lands which has been named Mitchell Plains. Flax was found growing here in considerable quantities. The Fish River, which forms a junction with the Campbell River a few miles to the northward of the road and bridge over the latter, has also two very fertile plains on its banks, the one called O'Connell Plains and the other Macquarie Plains, both of considerable extent, and very capable of yielding all the necessaries of life. "At the distance of seven miles from the bridge over the Campbell River, Bathurst Plains open to the view, presenting a rich tract of champaign country of 11 miles in length, bounded on both sides by gently rising and very beautiful hills, thinly wooded. The Macquarie River, which is constituted by the junction of the Fish and Campbell rivers, takes a winding course through the plains, which can be easily traced from the high lands adjoining by the particular verdure of the trees on its banks, which are likewise the only trees throughout the extent of the plains. The level and clean surface of these plains gives them at first view the appearance of lands under cultivation. It is impossible to behold this grand scene without a feeling of admiration and surprise, whilst the silence and solitude which reign in a space of such extent and beauty as seems designed by Nature for the occupancy and comfort of man create a degree of melancholy in the mind which may be more easily imagined than described. "The Governor and suite arrived at these plains on Thursday, the 4th of May, and encamped on the southern or left bank of the Macquarie River, the situation being selected in consequence of its commanding a beautiful and extensive prospect for many miles in every direction around it. At this place the Governor remained a week, which time he occupied in making excursions in different directions through the adjoining country on both sides of the river. "On Sunday, the 7th May, the Governor fixed on a site suitable for the erection of a town at some future period, to which he gave the name of Bathurst, in honour of the present Secretary of State for the Colonies. The situation of Bathurst is elevated sufficiently beyond the reach of any floods which may occur, and is at the same time so near to the river on its south bank as to derive all the advantages of its clear and beautiful stream. The mechanics and settlers, of whatever description, who may be hereafter permitted to form permanent residences to themselves at this place, will have the highly important advantages of a rich and fertile soil, with a beautiful river flowing through it for all the uses of man. The Governor must, however, add that the hopes which were at first so sanguinely entertained of this river becoming navigable to the Western sea have ended in disappointment. "During the week that the Governor remained at Bathurst, he made daily excursions in various directions. One of these extended 22 miles in a south-west direction, and on that occasion, as well as on all others, he found the country composed chiefly of valleys and plains, separated occasionally by ranges of low hills, the soil throughout being generally fertile, and well circumstanced for the purpose of agriculture and grazing. "The Governor here feels much pleasure in being enabled to communicate to the public that the favourable reports which he had received of the country to the west of the Blue Mountains have not been by any means exaggerated. The difficulties which present themselves in the journey from hence are certainly great and inevitable; but those persons who may be inclined to become permanent settlers there will probably content themselves with visiting this part of the country but rarely, and, of course, will have them seldom to encounter. Plenty of water and a sufficiency of grass are to be found in the mountains for the support of such cattle as may be sent over them, and the tracts of fertile soil and rich pasturage which the new country affords are fully extensive enough for any increase of population and stock which can possibly take place for many years. Within a distance of 10 miles from the site of Bathurst there is not less than 50,000 acres of land clear of timber, and fully one-half of that may be considered excellent soil, well calculated for cultivation. It is a matter of regret that in proportion as the soil improves, the timber degenerates; and it is to be remarked that everywhere to the westward of the mountains it is much inferior, both in size and quality, to that within the present colony. There is, however, a sufficiency of timber of tolerable quality within the district around Bathurst for the purposes of house-building and husbandry. The Governor has here to lament that neither coals nor limestone have yet been discovered in the Western country, articles in themselves of so much importance that the want of them must be severely felt whenever that country shall be settled. "The road constructed by Mr. Cox and the party under him commences at Emu ford, on the left bank of the River Nepean, and is thence carried 101½ miles to the flagstaff at Bathurst. This road has been carefully measured, and each mile regularly marked on the trees growing on the left side of the road proceeding towards Bathurst. The Governor in his tour made the following stages, in which he was principally regulated by the consideration of having good pasturage for the cattle and plenty of water:— "1st stage, from Emu Ford to Springwood........12 miles 2nd " " Jamieson's Valley..16 " 3rd " " Blackheath ........13 " 4th " " Cox's River .......15 " 5th " " Fish River ........16 " 6th " " Sidmouth Valley ....8 " 7th " " Campbell River ....11 " 8th " " Bathurst...........10½ " Total 101½ " At all of which places the traveller may assure himself of good grass and water in abundance. On Thursday, the 11th May, the Governor and suite set out from Bathurst on their return, and arrived at Sydney on Friday, the 19th ultimo. The Governor cannot conclude this account of his tour without offering his best acknowledgments to William Cox, Esq., for the important service he has rendered to the colony in so short a period of time by opening a passage to the newly-discovered country, and at the same time assuring him that he shall have great pleasure in recommending his meritorious services on this occasion to the favourable consideration of his Majesty's Ministers. "By command of his Excellency the Governor, "JOHN THOMAS CAMPBELL, "Secretary."
In the month of March, 1817, the Surveyor-General, John Oxley, received instructions from the Governor to explore the River Lachlan, and endeavour to discover where it emptied itself; or did it and the Macquarie River join? This river had been discovered by Deputy-Surveyor Evans four years before, and at the particular request of the Governor Mr. William Cox had visited it, and suggested that a boat be constructed, and learn whether it was navigable.
In the despatch conveying instructions to Mr. Oxley, the following paragraph occurs:—
"On your arrival at Bathurst you will find William Cox, Esq., there, and to him I beg leave to refer you for every information relative to the provisions, stores, horses for carriage, and other equipments ordered to be forwarded to the depôt on the Lachlan River for the use of the expedition, the arrangement and conveyance of all of which has been wholly entrusted to him. Mr. Cox having promised to accompany you as far as the depôt on the Lachlan River, he will be able to remove any unforeseen difficulties that may arise on your arrival there in getting the provisions and stores for the use of the expedition forwarded."
This shows what implicit confidence the Governor had in the man who constructed the road over the Blue Mountains, and who, through his long and energetic life, had also the confidence and esteem of his fellow-men.
When William Cox had finished that wonderful road across the Blue Mountains, a new chapter in the history of New South Wales began. There was an opening for the race beyond the ranges. For nearly 30 years our people had struggled along on the coast, shut off from the vast world beyond by the impassable range of blue hills. To all men everywhere, and everywhen, there has been a weird interest in what lay on the other side of the mountains. "Banjo's" story of the little girl who lived, walled in by the Moonbi Range, is the story of all the human race. The little one's idea was that beyond the range—
"They never need work, nor want, nor weep;
No troubles can come their hearts to estrange.
Some summer night I shall fall asleep,
And wake in a country over the range."
Our people went "over the range" on the road made by the bold pioneer from Wimbourne Minster, and they settled in the new, good land; but life has proven the same there as here. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes hard; life has smiles and tears, and joys and woes, whatever side of the range we are.
To recall the names of the people who crossed the range in the year 1815—the year of the battle of Waterloo—makes a music of words, a prose melody. There was Lowe, of Sidmouth, who settled on the left bank of the Fish River. There was Hassall, of O'Connell Plains; and Lawson and Street, of Macquarie Plains. Then you had the "Church and School Lands," which the early men carefully set apart for the times that were yet to be, and you reached the town of Bathurst, at a distance of 145 miles from Sydney. That was a long trip in 1812! Now it is a town of over 12,000 inhabitants—a busy, enterprising town, set in the middle of a fertile district. Close by the town were a few small farms, and then the gigantic estate of General Stuart. On the right bank of the river were the brothers West, Mackenzie, Cox (the Hereford Estate), Hawkins, Piper, and the Rankin Brothers, Kite, Lee, and Smith. Some of them had small farms.
Mr. Geo. Suttor had been promised a farm in the new district, but he was crowded out, and had to go further out to the Wimburndale Creek, on which Walker and others already had farms. Queen Charlotte's Vale was cut up into small farms, which were occupied by veterans and emancipists. Sheep and cattle soon began to roam the gentle downs, and an industrious population gave a new character to the country. The Rankins established a cheese factory, and the products thereof were soon spread abroad amongst the small population of the young colony.
When Governor Macquarie visited Bathurst Plains and saw the stature of the country, he was pleased beyond expression, and he was evidently under the impression that the arrangements for settlement that he had made would suffice for years to come. He little dreamed that the few thousands of sheep in the colony would soon increase to millions, and that the people who had primarily adventured across the range would soon be moving hundreds of miles to the west, the north, and the south. But nobody could have imagined, in that far-off day, that Australia would have developed so enormously. Our antipodal distance from the Mother Country seemed to preclude all idea of rapid advance and permanent development, but the world moves rapidly nowadays, and the pressure of population against the means of subsistence is very great. The history of the advance from Bathurst is really a record of colonial expansion. The men of that day were making history, just as we are, but, like ourselves, they were unaware of it. We are generally under the impression that we are each, individually, working our own way to make our own career. As a matter of fact, each individual is working out his racial contract as part of a mighty movement.
Those men were living in a great time. But so are we! As the old hymn says:
"We are living, we are dwelling, in a grand, an
In an age on ages telling—to be living is sublime!"
Aye, we think that was true of them; but it is equally true of to-day.
Lieutenant William Lawson heard from the blacks that there was a fine country far away, "over there," towards the north-west. Surveyor Evans had traversed the country away back as far as the Lachlan, about 140 miles, but the blacks told Lieutenant Lawson that there was a land of milk and honey far beyond that to the north. Finally, Lieutenant Lawson made up a small party, including Mr. Scott, and the guide was a blackfellow named Aaron. They travelled along fer a good while till they had crossed the Turon River, and when they reached a bold granite hill, Aaron struck. He pointed to the good country, and said that was it, and he showed them the beautiful river flowing through the Cudgegong country, but further he would not go. He was afraid of the hostile blacks. When, years afterwards, the Mudgee-road had been traced, this hill was named after the blackfellow, and unto this day the place is called "Aaron's Pass."
Mr. Lawson and his party travelled down the river to the place that is now called "Mudgee," and bore away to the north to try and find their way on to the Liverpool Plains, which had been discovered some two years before by the Colonial Surveyor, Oxley. Mr. Lawson crossed the head of the Goulburn, one of the tributaries of the Hunter River, and got as far as the Liverpool Range. He discovered a stream, which he called the Wymmis, and another the Smith, now the Collaroy or Krui, and also the Minnamurra at Cassilis. Ha continued westerly, and came on the Talbragar, which he named the Erskine. Some two years after Allan Cunningham, the botanist, discovered the same river, and named it the Lawson.
Mr. Lawson was one of the most enterprising men of that day, and has made a large mark on our early history, but he failed to find a passage over the range on to the Liverpool Plains. That was reserved for Allan Cunningham. In 1823 the Government commissioned him to try and find a pass, and he went over Mr. Lawson's old track. Be found the marked trees of his predecessor, but the frowning range presented an utterly impassable front. He crossed the Goulburn, and went east as far as Hall's Creek, but there was no opening possible for man or beast. But his orders were to find a feasible pass, and he was made of grand stuff: he simply kept on searching, and he eventually found an opening at the head of Coolah Creek, which he named Pandora's Pass. It seems an odd name, for Pandora was the beautiful woman formed out of clay by Vulcan, at the express command of Zeus, who meant through her instrumentality to bring trouble and misery into the world. She was married to Epimetheus (after-thought), and he possessed a beautiful jar, in which were all the blessings that the gods held in reserve for mankind. He was forbidden to open it; but the beautiful clay woman opened it, and every blessing except Hope escaped. Pandora closed the lid in time to retain that blessing, and if that had gone it would have been a dreary, dreary world. Why did Allan Cunningham call that "Pandora's Pass?"
On his way back to Bathurst he was startled by tine sight of the tracks of cattle on the banks of the Pipeclay Creek, which runs into the Cudgegong. After same search he found, not only the cattle, but the stockman in charge of them, Tom Promo, and who led him to the cattle station at Menah, or Munnar, where Mr. Gee. Cox had his out-station. This is one of the little incidents that open our eyes of the hardships of the early men. He had run short of rations, and the discovery of a white man at such a time was a benediction. But far more than that was the fact that Mr. Cox's stockman had a vegetable garden, and, for the first time in months, Mr. Allan Cunningham had a royal feast of fresh vegetables. To us who live in towns and beside big gardens this may lave but little significance, but to the early man, who had lived long an damper, salt beef, and tea, it was a rich treat.
How Mr. Geo. Cox came to be at Menah forms another chapter of colonial history that is exceedingly interesting. When William Lawson returned to Bathurst after his unsuccessful attempt to cross the Liverpool Range, he gave a glowing account of the grand country he had seen. This stirred the ambition of the young Cox's, and George Cox (father of the Hon. G. H. Cox, M.L.C.) and Henry volunteered to join him in taking up the land. In those days there was great need for companionship in such adventures, for the method of travelling was slow in the extreme. The fastest way was on horseback, but when the pioneers went forth to take up land they had to take their flocks and herds with them; their ox waggons and their household goods. There were no stores, no parcels post, no means of replenishing. They went out from the filmy borders of a young civilisation into the strange, roadless land of the blackfellow, the wallaby, and the laughing jackass. So they moved slowly, and watch had to be set all the time to guard against attack from the blacks. William Lawson wanted a friend and neighbour; so he persuaded George and Henry Cox to set out on that long march to the good land that lay afar off. Their agreement was that the Cox's were to take all the land on the south bank of the Cudgegong River, and Lawson would take all that en the north. And yet, that was little over 75 years age! It sounds so far off, in its simple, patriarchal method of dividing the country that it stands beside an earlier story—listen:
"And Lot, also, which went with Abraham, had flocks and herds and tents. And the land was not able to bear them both, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdmen of Abraham's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle...and Abraham said unto Lot, 'Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen, for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right hand; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.'"
So the squatters, in the genesis of the world, selected their stations, and the story is old and hoary, thousands of years old. But so also did William Lawson and George Cox, and that day is but little over 75 years from us. And here it is well to pause and make a remark. Some of the hypercritical, even of our own people, say unkind things about the morality of the men who made Australia. Some would measure the men of the days of Phillip and Hunter and Macquarie by the standards of the Commonwealth, but the standard is false, for the conditions of existence were vastly different. The gentlemen who came out here then found a wild, hard land, with none of the fashions or customs of the land they had left. They were masterful men, brave men, and they stood not upon ancient methods, but they adopted the best means to win to an end; and Garran sings now—
There was shame in the bitter beginning;
There was Freedom's averted face;
But honour was there for the winning,
And the breed of a sturdy race;
And the solitudes sang of endeavour,
And the cities arose by the sea;
God spake; "One destiny ever,
One people that is to be?"
They made Australia for us, and the reading of the darkest days of Australian history is not so dark as the days of Genesis, of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, of the cave-dwelling days of Zoar. Men sneer at our pioneers, but it is the sneer of ignorance. They were grand men, those pioneers of Australia!
When George Cox started out wits his stock he was going to a new land. It is strange reading now, when we see what the land has become. These two passed a place that is now called "Burrundulla," one of the finest places in the colony, where George Cox finally made his home, but he thought it was "too swampy." Strange it sounds indeed when one looks over the beautiful station that stands there to-day. They movers down to a water-hole which the blackfellows called "Mudgee," and there they camped in the year 1822. To-day the town of Mudgee occupies the site of the old camp. It is distant 190 miles from Sydney, and is easily reached by train. It is a busy town, of nearly 5000 inhabitants, and all around are the homes of the famous sheep-breeders of Australia.
Some three miles down the river a hut and yards were erected on a pretty piece of park land called Menah, and that was where Mr. George Cog had his out-station when Allan Cunningham found him in 1823. It was a memorable meeting, and when one stands in the town of lodges now, on a show day, when the town is all alive with excitement, the story of 1823 becomes utterly incredible. Yet such has been our rate of development. So baa Australia grown.
One other item that belongs to the period must he told, in order to make clear the position of the men of that day. The blacks were very dangerous. They were plentiful and exceedingly treacherous.. They used to come about the stations, and were very difficult to deal with, because to shoot them for coming near was repellant to English ideas, yet to allow them to loaf about was to endanger the lives of all the white people in the camp. It is easy to criticise, but it was difficult to exist, and the pioneers had grievous troubles. The chief blacks of the district had been named by the white people after the days of the' week. The great chief was "Sunday," but the deadliest enemy of the newly-arrived whites was "Saturday." He was a powerful black, cunning as serpent, and an inveterate foe of our race. The servants of the new stations stood in mortal terror of the blacks, for their stealthy methods got on to the nerves of the hirelings, and when a white man was speared they all fled to Bathurst. Those were the days that tried men's souls, and nobody can understand the courage that was required to face the situation except those who saw the influence of the Breelong blacks, only a little time ago. The Governors had murdered several people, and had taken to the bush. Our poor selectors and labourers could have faced a white foe as well as any people in the world, but the horror of waiting, waiting, waiting for the creeping, stealthy, treacherous blacks was too much for them. Thomas Carlyle said it was not the crowing of the cocks that worried him at Ecclefechan; it was "waiting for the next." There is philosophy in that: waiting makes people nervous. George Cox and William Lawson had to wait and be ready to defend their places when all their servants had fled. The big blackfellow "Sunday" affirmed that he owned all the land about Mudgee, and that "Missa Cox only got it."
What the man of that day required was cool nerves and readiness
of wit. One day Henry Cox had been left alone at Menah. He was not
feeling "fit," so he stayed at the hut to mend his clothes while
the rest went to their duties about the station. As he was sitting
quietly stitching, dreaming about the home at Mulgoa, a shadow fell
across the floor, and, looking up, he saw that the place was
surrounded by big, savage, armed blackfellows. He realized that his
hour had come, for he could not reach the arms, and there was not a
soul near the place to help +him. Instead of giving way to terror,
and making a rush to escape, he sat and smiled on the savages. He
tempted one inside to show him the colours of the fancy tapes he
was using. He showed him how to sew on buttons. He gin the crowd
about him, and tied tapes round their heads and decorated them in
childish fashion, as suited best their savage minds. He kept them
amused and interested till the slow-moving sun was casting long
shadows about him, and the footsteps of returning well-armed
comrades were heard, and then the strain was seer. The blacks had
forgotten their murderous mission, and Henry Cox was saved. But it
took a man's nerve to play a game like that with "Saturday" and
While such men were at the head of the Mudgee and Guntawang
tribes, no peace was possible, and it was only when "Saturday" was
shot that the dwellers by the Cudgegong began to live in peace.
"Saturday" was finally captured by six white men, but a musket was
broken on his ribs before he could be overpowered. But the blacks
really exterminated themselves. As the district became more
populous they moved further back, or stayed in the village and
drank themselves to death; but the final crisis was reached with
the discovery of gold in 1861. When they could pick up gold and
sell it for rum, their doom was sealed, poor wretches. The last of
all the blacks of the district was Tom Penney, and he died about 25
years ago, so that the present generation has scarcely seen a black
in the district.
In the meantime William Cox was to the fore in looking up good cattle and sheep country. He established a station near the junction of the Cudgegong and Macquarie Rivers, and called it "Burrendong," now belonging to the Hon. F. B. Suttor. He also took up bed at Coolah, along with Mr. Lawson, and his son George Cox was soon across the range, by the Pandora Pass, where he took up Garrawilla and Nombie, which Oxley, when he first came in sight of that rich pastoral country, called "Lushinngton Valley."
With reference to the taking up of the Liverpool Plains country, the late Sir J. Robertson tells the following story: He had started from the Upper Hunter to explore this new country through the pass in the range, just discovered above Murrurundi. He went westward until he crossed the Mooki and Cog's Creek, and there, to his surprise, saw two men riding towards him and his party down the plain. Thinking they were bushrangers, he hid in a clump of myalls until they came nearer, when he came to the conclusion that they were, like himself, looking for new country. He then came forward, and discovered that it was Mr. George Cog and his stockman, who had already formed a station called Nombie. He (Sir John) then took up a station on the Namoi, but he remarked that it was a curious coincidence that this grand tract of country should have been taken up almost simultaneously from the Eastern and Western borders.
The early pioneers of Australia have but scant justice meted out to them. They must have been men of more than ordinary pluck and energy. When we find a number of gentlemen prepared to give up all the comforts of civilized life, and brave the dangers of an unknown region, to herd with felons and risk their lives amongst savages, to be cut off for months from all communication with the friends and relatives they left behind them, shows that they were men whom we, their descendants, should delight to honour, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for all they have done for us.
Hard words have been uttered because in the early days of the colony the state of morality was not very high; but sufficient allowance has not been made for the peculiar circumstances in which these men were placed. The system of assigning convicts to masters who were just and kind was, there can hens doubt, the best means ever adopted to reform any but the most hardened criminal. Governor Macquarie was most energetic on this subject, and, during the twelve years he ruled in New South Wales, did more to ameliorate the position of the convicts, and more particularly the emancipists, than any previous er subsequent Governor. In 1821 a general meeting of the emancipated colonists was held in Sydney, pursuant to a requisition addressed to the Provost Marshal. At this assembly a series of resolutions were adopted, to this effect:—
1. That by the humane and benevolent policy of Governor Macquarie—a policy hitherto sanctioned by the Mother Country—the emancipated colonists had been encouraged and protected, had acquired and were now possessed of the larger moiety of the property of the colony, and were becoming the middle class of society therein.
2. That from the establishment of the colony up to April, 1820, it had been held and acted upon that persons arriving in the colony under sentence of transportation, and afterwards obtaining their pardon, either by service of the term or otherwise, might acquire and possess landed and other property, and enjoy all the civil rights of free citizens.
3. That by a late determination of the Court of Queen's Bench in England, it was declared that pardons were of no effect in restoring the emancipists to their legal rights, that this state of the law affected the emigrated colonists, because the titles to much of the land which they possessed had been obtained from the emancipists, and humbly praying relief from the Sovereign and the British Parliament. These resolutions show the importance this class had now attained, and the estimation of the people of the Governor, who had uniformly been their friend and protector.
Writing to Lord Sidmouth, Governor Macquarie states:
"The almost entire failure of the colony as a
place of reformation" was an assertion which he positively denied.
The number of families now established as settlers, living on their
farms, useful, industrious, and—taken generally—as respectable as
the yeomanry of any other country, would prove to anyone that the
colony had not failed as a place of reformation.
"The convict settlers had, in 1820, 2,618 acres of land in cultivation; they had 40,643 head of cattle, and 221,079 sheep.
"On the general subject of the good or bad policy of transportation he would not presume to speak; but he could not avoid saying that this country could be made the home, and the happy home, to every emancipated convict who deserved it."
It must be remembered that many convicts who were transported were not criminals. How many hundreds of Irishmen were transported, not because they committed any criminal offence, but because they had foolishly taken up arms against England. Again, many misguided men were transported for machine-breaking, believing that the introduction of machinery would injure their position as workmen. Others, again, were sent across the seas for snaring a haze or a rabbit or committing some trifling offence which would now be met by a three months' imprisonment.
No doubt many of the convicts were fiends in human shape, notably one John Lynch, whose career is described by Judge Therry in his Reminiscences. Being convicted of a murder, he confessed to having killed no less than nine persons, some apparently for no other reason except the lust of shedding blood. One boy he killed by giving him, he said, one crack on the head, and soliloquises:
"If people knew how easy it is to take away life, things of this kind would happen oftener." Before killing a man named Mulligan, he stated that he walked out of the hut. It was a clear, cold, windy night. "I looked up at the moon, and I prayed to Almighty God to direct me. I said to myself, 'I am an injured man, and the Mulligans have defrauded me of what I perilled life and liberty to obtain. That fellow, when I was starving in Berrima Iron Gang, has often passed me by without so much as giving me a shilling, when he had many pounds which were justly mine in his hands. And now, would it not be right that they should lose all they possess, as a judgment upon them for withholding his own from the poor prisoner. Heaven guide me, and point out to me what to do." He then murdered the old man Mulligan, wife, son, and daughter, and placed them upon a heap of wood. "I was surprised," he said, "to see how the bodies burned. They flared up as if they were so many bags filled with fat. It was an awful thing to stand alone in the dead of night, and to see the four bodies burning to ashes."
The bushrangers were discriminating in their acts of lawlessness, and would not injure the property of men who were good and kind masters. On one occasion when Donohue, the noted bushranger, and another (Walmsley) stopped Mr. Geo. Cox on the road between Windsor and Mulgoa, when driving in his gig, they robbed Mr. Cox and his coachman of their matches, money, etc., and then asked who the victim was. Upon being told, they at once stated that they would not rob a good master, and at once returned the valuables they had taken. Mr. Cox happened to have some tea in his gig, and gave it to the robbers, thanking them for their consideration, and promising not to give information to the police.
To attempt to follow out the ramifications of the Bells and Cox's in Australia would be a Herculean task, and one of only an academic interest. Yet, in the first or second generation of the grand old pioneers we find the secret of their success. William Cox, of Clarendon, and Archie Bell, of Belmont, were men of intense physical force. They were strong men physically, and their progeny is all over Australia. One of the Bells, of Pickering, as we have previously mentioned, said that he could ride from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Sydney, and hardly sleep one night out of the house of a relative. Such a statement, made 100 years after the landing of William Cox, seems utterly incredible, yet a brief sketch of William Cox's family tree will show that it is well within reason.
In 1819 Mrs. William Cox died, leaving five sons. In 1821 William Cox married again, and took to wife Miss Anna Blachford, the sister of Mrs. Beddek, the wife of the Hawkesbury lawyer. By her he had three sons and one daughter. Edgar, the eldest (who inherited Hereford), who still lives in New South Wales, married Miss Piper, the daughter of Captain Piper. Thomas entered the Church, and moved to England, where he died, leaving a large family. He inherited some property from his father, which was situated at the corner of Bent and O'Connell streets, in Sydney.
The third son, Alfred, inherited Burrandong, on the junction of the Macquarie and the Cudgegong Rivers, and other properties. He sold Burrandong to the late W. H. Suttor, and moved to New Zealand, where he has a large family. Anna married the late Captain Ramsbottom, who afterwards changed his name on inheriting some property, and became Captain Isherwood. They moved to England, where Captain Isherwood was killed. They also left a large family.
The first family of five sons left a good record. William, jun., and George, each had large families. James married three times, and settled in Tasmania. He carried the family names with him, and founded "Clarendon," on the River Esk, near Launceston. His great grandson is in possession there now.
Henry Cox married Miss Mackenzie, of Bathurst, and he left four sons and two daughters, one of whom is the wife of the Hon. G. H. Cox. He was possessed of considerable property in the Mudgee district.
Edward Cox married Miss Brooks, daughter of Captain Brooks, who was famous in the history of New South Wales in the early days. He was a noble-hearted sailor. Edward Cox lived and died at Mulgoa, and left a family which has been, and is, most notable in New South Wales. One of his sons was Edward King Cox, the famous stud-breeder. Another son is Dr. James Charles Cox, President of the Fisheries Commission, and Medical Adviser of the A.M.P. Society. One of his daughters is new Countess of Lindsay. Out of the seven sons of George Cox, there are only three surviving—Hon. Gee. Henry Con, M.L.C., and J. D. Coo, of Cullenbone, and A. T. Cox, of Mudgee. One of the sons who has since died, was the famous sheep-breeder, Chas. Clarendon Cox, of Broombee.
Up to the third generation of Cox's the descendants numbered nearly 500, but as soon as the fourth generation is entered on they become countless as the sands on the sea-shore. They reach not only all ever Australia, but into nearly every part of the world; and the early men of New South Wales showed the secret of their great strength in their numerous offspring. They were no weaklings, those men who founded Australia! When old William Cox, of Clarendon, died at Fairfield, Windsor, en March 15th, 1837, there passed away a truly great man. He was 72 years of age, but he was very old and very honourable, measured by events, and his descendants have proved their breeding by their honourable careers.
Australia lacks a "Sacred Place!" We have, as yet, no "Shakespeare country," no holy river like the Ganges, no Delphic Temple, no Mecca, no tombs of saints, nor holy martyr places. We have not yet risen (?) to a Lourdes or Holywell. Some day men will travel to Windsor to see where sleep "the rude forefathers" of Australia. They will stand beside the Hawkesbury and read from its stolid flood the romance of the earlier days. But that time is not yet. The gods walked with men in the far-off times; we never dream that the gods are with us to-day. Nor have we yet acquired a leisured class, which can afford to take interest in purely sentimental matters. Yet the Windsor district, where our history began, is full of intense interest to-day. The old "Government House" still stands beside the river, on a high spot, where it was safe from floods. Not that the Governor dwelt there, mind you; but it was a house built by the Government for public use, and it was a brave house in its day. The broad shingle roof is perfect yet, but it has sagged from the line of truth and beauty, and is failing fast; yet the cedar beams and door-posts are strong as ever. The town is old and sleepy. It may be a little larger than it was in the days of Governor Macquarie, but—not much. It is quiet and heedless. No storms come to Windsor. The fevered life of modern days has gone over the ranges, or north, or south, leaving Windsor to sleep and dream.
Just a few miles out you come to Clarendon, once the home of William Cox. The homestead is close to the big common, on one side, and on the other it overlooks a great stretch of river-flat, rich as a Dutch valley, where the horses and cattle are rolling fat. As you ride along the fences you are shaded by the great big English oaks that were planted there by the boy from Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School at Wimbourne Minster. There is a square, correct waterhole inside the fence that is suggestive of William of Orange and the fashions of the English Court long ago. It is covered with fat duck-wood and water-lilies, and you can imagine that golden carp are living there now, as they have lived for centuries—but your imaginings would be wrong. Our country has no "centuries" yet. It is only 100 years since William Cox landed here, and he came early. There is a new house inside of the fence, and new children look on a world that is nose to them; but, away to the right of the modern house is the old house of the founder of Clarendon. It is a large cottage house, built of brick and plaster. It has large, handsome rooms, and a wooden wainscot runs round the ancient drawing-room. The man who built that house in the olden times had a big soul. He had seen grand places in England. He came to our land es a gentleman, and expressed his deepest convictions in massive work. But, alas, in our land woodwork endureth not. We have "white ants," which eat the inside from solid timbers, and leave only a thin shell for Time to play with. As yen walk across the office solid floor of native timber it gives way beneath the feet, and the gray dust rises that tells of rot, ruin, and decay. The covered paths of deadly termites on some of the spider-haunted beams tell of the force that lives when all is decaying. Poor old house!
Outside, the grass and the weeds are working havoc with the once truly-laid stones, and the old levels are all askew. The rose bushes have run wild, and are tangled up with the box borders that run beside old guava trees. The wisteria flowers as beautifully as ever, even while it climbs over the orange and the lemon trees. All is wild and uncared for. The trim paths are overgrown with weeds, and the wind is moaning and sighing through the oak trees; and the old roster who built the house and laid the paths is sleeping beside his wife, over yonder at St. Matthew's. And all the old, familiar objects that the eye loved to rest on are tumbling to decay, and we sing as we wander—
"Change and decay in all around I see,
Oh, Thou, who changer not, abide with me."
Old William Cox left this house to his son George, and by him it was left to his son Charles, and he sold it to Arthur Dight, because he could not live there owing to his asthma; and so it passed out of the family.
But look around, and everywhere you find traces of the Cox family. Near by is the once stately Hobartville, with its great trees and its famous horse paddocks, and its history. Wm. Cox, jun., formed that place. He was old William Cox's eldest son, and when the father came out in the "Minerva" young William was left at Home. He was an officer in the English Army, and served in the Peninsular War, and married Miss Piper, daughter of the famous man who gave his name to Point Piper, in Sydney Harbour, William Cox, jun., came out after his father had settled here, and he made a good colonist. He settled first at Hobartville, and afterwards took up stations about Muswellbrook, on the Hunter River.
Then, away across the river, above the bridge, you can see shining the roofs and chimneys of Belmont, where old Archie Bell lived. He came out in the year 1803 as Lieutenant Archibald Bell, with the 102nd Regiment (the New South Wales Carps). He was one of the strong men of his day, and founder of the far-reaching Bell family. His son, Archie, was the bold young bushman who found his way over the Kurrajong to the Bathurst road, after Lawson, Wentworth, and Blaxland had found the way via Penrith and Emu Plains. The road that young Archie found was called "Bell's Line," and so it is even unto this day. He received a grant of land on the Hunter for his discovery, and was the first man who drove cattle into that district. The Bells of Pickering are his grandchildren.
George Cox, son of old William Can, married Miss Bell, of Belmont, and no the house on Belmont Hill became a sort of centre from which the Bells and the Con's radiated all over the country, so that today, wherever you go in Australia, you come across some members of those grand old families. On the hillside at Belmont sleeps old Archibald Bell, his wife, and his granddaughter. In the churchyard at Windsor, just across the river, sleeps old William Cox and his wife, the forefathers of the great race that fills the land to-day, and a new world has sprung up since they left the troubled young colony. We of the larger Commonwealth are just beginning to take an interest in the men who made our history, and as the years roll on, and Australia grows larger and more important, so will our interest increase in the early men who laid the foundations of our country. They braved the dangers of the deep in the olden time to found a new nation in the Southern Seas, and to-day we have proven our love to the old land. The men of the Cox type who laid the first timbers of Southern Empire are the ones who enabled us to sing—
'Shake out each fold of the ensign old—the emblem
fair and free
Of the island throne that's an Empire grown—tho flag that sweeps the sea;
The fag of the folk who with hearts of oak braved the uncharted sea.
For the old blood runs in Briton's sons, and, tho' the seas exile,
We bridge the wave with banners brave that float from isle to isle—
The flag of the Little Islands, and the flag of the Great South Isle!'
1. Memoranda by William Cox concerning rewards for services to
(p. 5483f. Bigge Appendix. Box 25.)—Bigge Report at State Library of NSW
2. "Curio" at State Library of NSW
* * *
Thomas Hobby—Assistant on the expedition: 500 acres of land and 6 cows.
Richard Lewis—Chief Superintendent: 200 acres, one horse and four cows.
John Tighe—Guide: 100 acres, two cows and £5.
Samuel Ayres—Servant to Mr Cox: Two cows.
James Watson—Leader of road workers.
James Dwyer—Leader of the fire making.
Thomas Gorman—Charge of stores.
William Dye, Samuel Freeman (William Freeman)—Rough carpenters.
Thomas Cooke, Thomas Carpenter—Sawyers.
Robert (Samuel) Fowler—Quarryman.
John Hanley (Robert Henley), Samuel Waters (Walters),
Henry (Charles) Cryer—Bullock drivers with Govt. carts.
Samuel Crook (Cook), Patrick Merrian (Mernan), John Allan, Thomas Adams, John Finch, Stephen Parker, Thomas Roddocks (Roddicks), John Manning, John Tindall, James Kelly, Matt Smith, Harry Sullivan, John Ross, William Lawrence, Thomas Kendall, Samuel Davis, Henry Morton (Martin), Thomas Watkins, James McCarty, William Appledore, Patrick Hanraghan (Henringham), Stephen Hockey (Huckey), (William Ramsay, George Keen).
The names in brackets are those included in the 1814 Muster who are described as being 'at the mountains' and are indicative of the variation in the spelling of surnames at this period.
The men were selected as being accustomed to field labour and supposed to be best calculated to undergo the fatigue of hard work and sleeping on the ground. The rewards of these convicts was as follows:—
Free pardons—Robert Fowler, William Appledore and James Dwyer.
Thomas Ruddocks (Roddicks)—a ticket-of-leave.
To all the others—emancipation.
This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia