Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson
The Sydney Morning Herald
15 June 1895
In recent issues of your paper there have appeared two letters over the signatures of Messrs. Blaxland and Hay, individually commenting on the first passage made over the Blue Mountains by the three men above noticed.
In another issue of the 4th ultimo, you commented in a leader on the action taken by a few residents of Mount Victoria to in some way show that some steps should be taken to perpetuate the names of those patriotic, praiseworthy men, and suggested that the movement should devolve on the nation, not a province - a position it should doubtless fill, as no one will attempt to gainsay the fact that every inhabitant of the colony has (it may be indirectly) gained a benefit from the unrequited services of Blaxland and his two companions
As an Australian, and in my younger days an explorer and pioneer of that part of the continent now known as Queensland, I take a lively interest in all matters pertaining to the early explorations of Australia.
Quite recently I have carefully read over an authentic copy of Blaxland's journal.
Knowing the mountain region thoroughly well, I have been able to follow almost the footsteps of the successful explorers.
From the time they left Emu Plains their objective point was the mountain chain which they imagined to be the source of the Grose River.
So successfully did they follow that beacon that when they arrived at Mount Victoria, almost equidistant from the heads of the Grose and the Cox, they slightly deviated from their course, which had been slightly north-westerly, to a directly westerly one, thus striking the upper course of a tributary of the Cox - The Lett. From Blaxland's own writings there can be no doubt upon that point.
He wrote: "The party encamped by the side of a fine stream of water (the Lett), at a short distance from a high hill in the shape of a sugar loaf.
(That hill stands a little to the left of the Bathurst road between Mount Victoria and the old town of Hartley.) The stones at the bottom of the river appeared very fine, large, dark-coloured granite of a kind quite different from any stones which they had ever seen in the colony.
It is in that neighbourhood where the sandstone terminates and the granite makes its appearance.")
Vide W. B. Clark's geological work. "They now conceived that they had sufficiently accomplished the design of their undertaking, having succeeded in surmounting all the difficulties which had hitherto prevented the interior of the country from being explored and the colony from being extended.
They had partly cleared and marked a road by which the passage over the mountains might easily be effected.
Their provisions being nearly expended, and their clothes and shoes being in a bad condition, and the whole party ill suffering from bowel complaints, determined them to return home by the track they came.
On Tuesday, the 1st of June, they arrived at the foot of the mountain which they had descended (Mount York), where they encamped for the night.
The following day they began to ascend the mountain at 7 o'clock, and reached the summit at 10.
They were obliged to carry the packages part of the ascent."
From there they followed their old track back to Emu Plains, crossing the Hawkesbury on the 6th June, where Penrith now stands.
On their return to Sydney they furnished Governor Macquarie with a report of their proceedings.
He shortly afterwards sent out Assistant-surveyor Evans and a small gang of convicts to more clearly define the track and extend it.
Not many rods distant from where Blaxland and his company descended Mount York Evans cut a road down; in many places the marks of the pick-points in the soft sandstone are plainly visible, also a broad arrow coloured with red paint. I
t was on the same road that Governor Macquarie drove the first vehicle which ever crossed the mountains.
The Mount Victoria Progress Committee, attaching some value to those historical points, have erected finger-posts, and rustic benches for the guidance and comfort of visitors, a great number of whom weekly visit the scene, a good road from Mount Victoria to the point of Mount York having been formed.
It has therefore been clearly demonstrated that it was from the view obtained from Mount York that Blaxland and his party ascertained that their achievements had been crowned with success, and it should be on the western point of that mountain that a structure should be erected, at the colony's expense, to the memory of those hitherto unrewarded, departed philanthropists.
June 8. I am, &c., J. D. A. M.