Passage over the Blue Mountains

The Sydney Gazette and New South ales Advertiser

12 February 1814

Government House, Sydney, 12th February, 1814.

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

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

Mr. Evans, attended by five men, selected for their general knowledge of the country, and habituated to such difficulties as might be expected to occur, was supplied with horses, arms, and ammunition, and a plentiful store of provisions for a two months tour.

His instructions were, that he should commence the ascent of the Blue Mountains, from the extremity of the present known country at Emu Island, distant about thirty-six miles from Sydney, and thence proceed in as nearly a west direction as the nature of the country he had to explore would admit, and to continue his Journey as far as his means would enable him.

On Saturday, the 20th of November last, the party proceeded from Emu Island, and on the 5th Day, having then effected their Passage over the mountains, arrived at the commencement of a valley on the western side of them, having passed over several tracts of tolerably good soil, but also over much rugged and very difficult mountain; proceeding through this valley, which Mr. Evans describes as beautiful and fertile, with a rapid stream running through it, he arrived at the termination of the tour lately made by Messrs. G. Blaxland, W., C. Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson.

Continuing in the western direction prescribed in his instructions for the course of 21 days from this station, Mr. Evans then found it, necessary to return, and on the 8th of January he arrived back at Emu Island, after an excursion of seven complete weeks. During the course of this tour, Mr. Evans passed over several plains of great extent, interspersed with hills and vallies abounding in the richest soil, and with various streams of water and chains of ponds.

The country he traversed measured 98 miles beyond the termination of Messrs. Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson's tour, and not less than 150 from Emu Island.

The greater part of these plains are described as being nearly free of timber and brush wood, and in capacity equal (in Mr. Evans's opinion) to every demand which this colony may have for an extension of tillage and pasture lands for a Century to come.

The stream already mentioned.continues its course in a westerly direction, and for several miles passing through the vallies, with many and great accessions of other streams, becomes a capacious and beautiful river, abounding in Fish of very large size and fine flavour, many of which weighed not less than 15lbs.

This river is supposed to empty itself into the ocean on the western side of New South Wales, at a distance of from 2 to 300 Miles from the termination of the tour. From the summits of some very high hills, Mr. Evans saw a vast extent of flat country laying in a westerly direction, which appeared to be bounded at a distance of about 40 Miles by other Hills.

The general description of these heretofore unexplored regions, given by Mr. Evans, as, that they very far surpass in beauty and fertility of soil any he has seen in New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land.

In consideration of the importance of these discoveries, and calculating upon the effect they may have on the future prosperity of this Colony, His Excellency the Governor is pleased to announce his intention of presenting Mr. Evans with a grant of 1000 Acres of land in Van Diemen's Land, where he is to be stationed as Deputy Surveyor; and further, to make him a pecuniary reward from the Colonial Funds, in acknowledgment of his diligent and active services on this Occasion.

His Excellency also means to make a pecuniary reward to the two Free Men who accompanied Mr. Evans, and a Grant of Land to each of them.

To the three Convicts who also assisted in this Excursion, the Governor means to grant Conditional Pardons; and a small portion of land to each of them, these Men having performed the Services required of them entirely to the satisfaction of Mr. Evans.

The Governor is happy to embrace this Opportunity of conveying His acknowledgments to Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth, Esquires, and Lieutenant William Lawson of the Royal Veteran Company, for their enterprizing and arduous exertions on the tour of discovery which they voluntarily performed in the month of May last, when they effected a passage over the Blue Mountains, and proceeded to the extremity of the first Valley particularly alluded to in Mr. Evans's tour, and being the first Europeans who had accomplished the passage over the Blue Mountains.

The Governor, desirous to confer on these gentlemen substantial marks of his sense of their meritorious exertions on this occasion, means to present each of them with a Grant of 1000 Acres of Land in this newly discovered Country.