The following text and photographs have been kindly supplied by Mrs Joan Edwards for use by the Blue Mountains Family History Society Inc. Copyright is held by J Edwards and no copying, unless under fair-dealing provisions, without permission is permitted.
The Blue Mountains, then known as Camarthan Hills, blocked the
westward expansion of the early settlement. Various attempts to
cross the mountains were thwarted when intrepid explorers were faced with almost vertical sandstone cliffs. William Patterson reported the need to carry their goods up 5 waterfalls within 10 miles.
The problem lay in their traditional approach. Elsewhere in the
world, mountains had been explored by following the rivers but our
Blue Mountains are not like other 1b mountains. It is a plateau which rose very
slowly, allowing the creeks and rivers to cut down and maintain
their courses. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson crossed the Nepean
River at Emu Ford then followed the ridges, rather than the valleys.
They heard Aborigines and saw their fires. The Dharug tribe inhabited
Their journey was not easy due to thick vegetation, rocks and yes,
they too, came across cliffs. Saturday, May 22nd, 1813. " ..
progress was stopped either Westward or south West by an impassable
Cliff of Rocks which appeared to divide the interior from the Coast
as with a Stone Wall rising immediately perpendicular, out of the
side of the Mountains.
." Gregory Blaxland's diary
King's Tableland in the middle distance
However they were unable to descend, from the cliff tops, so changed
their route. They reached what we now call Mt York, descended and
proceeded to Mt Blaxland. Hunger, exhaustion and illness forced
The route was surveyed by William Evans in 1813-14, and the road
constructed by William Cox with convict labour the following year.
The route of the present highway and railway vary little from the
original survey. The first road was contructed across the Mountains
by William Cox ands convict labour in 1814. Lachlan Macquarie was
the first Governor to cross the Mountains to Bathurst.