Road Over The Blue Mountains

(previous ... Governor Lachlan Macquarie)

The most important result of Macquarie's activity was the opening up of new country. He had quite a passion for road building. On his arrival to the colony he found only 45miles of what was little better than bush tracks, yet when he left, there were over three hundred miles of excellent and substantial roads spreading in all directions from Sydney. He marked out towns such as Windsor, Richmond and Castlereagh in suitable places, then my making roads to them, he encouraged the freed convicts to leave Sydney and form little communities inland.

Cayley 

But his greatest achievement in the way of road making was the highway across the blue mountains. It will be remembered that theis range had for years presented an insurmountable barrier. Many people, including the intrepid George Bass, had attempted to cross it, but in vain. The only one who succeeded in just penetrating into the wild and rugged country was a man called Cayley, who stopped and the edge of an enormous precipice, where he could see no way of descending. He erected a pile pf stones at the location , which is now called Cayley's Repulse.

Wentworth, Lawson and Blaxland

But in 1813 three men by the names of Wentworth, Lawson and Blaxland succeeded in crossing. After labourious;y cutting through dense timbers which covered some of the ranges, they traversed a wild and desolate country, sometimes crawling along bare precipices and sometimes lost in dark and bleak ravines, but at length emerged on the beautiful plains to the west.

Road Built in 15 Months

On their return Governor Macquarie sent Surveyor Evans to examine the pass, and the report being favourable, lost no time in commencing the construction of a road over the mountains. The difficulties in his way were immense, for 50 miles of the road lay in the most rugged country, where great yawning chasms had to be bridged and often solid rock had to be cut away. Yet in 15 months a good carriage highway stretched from Sydney across the mountians. The Governor was able to take Mrs Macquarie on a trip to the fine pasture lands beyond, where he found a town and named it Bathurst, after Lord Bathurst the Secretary of State and not himself (surprisingly).

More Suitable Sheep Country

This road over the Blue Mountains was of great importance to the colony, for the land between the mountains and the sea was too limited and subject to too much drought to maintain the 250,000 sheep which the prosperous colony now possessed. Many squatters took their flocks along the road to Bathurst and settled down in the spacious pasture lands of the Macquarie and Lachlan Rivers.

(continues ... Governor Thomas Brisbane)

 

History of Australia