Bicentenary of The Crossing of the Blue Mountains


Commemorative Events to celebrate the crossing commenced in May 2013 and will continue until 2015.

Crossing the Great Divide –  some background information..


The crossing of the Blue Mountains is often referred to as the most significant milestone in early Australian history. It successfully averted the abandonment of the colony, enabling access to fertile plains in the west.

From the colony’s inception in 1788 at Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour), the Blue Mountains represented an impenetrable barrier of sandstone and scrub: both a natural containment for the colony’s convict inhabitants and an obstacle to the much-needed resources required to feed them.

In just three years, from 1813 to 1815, European settlers broke through the barrier, constructed a road linking the colony to the western plains, and founded the colony’s first major inland town of Bathurst:

• In May 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth set off on the first successful European crossing of the Blue Mountains. Tracing what is now the Great Western Highway route between Glenbrook and Mount Victoria, the explorers reached Mount York before descending into the Kanimbla (now Hartley) Valley and then ascending Mount Blaxland, arriving back at the colony a month later in June

• Governor Lachlan Macquarie then commissioned surveyor George Evans to document the party’s discoveries. Evans’ expedition from November 1813 to January 1814 reached the present site of Bathurst, extending European knowledge of the interior

• On Macquarie’s orders, William Cox began the construction of a 165-kilometre road from the eastern foothills of Emu Crossing (now Emu Plains) to Bathurst in July 1814. Cox completed this job in just six months with the labour of 30 convicts

• In May 1815 Macquarie, his wife Elizabeth and an expedition party spent 11 days travelling the length of the new, bumpy and occasionally steep ‘Great Western Road’. Macquarie proclaimed the site of the first major inland settlement in Australia, which he named ‘Bathurst’ after the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Macquarie officially sanctioned the colonial settlement of the western plains, in particular by crop-growers

This information was sourced from and more detailed information can be found on this official crossings site.

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