The Blue Mountains are situated west of
Sydneyand are part of the Great Dividing Range.
The Blue Mountains are one of the most scenic areas in
Australia. They are visited by many tourists and many people live in the townships scattered along the Great Western Highway, the principal road across the Mountains.
In the early days of the colony, based in
Sydney, the Blue Mountainswere viewed as a barrier to expansion westwards.
Many attempts were made to find a way across the
Blue Mountains. In 1813 Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth succeeded in finding a way across the Mountains. In fact they may have not been the first Europeans to conquer the Blue Mountains.
John Wilson, an escaped convict, explored the area between 1792 and 1797 and is likely to have found ways through the Mountains. Perhaps Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were considered to be more “respectable” than
so his achievements did not receive the recognition they deserved. This topic may be pursued by reading Chris Cunningham’s The Blue Mountains Rediscovered, 1996, Kangaroo Press. Wilson
It is likely that local Aboriginal people would know of ways through the Mountains as they moved through the country on trading expeditions.
The New South Wales Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, soon ordered the construction of a road across the Mountains. William Cox and a team of convicts and soldiers constructed the road that was finished in 1815. Governor Macquarie decided to travel across the road some after its completion. More work was required to allow passage of the Governor’s carriage. A huge boulder, on the western end of the Mountains at
, was chipped through to widen the road. The photograph shows the chipped boulder. Chisel marks are still visible on the flat face of this boulder. Mount York
Cox’s Road was in service until 1824 when Lawson’s Long Alley Road was constructed. This road was used until
was built in 1832. This pass allowed access off the western end of the Mountains and is still in use. Major Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor General ordered the construction of this significant section of the western road. Mitchell’s Bridge, part of Victoria Pass , was named after the Surveyor General. Mitchell’s Pass, on the eastern end of the Mountains was also named after Thomas as was a species of Cockatoo. Victoria Pass
Lockyer’s Road was the beginning of another road across the Mountains. Construction was commenced in 1829 from the bottom of
. Work ceased a few years later when the construction of Mount York began. Victoria Pass
Berghofer’s Pass was constructed parallel to
in 1912. Victoria Pass was too steep for early motor vehicles and Berghofer’s Pass had an easier grade. This Pass was in operation until 1920 when vehicles became powerful enough to use Victoria Pass. Victoria Pass
Remnants of Cox’s, Lawson’s and Berghofer’s Roads are all accessible from Mount York at the end of Mount York Road near Mount Victoria the most westerly town in the Blue Mountains. At
there are memorials to Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth and directions to the start of walks down Cox’s and Lawson’s Roads. Access to Berghofer’s Pass is also from the Mount York Mount York Road, closer to . The walk, along the Pass, is said to be one of the prettiest in the Mount Victoria Blue Mountains.
We are fortunate that so much remains of these early roads that allowed expansion of the colony to the western plains.