Journal Kept by Mr Cox in making a road across the Blue Mountains from Emu Plains to a new country discovered by Mr Evans to the Westward. [Cox’s journal, C708-2, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales]
The original can be viewed online on the State Library website
Saturday 7 July 1814
After holding conversation with his Excellency the Governor at Sydney relative to the expedition, I took leave of him this day.
Wednesday 11 July 1814
Began converting a cart into a caravan to sleep in, as well as to take my own personal baggage, which was completed on the 16th.
Tuesday 17 July 1814
Left Clarendon at 9 a.m.; arrived at Captain Woodriff’s farm at noon. The carts from Richmond arrived at 2 p.m., and at 4 the 2 carts and waggon arrived from Sydney with provisions, slops, tools etc. Mustered the people and issued bread to them.
Monday 18 July 1814
At daylight gave out the tools to handle and put in order. Issued half a week’s provisions to the whole party. Began work at 10 a.m. to make a pass across the NepeanRiver; the banks are very steep at the east side. In the afternoon issued to the workmen a suit of slops and a blanket each man (30 in number). In examining the slops 2 pair shoes and 3 pair trousers was deficient. Gorman, who had charge, states the case had been broken open when he took it out of the Parramatta store. Wrote to his Excellency the Governor for additional bullocks and some small articles of tools. Weather fine, clear and frosty.
Tuesday 19 July 1814
Finished the road down the right bank of the river. The swamp oak on Emu side very hard to cut and root. In the afternoon began our operations on Emu Plains. A complaint being made of the pork, which was issued as six pound pieces, were very deficient. I examined the Commissary’s return, which stated there were 53 six pound pieces in each cask. Counted the remaining, and found 51 left. Examined the mess book, and found 18 pieces had been issued, making 69 instead of 53. Weighed the 51 pieces, and they weighed 24lb. over 4lb. pieces quite wet with brine and salt. Ordered Gorman to issue the remainder as 4 pound pieces until further orders.
Wednesday 20 July 1814
Sent the smith to Field’s to make 4 new axes and steel 2 of the English ones. Gave him 20 lb. of iron and 4 lb. steel. Fine, dry weather.
Thursday 21 July 1814
The smith completed the axes and steeled 5 others. Much trouble today with the axes; the timber being hard they all turned. Kept the grindstone constantly going. Made good progress on Emu Plains; the men worked very well. Weather clear and frosty.
Friday 22 July 1814
The smith steeled 2 more axes, and made nails. The working gangs removed about 2 miles to the south-west on Emu Plains. Wind very high in the afternoon. One of the fellers, William Lonain, received a hurt in the face and shoulder from the limb of the tree falling on him. Hard frost and clear.
Saturday 23 July 1814
Hard frost and clear weather. Sent all provisions, tools, etc. to a hut on the banks of the left side of the river, which hutt is fitted up to receive our provisions as they arrive from Sydney. Gave the blacksmith his tools, iron and steel etc. Lonain, who was hurt yesterday, very much better. Wrote to the Governor for 2 more pit-saws, iron and steel. Examined the ground leading from Emu Plain and fixed on the spot to cross the creek at, as well as one to begin ascending the mountain. The soldiers with Gorman and Kelly all went for Emu Plains this day.
Sunday 24 July 1814
Examined the ground and marked the road from the creek on Emu Plains to the first depot (with Lewis). Gave a pound of tobacco to Edward Field for a lot of cabbage, which I gave to the workmen. Purchased 4 cwt. 1 qr of potatoes for myself to send forward to the depot, at 10/- per cwt delivered at Martin’s. The workmen exerted themselves during the week, much to my satisfaction.
Monday 25 July 1814
Finished a crossing place over the creek, and worked from the creek to the crossing-place where you ascend the mountain. Sent the 2 carpenters to the depot to build a tent-hut, and put in order the depot fit for the receipt of the provisions, etc. Cloudy weather, but dry.
Tuesday 26 July 1814
Made a complete crossing-place from the end of Emu Plains to the foot of the mountains, and began to work up them. The ascent is steep; the soil very rough and stony; the timber chiefly ironbark. Sent the stonemason to the depot to build or line the chimney, as also the smith to put up his forge. Sent the superintendent with a man to mark the road from the depot through the brush to the next forest ground, a distance of about 5½ miles. Ordered the corporal and soldiers to prepare to remove in the morning from the bank of the river to the depot, with a cartload of provisions, and there to remain until further orders.
Wednesday 27 July 1814
Removed the soldiers and provisions from the left bank of the river to the depot. Worked up the mountains; measured the ground from the ford in the river to the creek leading from Emu Plains to the mountains, 3 miles; marked the trees at the end of each mile, at the left side of the road. Removed my caravan from the river to the depot on the mountains, a distance of 5 miles and 3 quarters and slept there the first night.
Thursday 28 July 1814
Went to Clarendon, and left charge with Richard Lewis.
Monday 1 August 1814
Left Clarendon at 10 a.m. and arrived at the depot at 2 p.m. Found the road completed to the said depot, much to my satisfaction.
Tuesday 2 August 1814
The workmen go on with much cheerfulness, and do their work well. Gave them a quantity of cabbage as a present. After dinner I gave directions to Lewis to inform Burne he was to take the three forward fellers to fire-making. Soon after he, Burne, came to me and said he would not receive any orders from Lewis, but would obey any I gave him, on which I told him I should send any orders I had to give to him by whom I pleased. He went away but soon returned again and said he would leave us, on which I ordered the constable to receive his gun and ammunition, and he went away. Ordered him to be struck off the store and informed the party he was discharged from being a superintendent under me, and had nothing more do with either me or them.
Wednesday 3 August 1814
Sent the two working gangs with their bedding etc. 2 miles forward. Lewis was marking though a thick brush about 2 miles ahead. Heard the report of a gun, and soon after heard the chattering of natives on which they returned and reported the same. Gave notice to the sergeant to provide a corporal and three men to go forward and take up their quarters with the working men. The second pork cask being issued, found it to contain 74 pieces, on which I had the third cask opened, and the pieces counted by the sergeant and Gorman in my presence. It contained 74 pieces. Brought the remaining provisions from the Emu Plains and had the store room completed with a lock on the door etc. Fine weather. Cleared the road to the entrance of a thick brush 2 miles and a half ahead.
Thursday 4 August 1814
Removed from the depot to 7½ miles forward, as also the corporal and 3 privates. Lewis got leave to go to Richmond and return again on Sunday next. The men at work in a very thick, troublesome brush. A fine day, but close. The wind in the evening got round to the southwards.
Friday 5 August 1814
Timber both thick and heavy, with a thick, strong brush, the roots of which are very hard to grub up, making it altogether extremely hard work.
Saturday 6 August 1814
Timber and scrub brush the same as yesterday, but got through it this evening and measured the new road and found we had completed 9 miles. Marked the trees at the end of each mile. Went forward and found a good-sized piece of forest ground, with good water, to the right of our intended road, about 1 mile and a half ahead. The men all healthy and cheerful. Mr Hobby joined me last evening. The people all moved forward to the end of 9 miles.
Sunday 7 August 1814
Removed to the 9th mile on the road. Sent a man from each gang to the depot to draw their rations. Wrote to his Excellency the Governor.
Monday 8 August 1814
Timber and brush very heavy and thick from the 9th mile to the 10th. Thomas Kendall ill, unable to work. Mr. Hobby, with Richard Lewis with John Tye went forward about 4 miles to mark the trees. Two natives from Richmond joined us; one shot a kangaroo for us.
Tuesday 9 August 1814
Fine weather continues. Good water at 7½ miles to the right of the road, ditto at 8½ to the left of the road; ditto at 9½ to the left. Good forest ground down in a valley at 9½ miles to the right. Mr Evans came to us just before sunset.
Wednesday 10 August 1814
Mr Evans left us for Sydney at 2 p.m. Removed forward to 9½ miles. The workmen remain a little behind us. Kendall somewhat better and undertook the cooking for his mess.
Thursday 11 August 1814
Clear weather. The wind very strong from the westward made it dangerous in felling the timber, which is both heavy and thick. Workmen removed to 10½ miles. Water there to the right of the road. The smith set up his forge; employed in repairing tools. Mr Hobby with Lewis and Tye went forward 6 miles and marked the road for the fellers. Gave the people a quantity of cabbage.
Friday 12 August 1814
Mr Hobby went to Castlereagh. Fine weather with icy wind. Gorman reported there was not any meat and sugar arrived and that he had only 14 four-pound pieces left in store, and no sugar.
Saturday 13 August 1814
At daylight sent Lewis to the depot with a letter to Mrs Cox to send me out immediately 300 lb. of beef to serve to the people in lieu of salt pork. Gave orders to the corporal to send Private Ashford to the depot and for Sergeant Bounds to send me Carrol in lieu of him, the former being ill and not fit for the advance party. He has not done any duty this week past. Measured 11 miles this morning, and this evening got through the brush ground which has given us very hard work since leaving the depot, the timber being heavy and the brush strong. Gave orders to all hands to remove forward tomorrow morning to the forest ground about half a mile ahead of our work.
Sunday 14 August 1814
Removed to the forest ground. Sent Lewis with a letter for the Governor informing him we were without meat or sugar.
Monday 15 August 1814
Fine morning, and being out of the brush had six fellers at work. At 9 a.m. arrived a cart from Clarendon with a side of beef 386 lb., 60 cabbages, two bags of corn, for the men.
Tuesday 16 August 1814
Firemaking on the 12 mile ridge. Timber very heavy, thick and long; extremely troublesome to get rid of. Having no sugar borrowed 40 lb. of Mr Hobby and gave 1 lb. to each man.
Wednesday 17 August 1814
Removed forward to a hill ahead of the workmen. Water at 11½ miles to the left; ditto at 12 to the right; ditto at 12½ to the left; ditto at 13½ to the right. At the three first places in very small quantities; at the latter plenty with a place fit to drive stock to water. The timber on the forest from 11 ½ miles to 13 very tall and thick. Measured a dead tree which was fell that was 81 feet to the beginning of the head, and at 13½ [miles] a blood tree 15 ft 6 inches in circumference. There is some good stringy bark timber on this forest ground.
Thursday 18 August 1814
The wind very high these last two nights, and this evening stormy but the wind blew off the rain. Measured the 13th mile this evening; just entered a scrub brush with stunted timber. Mr Hobby returned this day, got 2 lbs of shoemakers thread from Clarendon and put Henderson one of our men to repair shoes during the week. The smith employed this week in making and repairing tools and nails for the men’s shoes. The stonemason went forward to examine a rocky ridge about 3 miles ahead and on Monday next he is to go there to work to level the ground.
Friday 19 August 1814
At 9 o’clock left the party for Clarendon. Mr Hobby and Lewis left in charge. Stephen Parker ran a splinter just under his ankle last evening; unable to work today.
Friday 26 August 1814
At 10 a.m. arrived at Martin’s where I found the sergeant of the party, he having died there the day before. Sent to Windsor to the sergeant commanding there for a coffin and party to bury him at Castlereagh, but Sergeant Ray sent for the corpse to bury it at Windsor. Wrote to the Governor for another sergeant and sent back Corporal Harris to the depot, there to remain until relieved. Called at the first depot at 12. Ordered a cask of pork to be opened; counted the pieces in the presence of Gorman, my son Henry, and a soldier; it contained 75 pieces. Arrived at the working party at 2 p.m. Found Mr Hobby well. The road finished during my absence. Done well. Lewis left the party on Monday last, very ill of a sore throat.
Saturday 27 August 1814
Measured to the 16th mile, immediately after which the ground got very rocky, and in half a mile we came to a high mountain, which will cost much labour to make a road over. Got 2 natives who promise to continue with us – Joe from Mulgoa and Coleby from Richmond.
Sunday 28 August 1814
Removed with all the people to a little forward of the 16th mile. (Lewis returned.)
Monday 29 August 1814
Commenced operations on the mountain, with all the men. Continued the same on Tuesday, except with the fellers who went forward on the next ridge. Had to remove an immense quantity of rock, both in going up the mountain and in the pass leading to the bluff on the west end of it. Examined the high rock well and fixed on making a road off it from the bluff instead of winding round it. Began cutting timber and splitting stuff to frame the road off the rock to the ridge below it, about 20 feet in depth. The men worked extremely hard and smart to-day.
Sick List, Monday
Samuel Davis, splinter in his hand
Thomas Kendall, ill from a bad cold
Stephen Parker, from sick list to work this day.
Wednesday 31 August 1814
All hands employed at the bridge.
Thursday 1 September 1814
Retained eight men to work at the bridge. Sent the rest forward to roadmaking. Sent back Walter’s bullocks to Emu, and received Myers’ team.
Saturday 3 September 1814
Augmented the men at work on the pass and the bridge to ten, both yesterday and today. The road finished to Caley’s heap of stones 17 ¾ miles.
Sunday 4 September 1814
Removed to the bridge the working road gang. Removed forward to Caley’s pile. No water for stock near the bridge, nor a blade of grass. The water we get is near a mile distant, and that in a tremendous gully to the right. Went forward to Caley’s pile, and from thence up the rock to Evans’ cave. You get a view of the country from north-west round to south and SSW as far as the eye can carry you from hence. The land to the west is still higher. The country to the northward appears extremely hilly with nothing but rocks and timber. To the east there appears much level country. Windsor and various parts of cleared land is seen from hence.
Monday 5 September 1814
Davis returned to labour; Kendall to cooking. Appledore ill; splinter in the foot. Set the following persons to the pass and bridge:
2 quarrymen and blasters
2 cutting timber
Blacksmith employed repairing tools and making shoe nails. Shoemaker mending and nailing shoes. The remainder of the men employed in roadmaking forward under the direction of Mr Hobby and Richard Lewis. John Tye got a week’s leave on Friday last to go to Windsor. Sent a soldier on Thursday last to the Governor for blocks, augurs, iron etc.
Tuesday 6 September 1814
All hands employed as before.
Wednesday 7 September 1814
One extra man brought back to assist at the bridge and pass. Soldier returned from Sydney.
Thursday 8 September 1814
Men at work as yesterday. The wind has been very high and cold from the westward since Sunday last and last night it blew a perfect hurricane. Saw a few flying showers yesterday, but we got scarcely any rain and it appears the wind will carry it away. The country about here very barren. No kangaroo to be seen. Shot one pheasant with tail complete; shot 2 others without tails. It appears to be too early in the season for them, as their tails are some just shooting out and others not at full length. Scarcely any small birds to be seen.
Friday 9 and Saturday 10 September 1814
Workmen employed as before. The bridge rises very fast and the quarrymen get well on with the stonework.
Sunday 11 September 1814
Went 3 miles forward to examine the road with Mr Hobby and Lewis. From the bridge it continues rocky over two or three small passes to Caley’s pile; from thence at least two miles further the mountain is nearly a solid rock. At places high broken rocks; at others very hanging or shelving, which makes it impossible to make a level good road. The more the road is used the better it will be.
Monday 12 September 1814
No person on the sick list. Continued with 10 men to get on at the bridge and pass until Thursday night when it was completed all but the handrails and battening the planks. Gave orders for six men to pack up and go forward in the morning, leaving to complete bridge 2 sawyers and 2 carpenters, which I expect they will complete in 3 or 4 days. Sent forward part of our heavy luggage, and intend removing myself tomorrow. Issued a pair of strong shoes to each man. The bridge we have completed is 80 feet long; 15 feet wide at one end and 12 feet at the other. 35 feet of it is planked, the remainder filled up with stone. The fall from the bluff end of the rock was about 20 feet before we began to work. At the left there is a side wall cut from the solid rock. At the right where the ground is lower we have put up a rough stone wall about 100 feet long, which makes the pass to the bridge quite a lane. It is steep from the top of the mountain quite to the lower end of the bridge, a distance altogether of about 400 feet. The bridge and pass has cost me the labour of 12 men for 3 weeks, during which time they worked very hard and cheerful. It is now complete – a most strong, solid bridge, and will I have no doubt be reckoned also a good-looking one by travellers that pass through the mountains.
Friday 16 September 1814
Removed forward; found the road completed to 21 miles. At the latter end of this the ground was completely covered with gum roots. Was obliged to turn all hands to grubbing and finishing the road, and with very hard labour nearly completed the 22nd mile by Saturday night.
Sunday 18 September 1814
Went forward to examine the road about 3 miles ahead. Got on very high ground. The greater part of the scrub burnt here last summer and the trees also much burnt.
Monday 19 September 1814
Removed forward ahead of the cleared road. Went as far as the firemakers had finished. Shot several small new birds the last week and also a young cockatoo, quite mottled or cuckoo colour. There was an old one and 3 young ones in company, which is the only ones we have seen of this sort. Ordered Ayers to bring forward a load of provisions on Wednesday next. Kept a strong party at the grub hoe.
Tuesday 20 to Saturday 24 September 1814
Kept all hands at roadmaking, and they did a very good week’s work having completed 4 miles of good road this week. Removed on Saturday to the 26th mile being just at the foot of a steep mountain. Examined it well and found it too steep to ascend in a straight direction.
Sunday 25 September 1814
Went up the mountain; examined it and fixed on the way to make a winding road up. This is the highest mountain in the whole range we cross. From it Windsor stores etc. are distinctly seen as are the wheat fields, farmhouses, etc. There is a river running to the eastward about a mile south of this, the banks of which are so high and steep it is not possible to get down. This river empties itself into the Nepean about 4 or 6 miles higher up than Emu Plains. Went forward to fix on a spot for a second depot. Chose one about 2 miles ahead, close to a small stream of excellent water. We have found water in much greater quantities these last 6 miles than we did before, and all very good.
Monday 26 September 1814
Sent forward 2 sawyers and 2 other men to procure the necessary timber etc. for the second depot. Set 10 men to work on making the road up the mountain. The remainder at work as usual roadmaking. Sent Thomas Randall to the Windsor Hospital, sick. Patrick Handrigan ill with a badly sprained ankle.
Tuesday 27 September 1814
Finished the road up the mountain this evening. Made a very good job of it (cost 10 men 2 days). The ground extremely rough and rocky for about a mile between the high mountain and second depot.
Wednesday 28 September 1814
Worked at the road forward to the 2nd depot, where we removed on Thursday morning. The rocky ground we had to pass over was very troublesome, being obliged to turn out of the road a very large quantity of stone, it being too hard to break with the sledgehammers.
Saturday 1 October 1814
Began on Friday to put up the building for the second depot. The situation is very pleasant being on a ridge high enough in the front (which is due east) to overlook the standing timber altogether, and at the back there is a considerable quantity of ground without a tree and a rivulet of fine spring water running through it. On this ground there is the grass tree and other coarse food which the bullocks eat and fill themselves pretty well. The building for the store is 17 feet by 12, with 3 feet sides, gable-ended, all weather-boarded and a door at the east end. Got well on with it by this evening. Finished on the 8th inst. Cost me 8 men, 6 days. It is just 28 miles from Emu Ford.
Monday 3 October 1814
Sick list: Handrigan lame, sprained ankle. Several men have bad colds, but none laid up. Sawyers, carpenters, and smith all at work at the depot. The remainder gone forward to roadmaking.
Tuesday 4 October 1814
Went forward to see the workmen. At the 29th mile is a very handsome long reach, quite straight, which I call from the layer of it out ‘Hobby’s Reach’. Finished the road this evening to the 30th mile. The carpenters getting well on with the depot. Nothing left to be done but weatherboarding part of the roof. Sent Walters to the first depot to bring forward the sergeant and Gorman to the second depot. Gave charge of all the bullocks to Walters and ordered Cryer to labour for his bad management and inattention to the bullocks. There are many large emmets or ant hills in this part of the mountain. I measured one at the 26th mile of a sugarloaf shape which was 6 feet high and 20 feet round at the bottom. Stephen Parker laid up with a cold today. The blacksmith employed in steeling axes and grub hoes, and repairing other tools; at other times making nails for the 2nd depot. At 5 p.m. my servant arrived with horses from Clarendon, and tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. intend returning there, leaving the party under the direction of Mr. Hobby and Richard Lewis. Wrote to the Governor to inform him of my going, stating to him the arrangements etc. I had made.
[There is a break of 18 days in the journal at this point, as Cox has returned to his home at Clarendon, near Richmond.]
Saturday 22 October 1814
Having made my arrangements at Clarendon and Mulgoa with respect to my sheep and ensuing harvest, and attended his Excellency the Governor at the muster, I left Clarendon on Saturday afternoon in a single horse chaise, and slept at Castlereagh.
Sunday 23 October 1814
At half-past 5 this morning left Mr Fulton’s. Remained 2 hours at the first and 2 at the second depot to examine the stores and make arrangements for forwarding the provisions etc. for the people; and at 6 p.m. came up with the working party at the 39th mile to which place the road was completed having finished, during my absence of 2 weeks and 4 days, nine miles. Found Mr Hobby and all the party in good health. On Monday morning Mr H. returned in my chaise to the Nepean for a week or 10 days, and for want of grass I also sent back my saddle horse to Clarendon. On Sunday evening Richard Lewis returned from the end of the mountains, about 10 miles forwards, having been with 3 men to examine the mountain that leads down to the forest ground. His report is that the descent is near half a mile down and extremely steep; that it is scarcely possible to make a road down and that we cannot get off the mountain to the northwards to make a road; that is appears to him much more difficult now he has examined the hill, to get down than he was before aware of.
Monday 24 October 1814
Set all hands to work roadmaking, including blacksmith, carpenter, stonemasons etc. being extremely anxious to get forward and ascertain if we can descend the mountains to the southwards before we get to the end of the ridge of them.
Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 October 1814
The men continued the same work and getting on extremely well. Wrote to His Excellency the Governor for a further supply of gunpowder to enable us to blow up the rocks in our way; as also rope and blocks to expedite us in building bridges and getting off the mountain.
Monday 31 October 1814
The weather appears to be broken up. All hands went to work at ½ past 5 in the morning. The men removed to the 44th mile this evening. The high short ridge of mountains seen from Windsor was this day observed at 43¼ miles, bearing north 60, East, distant about 8 miles by computation. A table rock seen by us from the rocks near Caley’s pile to our right, and from all high lands since, was observed today at 43 miles bearing ENE distant about 2 miles. Two parties of natives are seen in the low lands to the westward. One within about 2 miles from us; the other about 6 miles.
Tuesday 1 November 1814
Fine weather. Three persons sent to examine the mountains to the left to find a place to make a road down to the forest ground. Returned unsuccessful.
Wednesday 2 November 1814
Fine morning. Thunder with light showers after. Sent 3 men again to examine the descent off the mountains, and ascertained that there is no other way but from the bluff end originally marked. Tomorrow I intend going to survey it as a road must be there made to get off the mountain.
Thursday 3 November 1814
At 6 this morning went forward with Lewis, Tye and a soldier to examine the mountain at the end of the ridge 4 miles ahead. Found it much worse than I expected. It commences with going down steep between immense large rocks, when it opens with a very steep gully in front, and round to the left it falls off so steep that it is with much difficulty a person can get down at all. The whole front of the mountain is covered with loose rock, at least two-thirds of the way down; and on the right and left it is bounded both by steep gullies and rocks, so that we cannot, by winding short to the left, get half length sufficient to gain ground to get down without a number of circular turns both to the right and left, and in that case the hill is so very steep about half a mile down that it is not possible to make a good road to go down and up again without going to a very great expense. I have therefore made up my mind to make such a road as a cart can go down empty or with a very light load without a possibility of it being able to return with any sort of load whatever; and such a road will also answer to drive stock down to the forest ground. After getting down this said mountain we got into very pretty forest ground and went as far as Blaxland’s rivulet, about 2 miles. The grass on it is in general of a good quality; some silky, some hard, intermingled with rib grass, buttercup and thistle. The timber is thin, and kangaroos plenty. In returning back we had to clamber up the mountain and it completely knocked me up.* It is a very great drawback to the new country as no produce can be brought from thence to headquarters except [word unclear] beef and mutton. The sheep will also be able to bring their fleeces up and be shorn on the mountains, or driven to the 2nd depot for this purpose. In either case wagons can fetch the wool. Gorman came forward with a cartload of provisions. From him I learn that Walters has got some fresh Government bullocks at the first depot, but that he could not harness them they were so wild. Sent another man down to assist him. Also sent a man to bring up the remainder of the bullocks that are unable to work from lameness or poverty, to get them down the mountains where there is good food. The Government bullocks have not carried a single load of anything for me since Sunday week last. Made an agreement with Sergeant Minehan and another man for their horse and a cart to remain with us until we have performed the whole of our work, and the sergeant went to the Hawkesbury for them. John Tindall received a hurt in his arm from the fall of a tree. Removed all hands this morning to 45½ miles. Put up the forge for the blacksmith to repair all our tools for the Herculean mountain. Issued to all hands a gill of spirits.
Friday 4 November 1814
Sent 3 men to examine all the ridges and gullies to the northwards, offering a reward if they found a better way down. All returned unsuccessful. Removed to 47th mile.
Saturday 5 November 1814
Wind to the east, rain and cold. All hands employed on the road. The blacksmith made 8 pikes for self defence against the natives. Lewis and a party took the dogs down to the forest ground. Killed a fine kangaroo, weight about 120 lb. Examined the big Mountain and fixed on the spot where to begin on Monday morning, having given up all thoughts of attempting it elsewhere. John Manning sprained his ankle in bringing up a keg of water from the rocks below. Thomas Raddick ill; believe it arises from the wet weather. There is a timber here which appears to have all the property of the ash. In its young state it is easily transplanted, as the plants are like the white thorn. It grows quickly, tall and straight, bends to anything. When large it splits well and will, I have no doubt, make very good hoops. In its appearance it is like the black butted gum but the leaves are unlike them. The bark ties much better than the stringy bark. In felling the timber trees it cut remarkably free, and in order to try it I cut a small one down and quartered it, which I mean to send to Clarendon and try them for light cart or chaise shafts.
Sunday 6 November 1814
Rainy morning, began to clear up about noon. Received a letter from the Governor dated the 2nd. Sent a man S. Davis to Sydney with a letter for the Governor at 2 p.m. to bring up powder and spirits.
Monday 7 November 1814
Mr. Hobby joined me this morning. At 6 a.m. went forward with 10 men to commence operations for a road down the mountains. Light rain and heavy fogs.
Tuesday 8 November 1814
Employed the same hands in the same manner. Light rain as before. The men very wet and uncomfortable, their clothes and bedding being also wet.
Wednesday 9 November 1814
Removed forward to the extreme end of the mountains as did also the whole of the party. The rocks here are so lofty and undermined that the men will be able to sleep dry and keep their little clothing dry also, which is what they have not been able to do this last fortnight. Left 12 men to finish up the road; all the rest employed with myself. Cold rain set in about noon. Wind S.West.
Thursday 10 November 1814
Rainy morning. Cleared up at 9 o’clock. Got a good day’s work done. Evening fine and starlight.
Friday 11 November 1814
Rain commenced before daylight and continued the whole day. Wind south and very cold. Sent Thomas Raddocks to Windsor being very ill. Samuel Freeman the carpenter laid up with a cold and swollen face. James Dwyer ill; pain in the side and breast. Sent 2 carts to the 2nd depot for provisions. Sent the men (3) out with the dogs to catch kangaroos three times this week. Brought home one each day. The bullock driver with 11 bullocks joined me yesterday. All they have done this last fortnight has been to bring me one cargo of biscuits from the 1st depot to this place (43 miles). Turned the bullocks down the mountain to the forest ground where I intend letting them remain to recover themselves until we want to remove forward towards the Fish River. One of them is quite blind. He got into the gully going down, but we got him out to-day quite safe.
Saturday 12 November 1814
A very fine day. Wind east and cold. Completed the road to the beginning of the large mountain where we have to descend to the forest ground. Measured it up; it is 48 miles 50 chains. Continued to clear away the timber and rubbish through the large rocks, and to the beginning of the bluff end of the mountains. Two men on the sick list.
Sunday 13 November 1814
Went down to the forest ground, from thence to the rivulet, and traced it to the river about five miles down. Went 1 mile down the river and came back on the high lands, exploring the best ground for a road. The grass on the greater part of the land we went over today is good, the timber thin. The ground is hilly but sound; some parts of it near the rivulet and river is rocky but no iron stone, it being rather of a sandy soil and very good pasture for sheep. The ground on the other side of the rivulet appears also to be equally good for food, thinly timbered and very hilly with good grass clear up to the mountains. The river runs nearly east, and from its course must empty itself into the NepeanRiver. The horse carts arrived today from the 2nd depot. They brought very small loads indeed. Ordered 2 of the carts to go tomorrow to the 1st depot and to return here again on Sunday next loaded. Saw the working bullocks this morning. They are improving quite fast. Mustered the whole of the tools, harness, etc.; found nearly all right. Ground the axes and put the grub hoes and picks in order to begin tomorrow. Ordered Gorman to issue 4 lbs. biscuits and 8 lbs. of flour to each mess, instead of 6 lbs. each, the biscuits running short and also too bulky to bring so far, being about 90 miles from headquarters.
Monday 14 November 1814
James Dwyer, cold, pains in limbs
Samuel Freeman, cold, swelled face
Samuel Crook, cold, bad eyes
Patrick Hanrigan, cold, pains in limbs
Samuel Walters, hurt by a bullock.
The extreme wet weather we had for a fortnight before we arrived here has given most of the men colds, but as they are now dry lodged, and in addition to their own ration have fresh kangaroo at least three times a week, it is to be hoped they will soon recover. So many men sick, and chiefly very useful ones, breaks in on our working party much, and the continuous rain also prevents so much work being done as I could wish. Fine morning, at noon thunder with rain and hail. Wind east, very cold. Steady rain all the evening. Got on erecting the bridge at the beginning of the descent off the mountain, and blowing up the rocks that are in the line of our intended road down to the forest. Find it difficult work, and will cost us much labour.
Tuesday 15 November 1814
Five men sick. Sent Mr. Hobby with Lewis and Tye to trace a ridge that leads to the river a little below Blaxland’s rivulet, it being my wish to cross the river in preference to crossing the rivulet twice. The report was favourable but the water being too high they could not cross the river. Intend going myself the first fine day I can leave the work. Got on well with our work at the mountain. Fixed two large trees as side pieces, one 45 feet, the other 50 feet long. Fine weather; wind east, thunder at noon but no rain.
Wednesday 16 November 1814
Dwyer and Crook returned to labour. Sullivan laid up sick. Most beautiful morning. Thunder at noon. Thunder in the evening with showers. Got a very good day’s work done. The rocks cut extremely hard and cost us much labour. Sent Lewis and Tye back to the 37th mile to see a working bullock left there 3 weeks since. Found it in so bad a state from sore feet and unable to walk to feed that they killed it.
Thursday 17 November 1814
Sick list: Freeman, Walters, Sullivan. Fine day. Worked on the front of the mountain. The ground extremely hard and very large rocks as we dig into it. Some we blow up but the greater part we turn out with long levers and crowbars. Kept six men at cutting and blowing up the rocks, two splitting posts and rails, and it is as much as the smith can do to keep their tools in order.
Friday 18 November 1814
Hard at work on the rocks this day. Kept our six pickaxes at work, and William Appledore (a sailor) fixed the tackle and blocks to trees and got a most capital purchase to turn out an immense large rock at the side of the mountain in the way of our road, which he performed well. Two men received slight hurts in doing it by one of the purchases slipping (John Tindall and T. Adams). This rock would have cost me at least 5 lb. of powder to have blown it up. Two carts arrived with provisions and brought a supply of gunpowder and a keg of spirits.
Saturday 19 November 1814
Fine morning. Work as on Friday. At 5 p.m. heavy thunder with hail storms and rain continued about 2 hours. Sent the sergeant with a two-horse cart, to the 2nd depot to bring away Gorman and the remainder of the stores. Discharged six men, with three carts and six horses, from the mountains work, namely, John Crowley, John Toone, Michael Bryan, Sam Stanley, Samuel Whitney, Patrick Haddrigaddy.
Sunday 20 November 1814
At 7 in the morning went with Mr. Hobby, Lewis and Tye to examine the rivulet, river and ground as far as Blaxland’s Mount to find out the best passage across the water, as also to mark the road to it. After going on different ridges and examining the crossing places we got to the foot of the mount at noon, where we remained an hour and refreshed. Immediately after leaving it we crossed a small swamp to look at another ridge when my horse got stuck in a bog and plunged until he fell. I had no hurt but got wet through. Pulled off my clothes, wrung it and left it in the sun an hour when it was tolerably dry. Crossed the lower rivulet on our return just by the junction, in doing which Mr. Hobby’s horse stumbled and threw him into the water, which from the late heavy rains run quite rapid. Came from thence back on the north side of the rivulet and crossed it about three miles further up. The ground on this side is better for food than any we have yet seen. It is extremely hilly; the timber thin, the ground perfectly sound intermixed in places with large loose rocks, and the sort of grass fit for horn cattle or sheep. It is also very well watered as stock can go to almost any part of the rivulet to drink. The crossing places over the river are so encumbered with rock and the access to it from the hilly ground on each side so bad that I did not fix on a crossing place on it, but intend having both rivulets well examined the ensuing week. Arrived back at 6 p.m. completely knocked up from fatigue. Late in the evening violent gusts of wind with three or four hours’ rain.
Monday 21 November 1814
Thick, misty morning. All hands at work on the mountain. At ½ past 10 a.m. it began to thunder and rain. About noon it increased and continued the whole day, at times very heavy. Only four hours’ work done this day. Issued to all hands yesterday afternoon a gill of spirits each.
Tuesday 22 November 1814
Thick, moist morning. The sick list reduced to one (Samuel Davis). All hands again on the mountain. Light rains and heavy fogs during the day but the men continued out and did a good day’s work. Turned out a great number of very large rocks this day; blew up one. The ground as we dig discovers many more rocks that we expected.
Wednesday 23 November 1814
Cloudy morning with a very cold wind at East-south-east. Cleared up at noon and continued fine the whole day. Thomas Cook and John Ross sick. Sent two carts to Emu Plains with 3 horses and the sergeant and 2 men to bring here a load of flour from Martin’s. Sent Gorman with them and he took six weeks’ provisions for two of the soldiers that are to be left at the first depot. The other soldier ordered to return here with the carts. Sent John Tye with a soldier and another man to re-mark the trees from the second rivulet to the Fish River, a distance of about 20 miles from hence, and gave him directions to return by a ridge of high land that bears as we suppose from within three miles of the Fish River back to Mount Blaxland, it being my wish to make the road on that line if practicable. They took each half a week’s rations with them.
Thursday 24 November 1814
Sick: Thomas Cook, John Ross, John Finch (pains in the back and thighs proceeding from wet and cold). Close morning, but dry weather until 5 p.m. when it misted and continued so all the evening. Wind south-east and quite cold. The men did a very good day’s work. Turned out of the road an immense quantity of rock which was handsomely veined, very like marble. The bullocks having been missing since Sunday last sent Lewis to look after them. He returned but could not find them. There is a handsome shrub here very like the laylock. It grows larger but is a pretty flower. The stem of them make good walking sticks.
Friday 25 November 1814
Sick list same as yesterday. Wet drizzly morning. At 10 a.m. it rained so hard as to break off the men from work. Took up a little again at 2 p.m. Turned out the men again and continued to work until sunset. Light rain all the afternoon, harder rain in the evening. Wind south-south-east, quite cold.
Saturday 26 November 1814
Issued to all hands one pair of trousers to each man. The stone on the mountain in general is uncommon hard and flinty. Cuts extremely bad, and some of it will not split. We have been fortunate in turning out very large solid rocks 2 feet thick without breaking them, and we have used but little powder this week. Light rain the whole day. Wind east-south-east blowing quite hard at times and very cold. The men kept out at work the greater part of the day, but so much wet and for so long a period makes them quite cheerless. The working bullocks not have been seen these 10 days, sent Lewis again to look after them and found them up a valley about 3 miles from us east-north-east. Ordered the bullock driver to repair their harness and be prepared to set off with a strong team tomorrow for Emu Plains to bring us a load of provisions. Sick list as yesterday: Cook and Ross getting better, Finch much worse. Carpenter got 100 posts split and 200 rails for fencing the road down the mountain.
Sunday 27 November 1814
Heavy rain all night and until 9 in the morning, when it became lighter but continued raining until one o’clock when it began to clear up. Issued to all hands one pair of shoes to each man. Gorman arrived at 8 this morning with an account that Allen’s horse was knocked up and returned to Emu Plains and that he did not expect the other two horses will bring more than two small casks of flour. Sent the bullock cart with 2 men and 5 bullocks to Emu Plains for a load of provisions, and ordered Gorman to see it safe loaded at Martin’s. In this cart I sent John Finch who was very ill and anxious to return to the Nepean. At 5 p.m. John Tye and his party returned from the Fish River. They brought some fish with them which prove to be the rock cod, weighing about 5 lb. each. They report the waters to be very high and that is has rained constantly from Wednesday evening until a few hours since, in consequence of which they could not examine the ridge which I suppose leads towards the river, but returned the same way they went which is by no means favourable for a road on account of the hills and valleys. During their stay at the river they caught 10 fish and state that had the water not run so strong they could have caught as many as they please. Quite a fine, clear evening.
Monday 28 November 1814
A clear beautiful morning. All hands out at work at 5 o’clock. At 5 p.m. turned cloudy and we had a dirty evening but got a good day’s work done. At noon the sergeant and Frost returned from Emu ford with their horses and one cart, bringing 2 casks of flour of 336 lbs. each. Allen’s horse got stung by something, and was left very ill at Sawyer’s Reach. The cart was also left behind. Thomas Adams sick, has a strong fever on him. The stonemason completed the rock a little below the bridge. It has cost us 10 blasts of powder and great labour to get rid of it.
Tuesday 29 November 1814
A dirty misty morning. Got a tree 55 ft. long and 9 feet in circumference by the men from the woods into his place as a side piece below the bridge and joining the rock, which is the last we want for this job. Men stuck very hard picking and grubbing the rocks and forming the road. Fine evening.
Wednesday 30 November 1814
A fine day, thunder at noon but no rain. Men working as yesterday and got a very good day’s work done. The rock pick extremely hard. Sick list: Thomas Adams, Robert Hanley, Stephen Parker, Thomas Watkins.
Thursday 1 December 1814
Mr. Hobby and Richard Lewis again examined the river to find a proper place for a bridge that can be got at from the main ridge we discovered about 2 miles from the valley below. They found two places that will answer and marked the trees back to the valley. Fine weather with thunder at noon, no rain. Work went well. Sick as yesterday. John Tye and a soldier went forward to examine the ridge from Blaxland’s Mount to within 3 miles of the Fish River and mark back the best one they can find according to the orders they last evening received.
Friday 2 December 1814
Sent a soldier with letters etc. to his Excellency the Governor. At 2 p.m. Gorman came here from Emu Plains. Reported that he left one bullock cart with two casks of flour at the 15-mile yesterday. Also reports that there are two Government teams at Martin’s and , the water being too high for them to cross at the ford they refused to swim their bullocks over to come here with the provisions without a written order from me. Sent down to the forest to get the Government horse. They searched until night but could not find it. Directed Gorman to remain until the morning. Fine day. Work went on cheerily. Sick list: Parker, Hanley, Watkins, Appledore.
Saturday 3 December 1814
At daybreak sent three men to look after the horses. Returned at 10 without seeing them. Sent Gorman to Emu ford on foot (50 miles) with written orders to have the bullocks swam across the Nepean and come forward and for him to return again as soon as he has seen the carts loaded and as far as the 1st depot. At 2 p.m. Tye and the soldier returned. They report unfavourably and say we cannot go on either of the ridges pointed out and that we must cross the valley by Blaxland’s Mount. A fine day. Men worked extremely hard on the mountain to finish a road on the second circle, to admit my caravan to come down tomorrow. Sick list Appledore and Watkins. Fowler, scurvy in his legs. Two men out all day to look after the horses; returned unsuccessful.
Sunday 4 December 1814
About 10 o’clock last night the bullock cart arrived from Emu ford. Brought two large casks of flour and some odd tools that had been left at the 1st and 2nd depots. In the absence of Gorman, Mr. Hobby and Lewis issued the rations and delivered over the remainder of the provisions in charge to the sergeant with a written list of it and also ordered 2 soldiers to sleep under the rock where it is deposited. At 10 a.m. removed the caravan and cart down to the valley at the foot of the mountain. Took them down by men, the road not being finished sufficient for horses or cattle to draw on it. At 2 p.m. removed 18 chains forward to a valley about 2 miles where there is water. The bullock cart took the provisions etc. forward. At 3 p.m. the horses were brought back by Sullivan and 2 others. They look very well. Gave the promised reward, half a pint of spirits. Mr. Hobby and myself immediately mounted and gave directions where the men are to begin tomorrow under the charge of Watson. He is to put on 6 fellers, 6 firemakers, and 5 cleaners up of the road. Went on to the river and fixed on the spot to make the first bridge. There is a most beautiful ridge near 3 miles long that leads direct to the spot. Could not see any timber near the place fit for it. Issued to all hands a gill of spirits each. In the evening wind shifted to the westward. At 7 it began to rain. At 8 it came on very heavy and rained nearly all night.
Monday 5 December
Very cold windy morning with light rain in showers. Put the remainder of the men to work on the mountain which I expect they will complete by Saturday next. Wrote to the Rev. Mr. Cartwright to send 2 of the jail gang to cut and house Tindall’s wheat (about 3 acres) at the Nepean. He has a large family and it is his all, but could not allow himself to go in as many others would fancy they were entitled to the same indulgence. Went on to the fellers in the morning. The timber being thin they got on well. Attended the gang on the mountain in the afternoon. Weather very cold. Wind west, showers of sleet and hail at 5 p.m. At 8 thunder and lightning. No rain and a fine, clear evening.
Tuesday 6 December
Beautiful clear morning. Brought a cask of pork and two bars of iron down the mountain to carry forward. Removed after breakfast with the caravan, horse cart and bullock cart to the junction of the two rivulets about six miles. Examined the river and rivulets up and down and fixed on a spot over each rivulet as being less trouble and more convenient that making one bridge over the river, the obstacles to the latter is more rocks on the ground between the river and high land, and also the ascent up the hills is much steeper and worse ground for a road. Sent the bullock cart back to the mountain to bring a load of provisions tomorrow. A fine clear day.
Cloudy morning, wind southerly. At 11 a.m. the bullock cart brought 4 casks of flour from the mountain. Gorman came forward from Emu ford and brought a new chart from the Fish River down to Bathurst Plains with the Governor’s dispatches. Brought word that two Government carts were on the road with provisions and that they had taken the whole from Martin’s except 2 casks of pork. Directed the sergeant to go back to the 2nd depot with a two-horse cart tomorrow morning for provisions and also to impress one of the Parramatta carts at the 2nd depot to bring a load on to the mountain. Showers began at noon. At 6 p.m. rained quite heavy and continued all the evening.
Thursday 8 December
Heavy rain during the night but a clear fine morning. Put 6 men cutting timber and making a bridge over the east arm or branch of the river. Kept 12 men making and bringing up the road from the mountain to the river. These are under Mr. Hobby’s charge. Left 12 men to finish the road down the mountain under the charge of Richard Lewis. John Tye returned last evening from marking the road 10 miles ahead. Finished the road this evening from the mountain to the river. Measured down the mountain to the valley to the 50th mile from Emu ford. Here I drop this reckoning and commence from the 50th mile to the westward which is 5 miles and 10 chains to the bridge on the eastern branch of a river running to the eastward not yet named. A fine clear day.
Friday 9 December
Fine day. Wind west. Afternoon hot and sultry. All hands employed at the 1st bridge before breakfast. At 9 a.m. took all hands to the second bridge and before dinner got one of the side pieces 45 feet long, about 100 rods down the river and fixed it in its place without accident. The other side piece we got by felling a tree across the river, about 60 ft. long and that was also fixed. After dinner gave all hands a gill of spirits. Several of the men appeared to be inclined to give in and shirk the work, the greater part of whom in my opinion are quite well as myself. Gave them a reproof in earnest which I expect will make them all well by tomorrow. A cart arrived on the mountain with stores.
Find day. Wind west. Finished the bridge over the east branch, 22 feet long, 13 ft wide. Carpenters etc. made a good strong job of it. The working bullocks strayed and not found until sunset. Sick; Patrick Hanraghan, John Tindall, Henry Morton. Ordered six married men to go back to the mountain to finish the road down to it to the valley. When done they are to be discharged: Stephen Parker, John Ross, John Tindall, Patrick Hanraghan, Patrick Kernan and Thomas Watkins. Also ordered James Watson to go forward on Monday with 9 others to road making.
Sunday 11 December
At 6 a.m. sent six men back to the mountain to complete the road. At 7 sent 10 men forward to encamp at Blaxland’s Mount under Watson’s charge. At 8 set out on horseback, with Mr. Hobby and Lewis (John Tye and a soldier having previously gone) to go as far as the Fish River to examine the ground for a road. After passing Mount Blaxland we ascended a high ridge and found it still continued to ascend until we got extremely high. Continued on until noon and found the ground very unfavourable for a road, when I made up my mind to return by the route Mr. Evans laid down on his chart; but to my great surprise found it impracticable to make a road even for a horse. I therefore returned and examined all the ridges and valleys for several miles and got back at sunset extremely fatigued and much disappointed. The land between the river and Blaxland’s Mount is very favourable for grazing – a light, sound soil, good sort of grass, thinly timbered and well watered. There appears to be a tract of about 10 miles long and probably on the average 5 miles broad of good grazing grounds. When westward it is not so good. Again the hills to the southward I have not been on; those to the northward again become rocky. The hills to the west, north and south are extremely high and difficult of access, but in many of them the food is good to the highest part.
Monday 12 December
Sick list: Patrick Heningham, John Allen, Henry Morton, and Robert Hanley. Men at work getting timber etc for the bridge, the greater part of which we are obliged to get down the river by the men, six of whom were in the water nearly all day. Gave these men a gill of spirits each. Got a good day’s work done. At 6 p.m. a violent thunderstorm, attended with vivid lightning and heavy rain, which lasted till about 9 o’clock.
Mr. Hobby went forward to Blaxland’s Mount to superintend the 10 men ahead in roadmaking. Got on well to-day with the work at and to the bridge. Gave the men who worked in the water a gill of spirits.
Yesterday afternoon a Parramatta cart and the sergeant’s cart brought forward the remainder of the provisions from the mountain, leaving there 2 soldiers and the six men finishing the road downwards. A fine day. Men worked well at the bridge. The bullocks employed in drawing in timber for the bridge. Detained the Parramatta team and men and put them on my store until further orders. Ordered the 3 carts that I have to be taken over the bridge at daylight, and also to get over casks of provisions, to load them on that side of the river (the bridge not being finished) and to proceed with their loads to Blaxland’s Mount under Gorman’s charge, where Mr. Hobby’s party is at work.
Loaded the 3 carts and sent them forward at 6 a.m. At 7 went forward myself, and came up with the party at the 10th mile to which they had completed the road, except turning some rock out of it after you ascend the hill beyond Blaxland’s Mount. Returned at 10 and sent forward 3 men with crow bars, pickaxes etc. to complete the road and remain with the party ahead. John Allen very ill; ordered him back from Mr. Hobby’s party to mine. At 1 p.m. one of the party at the mountain came to report they had finished their task. Sent Lewis to examine it and found it completed. Gave them their discharge (six men) and sent a cart with them as far as the Nepean to carry their bedding etc. A dull heavy day with light rain in the afternoon. Men worked well at the bridge and causeway to it.
Friday 16 December
Cloudy morning with light rain. Broke up at 10 a.m. and continued fine. At 7 sent 2 bullock carts with provisions etc. under Gorman’s charge to the party ahead. Sent the sergeant back to the mountain to bring forward the tools and also the two soldiers stationed there. At 2 p.m. finished the bridge over the west branch of the river, 45 feet long, 14 feet wide. It is a strong good job. There is also a causeway on each side of the bridge to the high lands which is filled up with stone and covered with earth. One of the side pieces is an oak tree with a girth of 9 feet at least 6 feet above where it was fallen, and was a good 50 ft. long. I never saw such a tree of that sort before. Sent the carpenter and 5 men forward to join Mr. Hobby’s party and intend breaking up from here tomorrow with the soldiers and remaining party. The carpenter worked remarkably well when at this job.
Loaded the two bullock carts etc. at 6 a.m. and sent them forward to Mr. Hobby’s camp. Sent Richard Lewis back to find the six bullocks we had feeding in the valley near the mountain, and to bring them forward to me. At 7 a.m. broke up quarters at the bridge and joined Mr. Hobby at 9. Measured up his work to the 12th mile except two small bridges left to make at the 11½ miles, when we encamped. Began felling the timber with the carpenter and 2 other men for these small bridges. Tasked the people for next week’s work and selected 14 men to go forward road-making, the remainder to be at my quarters. John Allen continues very ill; the other persons much recovered. At 6 p.m. a thunderstorm, with about an hour’s rain.
Sunday 18 December
At ½ past 7 went forward on horseback to examine the road from hence to the Fish River. Found the country still continues very hilly and rocky in many places. There are also two other small bridges to make before we arrive there. Took Mr. Hobby, John Tye and three others with me. Caught some fish and dined on the banks of the river. Fixed on the road except going up one hill which must be avoided if possible. Returned at 6 p.m. It being a clear, fine day we had fine views to the northward and westward from a high hill. Saw some plains without timber to the west, but in general the whole country around is extremely hilly and apparently fair grazing land. Richard Lewis brought the bullocks forward to us this day.
Monday 19 December
At work very hard on the bridges and got on well. The day extremely clear and hot. At ½ past 3 p.m. had a violent thunderstorm with small rain for about an hour. Evening fine again but close and sultry. Found a way to avoid the high hill we was over yesterday and marked the ground for a road.
At 10 a.m. ordered the sergeant to take John Allen (who continued to get worse) back 25 miles, where there was another cart and horse to relieve him. To my surprise he made such frivolous objections as I did not like, and when I sent to know if he was getting ready, he said neither his horse or him had shoes; but if he was ordered he must go. I immediately ordered the Parramatta cart to return, and at 12 he set off taking the sick man with them and James Hoddy in charge of Allen to see him safe to the Nepean. Ordered the sergeant to be ready to set off in the morning to the 1st depot to relieve Corporal Harris who is to come forward. A hot sultry afternoon. At ½ past 6 had heavy thunder and much lightning but no rain. Finished the woodwork of the longest bridge and got well on with the other, but in consequence of Kelly and the Parramatta bullock driver, going in, sent forward to Mr.Hobby to send me two labourers back this evening, to enable me to finish all here tomorrow. A very cloudy, close evening, with lightning to the south-west; wind north all day.
At 6 a.m. the sergeant set off for the 1st depot with written instructions for his guidance there. Finished both bridges this afternoon and removed all hands one mile and a ½ on where there is another bridge wanting. One of the bridges is 15 feet over and the other 10 feet. There is a great deal of work done here by the spade, the ground being very hanging and awkward. It is now a good job.
Heavy thunder and lightning at 10 last night with rain the greater part of the night. Finished the bridge this day by 3 o’clock. It is 12 foot one and well finished. Removed one mile and a half on at ½ past 3 where we are brought up again by another run of water. Set to work on a bridge and got all the large timbers in its place before dark. Thunder with showers from 5 o’clock until dark. Had a fish brought me this evening of about 4 lb. from the river. Worked the bullocks very hard yesterday and today but are still behind hand with getting our provisions, tools etc. forward. Wind west.
Friday 23 December
Much thunder and lightning with extreme heavy rain from midnight until 3 o’clock. At 10 a.m. a Parramatta constable arrived here with the Governor’s despatches dated Tuesday evening. At noon, having finished the bridge, removed about half a mile forward and began another bridge. At 4 p.m. it began to thunder again and continued until night with light showers. Henry Morton received a hurt in his leg from a large log. Wrote to the Governor by the constable who brought the despatches. Bullocks brought 4 trees from yesterday’s camp to this. We are now 15 miles and a half. On account of the Parramatta team being sent in we are obliged to get the timber for the last six bridges brought in by the men.
Thick, misty morning. Cleared up at 10 o’clock and continued fine the whole day. Finished at very good bridge at one o’clock. Went on after dinner half a mile, and began another bridge. This bridge required great labour to fill it in with timber at the ends before the earth was put on, as the ground was swampy from springs. The constable set off at 6 this morning; the distance is 90 miles. Went forward this afternoon to ascertain if I could get my caravan with safety to the Fish River, and have given orders to strike tents and pack up in the morning. Sick list;
Henry Morton, hurt in the leg
Thomas Carpenter, very bad hand.
Thomas Frost returned yesterday from the Hawkesbury and left his cart on the road, his horse having knocked up. Bullocks brought two trees from the two bridge camps.
Sunday 25 December Xmas Day
Cloudy morning with light rain until 9 o’clock. The Christmas day continued dull throughout with a southerly wind. At 8 a.m., after serving out the rations, went forward to the Fish River and removed our caravan and one cartload there, where I pitched my tent leaving behind 3 bridges to make and five miles of road. It being Xmas day issued to the men a gill of spirits and a new shirt each. Examined the river to find the best place to cross it, and fixed on a spot about 10 chains below where Mr. Evans crossed. The timber appears to be bad and scarce about here. Cannot find any fit for sawing. The land on both sides of the river continues extremely hilly, and awkward for roadmaking.
Monday 26 December
Cloudy morning, with a southerly wind. At 8 a.m. sent Thomas Frost to Clarendon for a good cart horse, to prevent delay in removing after we cross the river. Brought 4 men forward to get the materials for the bridge. Also put up the forge to repair the tools, they being much out of order. The remainder of the people getting on with the 3 bridges behind. Afternoon cold with showers.
Cloudy morning. Wind ESE and quite cold which prevented our catching any fish during the day. At 9 a.m. crossed the river for the first time with Mr. Hobby, J. Tye, a soldier and one man to look at the ground a few miles to the westward over the hills to ascertain the best place for a road. Went over the hills, bearing to the southward of west, and found it favourable for road-making. Continued going westerly until we came to a valley bearing north-west where the grass was so good that I followed it. After about an hour it bore north which we followed until we came to the river. The grass in this valley was the best and thickest on the ground I have yet seen in this country. We made the river at the spot where a small river falls into it from the north-north-east, about two miles below Evans’ Mount to the westward. During our journey this day we saw 6 kangaroos, a flock of 11 emus, wild ducks and pigeons, but for want of dogs killed none. At 6 p.m. returned and recrossed the river quite tired .
Cloudy, unsettled morning. Wind ESE and cold. Sent two soldiers to mark some trees across the river on a ridge to the westward that I saw yesterday. The 2 carpenters came forward this morning having finished the last bridge on the road from the mountain to this place, 10 in number. Lewis reports the men getting on well at the road, but that they will not complete it to this place before Saturday. Gave directions for a party to be ready to go on a 4 days’ journey tomorrow by 2 o’clock with me to Campbell River, consisting of Mr. Hobby, Lewis, Tye, Watson and two soldiers. The distance down the river is 40 miles; in a direct west line about 21 miles. At 2 p.m. the weather cleared up and this evening it is apparently set in for fine weather.
A fine morning which the birds seem much to enjoy. On the banks of the river the shrubs and flowers also are extremely fragrant. Left 6 men preparing materials for the bridge across the main river. The remainder at work bringing up the road. Gorman came forward this morning at 11 o’clock with the small stores etc. and has charge here during my absence. Left two soldiers as a guard. The party going forward are all preparing and are to cross the river at 12 o’clock precisely. Wrote to his Excellency the Governor with the proceedings down to this period, but shall not send it away until my return from the western excursion.
Sunday 1 January 1815
On Thursday at noon crossed the river, and after proceeding up the hill bent our course west as near as the land would allow. At ½ past one made Emu Valley. We here started six kangaroos, killed two and stopped an hour. At ½ past 3 got to a very fine grazing ground in 20 minutes after we crossed Sidmouth Valley, a most beautiful one; then over the hills (west) until ¾ past 4 when we came to a dry creek. This ground about 3 miles over is very fine. At 5 steered NNW and in ¾ of an hour made a ford on the river about 7 miles due west from our crossing place, where we remained for the night. Started a kangaroo half a mile before we got in, which ran to the spot where we killed it. At ½ past 4 Friday morning started steering due west. At 6 crossed O’Connell’s Plains, and at ¾ past 6 stopped at a point on the river to breakfast. Saw 6 or 8 wild turkeys and about as many kangaroos; one of the latter we killed. At 9 o’clock set off again west-north-west, about 3 miles; then north-north-west, soon after which seeing Macquarie Plains we went down to it on our right, and followed the course of the river about three miles until we arrived at the point where the Macquarie and Campbell rivers unite, at ½ past 11, when we set down for the day. In the afternoon of yesterday crossed Campbell River and went down about 3 miles. Found it very good pasture for sheep and cattle. On Saturday morning at ½ past 4 started again and went about 2 miles up Campbell River, then steered due east until 11 o’clock without halting. Here meeting with water in a creek we stopped to refresh and remained until 1, when my compass being out of order we made our way by the hills and sun and arrived at our old encampment at ½ past 6, having been the whole length from Macquarie River up to where we are building a bridge in the day. The day was cold with the wind at east or the four men could not have performed it in a day. During three days travelling we passed over a great quantity of most excellent pasturage for sheep. Fine, dry, healthy hills, gravelly soil and good grass, and so thinly timbered that it resembled parks in England rather than a forest. There are few gullies and no swamps, but the hills passed gradually into fine valleys, some of which has fine grass in them. At Sidmouth Valley I never saw finer grass, or more on the same quantity of land in a meadow in England than was here, and just in a fit state for mowing. The whole of a line about 20 miles due west would make most excellent grazing farms, with the river in front and the back on east and west line. This is the south side of the Fish River I am describing. On the north side I have not yet been but I see there are good farms to be had there. Ordered a bullock to be killed for the use of the people, which I had issued to them in lieu of giving them a ration of salt meat. It runs to about 12 lbs. a man. Some fish has also been caught this week, and when the men were mustered this morning they were extremely clean and looked cheerful and hearty.
Monday 2 January
Sent a soldier off with letters to the Governor and Commissary. In the afternoon received letters from the Governor and Clarendon. Sent Lewis, Watson, and Clark to ascertain if a better place could be found to make a road than the high hill in our front. Returned unsuccessful. Mr. Hobby measured the road up to this place; it is 21 miles from the mountains.
Tuesday 3 January
Went with Mr. Hobby up the south side of the Fish River about 4 miles. The land got hilly, and falls more into gullies than lower down. It is also scrubby in places, and more timber on it, and altogether not so good as lower down. There is room for 2 or 3 good grazing farms on the front of the river from the bridge upwards. The men finished filling in the piers at each end of the bridge, and a gang of 10 men ordered to begin roadmaking tomorrow morning. In the afternoon went over the hill in our front and made considerable alterations for the line of road. Got all our split logs brought in for the bridge. They are very good heavy logs and well split. Brought some of them 3 miles. The cobbler finished mending the men’s shoes again.
At 8 a.m. went with Mr. Hobby, Tye and two soldiers to Emu Valley to mark the intended line of road from thence to Sidmouth Valley. Returned at ½ past 4 p.m. having marked very good ground for road-making. We also traced down the rich valley. There are about two miles of it equally good as where we cross, when it falls into a creek that goes to the river about NNW, distance 1½ miles. Much disappointed in not receiving the Parramatta cart with provisions this evening. Removed the gang of 12 men forward to Emu Valley this evening, 3 miles. Smith employed in repairing our tools, shoeing our horses etc. as it is not my intention to put up the forge again until we arrive at Bathurst Plains. The carpenters getting very well on with the bridge over the river, as also a small one over a creek near it.
Thursday 5 January
About midnight last night I was taken violently ill with excruciating pains just above my left hip. In about 2 hours it became easier when I got into a perspiration and slept a little. Was in considerable pain until about 9, when I again dozed and got up at 11 considerably better. Removed three soldiers and John Tye forward to Sidmouth Valley, about 7 miles, this morning. Finished the bridge over the Fish River this evening. It is strong and well built; on each end is a pier of 25 feet long which is well filled up with stone and a very little earth over it. The arch or span across is then 25 feet more, which is planked with split logs, and as floods will go over it there is no earth put on it. It is altogether 75 feet long and 16 wide. There is also another small bridge of 10 feet long across a creek leading to it, which is also completed this evening, and we remove tomorrow morning.
Friday 6 January
At 8 a.m. crossed the river over the new bridge with the caravan and 2 carts, as also our horses, and went as far as Sidmouth Valley. Measured the road; it is 7 miles from the bridge and 28 miles from the mountains, which last reckoning I intend keeping until we arrive at Mount Pleasant on Bathurst Plains. In the afternoon marked the trees for our road from the valley to the next creek, where we have a bridge to build as also one in the valley.
Saturday 7 January
It began to thunder at daybreak and to rain at ½ past 5. Continued with little intermission until 2 p.m. when it cleared up. Ordered the whole of the men forward to a creek about 2 miles ahead this evening and rode up to the head of Sidmouth Valley, about two miles. Returned by the hills which are very fine. An emu and a kangaroo passed quietly along. The valley in our front today.
Here the diary ends abruptly. Road building continued until March when it was completed to present day Bathurst.