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Blue Mountains Tourist : Autumn 2009
Consider this proposition for a moment. You and your family have decided to travel from Sydney to Bathurst – a 160 kilometre journey. Now, consider making this journey with bullock wagons, carts and horses; and on foot. Consider informing the children they can only take what they need, not what they want, for space on the wagons and carts will be limited … and oh, tell them the journey will take 18 days. A Blue Mountains Autumn Journey – 187 Years Ago T o a modern traveller this might sound unreasonable, perhaps impossible. But if you were living in April 1822, and you were the Hawkins family, then you would have undertaken such a journey. For Mr Thomas Hawkins had been appointed the Commissariat of the Government Store in Bathurst, which meant he would be in charge of all provisions required by the soldiers stationed at the Bathurst Garrison. Furthermore, his appointment meant his family would accompany him. Finally, consider describing your journey in a long letter to your family back home – a task undertaken by Mrs Elizabeth Hawkins, when she wrote to her sister Ann, in England. Elizabeth Hawkins began her long letter describing how the family, consisting of Mr Thomas Hawkins, herself, their eight children, and her 70 year old mother, left Sydney on Easter Saturday, 5th of April 1822. ‘We had many presents and kind wishes from those around us, indeed there was not a dry eye…’ ‘Furniture, cooking utensils, bedding, agricultural implements, groceries and other necessaries to last us a few months, and our clothes’ were secured by nine accompanying convicts onto several wagons and carts in preparation for the ‘tremendous journey’. Two days later, having trundled along the Western Road through Parramatta, (where a female servant was acquired from the Female Factory), the 4 ‘cavalcade’ arrived at the Nepean River. Once the Nepean River had been safely crossed, and the wagons and carts were re-secured, the party began their journey across the Blue Mountains, on the 12th April 1822. Some settlers wished them well, and a ‘party of natives had come to bid us welcome’. Elizabeth then wrote ‘we began our ascent of Lapstone Hill’, and as the hill was so steep, ‘we only performed the distance of a mile and a half that day.’ After a night at Lapstone Hill, the party slowly made their way along the Western Road; later arriving to a restless night at Springwood; followed by a difficult hill ascent at Linden; then on towards two more restless nights at The Weatherboard Huts, (Wentworth Falls); and finally along the top of the Mountains, to the perilous descent at Mount York, then more commonly known as ‘the Big Hill.’ While we can also make this journey – in the comfort of our modern transport – consider from the following brief quotes the arduous nature of the 1822 journey. Lapstone Hill – Springwood. (13th – 14th April 1822) ‘The next morning, we took our breakfast, and packed up our beds and provisions. It was thought most desirable that we should proceed to Springwood, as there was a house to go into… After a most fatiguing www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au journey of nine miles we arrived. ‘The house was inhabited by a corporal, the corporal’s wife, an old woman with fawning manner, and two soldiers… A good barn in England would have been a palace to this place… The earth was dirty, damp and cold… A few minutes convinced me I should get no rest. The bugs were crawling by hundreds. ‘The old woman had contrived to steal some spirits from our provisions basket, which with what had been given to her, made her and the soldiers tipsy. All was noise and confusion indoors. ‘Never did I pass a night equal to it… You can be certain we were happy when morning came. We got our breakfast, packed up our beds and bade adieu to the house at Springwood.’ Faulconbridge – Linden – Woodford. (14th – 15th April 1822) ‘The bullocks refused to drag, and every few minutes first one, then another would lie down. The dogs were summoned to bark at them and bite their noses to make them get up. The barking of the dogs, the bellowing of the bullocks, and the swearing of the men made our heads ache, and kept us in continual terror. At length we came to a hill so steep it seemed as if we could never get up… In front it was almost perpendicular: behind was a valley so deep the eye could hardly distinguish the trees at the bottom. autumn 2009