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BATHURST

Arrival

When the lacemakers stepped ashore at Parramatta after their long voyage from England, they were still some 120 miles away from their destination in the Colony - Bathurst. This final leg of their long journey would be by road on horse drawn drays, or sometimes on foot. The Great Western Road took them to the Nepean River at the foot of the range, across the Blue Mountains, out onto the Bathurst Plains and finally into Bathurst town.

The first day along the road was relatively easy across the flat plain from Parramatta to Penrith near the banks of the Nepean River. Ahead they could see a rugged range of heavily wooded hills. The drays crossed the river, and the  easy road continued as it crossed the last of the flat land and passed the junction with the “old” road to Bathurst. However, very soon the road came to the foot of the range and started to climb along the first of many deviations added since the first road had been built in 1815. Initially the climb was steady but steep and slow and it soon crossed a small stone bridge over the first of many creeks and gullies. With its many bends, steep gradients and uneven surfaces, the road across the range was arduous for horses, drivers and the lacemakers packed onto the open beds of the drays as well as for those who walked alongside.

 

At the end of the road across the range, the descent down Victoria Pass was so steep that all the passengers walked before the drays carried them into Hartley in the foothills on the western side of the range. Here the drays turned westward onto the “old” road again to avoid a steep and long climb on the newer more usual northerly route. It was here on the side of this road near the O’Connell Plains, Jane Crofts gave birth to son William.

 

A final 13 miles and the lacemakers final seven-day journey saw them arrive at the Bathurst depot. Their long journey to an Australian colony was at an end.

Early years

The Wiradjuri people lived on their Bathurst lands for thousands of years, hunting and gathering food, making stone and wooden weapons and tools. They lived in harmony with the seasons, taking food and materials as they required and as they appeared across the land.

After 20 years the settlement at Sydney had expanded westward to the Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers with small settlements established along their eastern banks. Unfortunately, these fertile river flats also flooded regularly, and the growing settlement needed new farming and grazing land. Attempts to cross the range of blue hills that blocked expansion to the west had all failed until in 1813 a small party of men found its way across by travelling along the ridges to sight the plains beyond. A road was soon built across the "Blue Mountains" to the open plains around the Macquarie River and in 1815 Governor Lachlan Macquarie visited the river and proclaimed the town of Bathurst.

In the early 1820s, with land grants to British colonists over the Bathurst plains, farms and cattle and sheep runs spread across the lands of the Wiradjuri people. Differing concepts between the two groups over how the natural resources could be exploited, led to conflict between the groups. The superior weapons of the settlers and the Government troops sent to reinforce the colonists, resulted in the massacre of many Wiradjuri men, women and children during the short uprising. From 1825 onwards, a detachment of British mounted police stationed at Bathurst enforced peace over the plains.

Cox's Pass - Blue Mountains

Campbell's River near Bathurst

Images were painted by artist John Lewin when he accompanied Governor Lachlan Macquarie on his 1815 trip to Bathurst

Images by John Lewin - http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=421660, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26397059

Bathurst - 1848

When the lacemakers arrived, Bathurst had been a settlement for a little over thirty years. It was a town of some 360 houses mostly built of stone or red brick and housing nearly 2000 people. They were served by inns and hotels, shops and businesses, banks, flour mills, churches, a police station, a gaol, and a substantial courthouse. The town was situated high on the western bank of the Macquarie River across a ford from the small village of Kelso on the road from Sydney. It would be another seven years before the first bridge was built across the river to link the two settlements.

 

The lacemakers soon found work at local businesses within the town as well as at those across the river in Kelso. Others found work at the copper mines and sheep runs on the properties in the surrounding district. Still others established their own business to serve the townsfolk. The week following the lacemakers arrival, the local newspaper ran an advertisement stating, “several situations are now vacant for male and female servants.” Several lacemakers took up those positions.

 

Just as the lacemakers were boarding Agincourt in the Thames River, the Bathurst Advocate newspaper published an editorial reflecting on how Bathurst had changed over its thirty years of existence. It made few predictions about the future .... Read more…

Further reading

Bathurst c1847-1857

Painted by Joseph Backler

Check the link for a free ebook of a "tourist's" account of her journey to New South Wales in 1839 and her stay until 1843 including her voyage, her observations of Sydney, Parramatta and Bathurst and the surrounding district including her journey over the Blue Mountains.

Notes and Sketches of New South Wales During a Residence in that Colony from 1839 to 1844 by Louisa Anne Meredith, London: John Murray 1844, https://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks16/1600201h.html

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