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The Blue Mountains was once considered a major obstacle till the first of the European settlers managed to cross and settle here for generations. Aboriginal people of the region include European settlers and convicts who have contributed for centuries to the rich history of the place. Today booking a Blue Mountains tour from Sydney has become a major gateway to Western New South Wales.
Here are some of the most renowned European settlers who were among the first to cross the Blue Mountains:
Gregory Blaxland was an English farmer and explorer in Europe, known for successfully initiating and crossing the Blue Mountains. Born in Kent, England on June 17, 1778. He was the son of John Blaxland who was mayor of the region from 1767 to 1774.
The Blue Mountain expedition led by him in 1813 was primarily in search of more grazing land. The expedition was approved by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. The entire journey was for 27 days- 21 days to reach the other side and only 6 days to return.
William Charles Wentworth
William Charles Wentworth was an Australian explorer, politician, journalist, and author who accompanied Gregory Blaxland in the expedition to the Blue Mountains. Eventually, he became a leading figure of colonial New South Wales. He is also the first native-born Australian to earn a reputation overseas.
Wentworth was born on August 13, 1790, to D’Arcy Wentworth and Catherine Cowley. D’Arcy Wentworth was a distant relative to the aristocratic Wentworth family during this time. Young William Charles lived in Parramatta with his family where his family became prominent landowners.
A lot about the entire journey across the Blue Mountains can be found in Wentworth’s journal. Today, the town of Wentworth falls commemorates his contribution to the expedition.
William Lawson is best known as a politician, explorer, and grazier who migrated to Sydney, New South Wales in 1800 and assisted in the first expedition to cross the Blue Mountains. He was born in Finchley, in Middlesex, England. His parents were Scottish. In his early days, Lawson trained as a surveyor but later bought a commission in the New South Wales Corps and migrated to Sydney.
By 1813, he was already an established colonial officer and pastoralist when he was invited for the Blue Mountain expedition by Gregory Blaxland. Like Wentworth, Lawson also maintained a journal of the expedition which was titled “W Lawsons Narrative. Across Blue Mountains”.
James Burns was another companion of the main three leaders of the first successful Blue Mountain expedition. He was a settler of the region who knew a lot about the bush and the aboriginal pathways. He was a convict who was working for the Matcham Pitt family on their property. After the expedition was successful, he became a freeman. He was honoured by Governor Macquarie for his assistance in the expedition and was awarded 100 acres of land.
Samuel Fair was one of the three convicts who were a part of the expedition. He had arrived on December 16, 1810, on board the Indian. He was tried in the Sussex Summer Assizes on August 5, 1809, for housebreaking. Initially, he was given a death sentence but was later commuted to transportation to New South Wales for life.
After the expedition in 1818 and 1819, Samuel was granted a conditional pardon and 60 acres land grant in Appin.
These were prominent personalities who were among the first European settlers to cross the Blue Mountain. They were the pioneers who paved the way to the land of New South Wales which is one of the most prominent Australian states today.