Conquering the Blue Mountains: Friday Fictioneers

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 5.54.09 pm

photo prompt © Jan Wayne Fields

The three men looked back at Gregory’s farm. Greg’s wife waved from the verandah, the smallest of his three children clinging to her skirt. He turned, brushing a tear from his eye. The pack horses were laden with six weeks of provisions and if necessary they had five dogs they could eat. The three convicts did the work whilst a fourth oversaw them. Upward they climbed through the rugged bush. The land to the west spread before them, a fertile vista, but the sheer cliffs didn’t allow them passage down yet they celebrated – they were the first to see the other side.

Thank you to Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields for being our hostess for Friday fictioneers and to Jan Wayne Fields for supplying the photo prompt.

My immediate thought when seeing this photo was of the explorers Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson who were the first men to successfully cross our Blue Mountains in 1813. They did not make it down the other side – a chap named Evans did that in December 1813  and the three explorers were awarded 1000 acres of land each on the west side of the mountain. Wentworth wrote in his journal:

A country of so singular a description could in my opinion only have been produced by some Mighty convulsion in Nature – Those immense unconnected perpendicular Masses of Mountain which are to be seen towards its Eastern Extremity towering above the Country around, seem to indicate that the whole of this tract has been formed out of the Materials of the primitive mountains of which these masses are the only parts that have withstood the violence of the concussion.

William Wentworth

whilst William Lawson wrote:

Reached the summit of the Highest land we have yet been, … and Encamped by a fine stream of water. Here we had a fine view of all our Settlements, our progress was here stoped by an impassable Clift from going either South or West- Mr. Blaxland Wentworth and Self left our Camp with a determination to get down some parts of this broken land. But found it impracticable in some places 500 feet perpendicular here we saw the course of the Western River and that broken Country at Natai the back of the Cow pasters. No doubt this is the Remnant of some dreadful Earthquake

William Lawson, 22 May 1813

and Blaxland:

They now conceived that they had sufficiently accomplished the design of their undertaking, having surmounted all the difficulties which had prevented hitherto the interior of the country from being explored, and the colony from being extended. … Their provisions were nearly expended, their clothes and shoes were in very bad condition, and the whole party were ill with bowel complaints. These considerations determine them, therefore, to return home.

Gregory Blaxland

Thank you to Wikipedia for these diary entries.

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Earliest pictorial representation of the crossing from the Sydney Mail, 25th December 1880

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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54 Responses to Conquering the Blue Mountains: Friday Fictioneers

  1. That was an interesting slice of Australian history Irene. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What interesting Australian history – I learn a lot from you, Irene. Reminds me of the Lewis and Clark expedition in America, the first European Americans to cross the western passage from St. Louis to the Pacific. Of course, it had been crossed for centuries by Native Americans, and the young Indian woman, Sacajawea, assured their success. Sometimes it has to be enough to know you’ve gone the distance even if you can’t claim all due.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. neilmacdon says:

    Sometimes the most that’s granted us is to know there is another side

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ceayr says:

    I remember seeing the Three Sisters from the Lookout Point at Katoomba, spectacular view of a fantastic country.
    Thanks for the memory, Irene.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. subroto says:

    “if necessary they had five dogs they could eat” I like how this is stated in such a matter-of-fact way. I do like all the extra information that you put in. I driven past Blaxland and Wentworthville, now I know the context for the names 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Liz Young says:

    A neat story to introduce those intrepid men. Undertaking any exploration in Australia is fraught with danger.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Irene,

    And the thing that hit me was hoping they didn’t have to eat roasted dog. 😉 Thank you for sharing this piece of history.



    Liked by 1 person

  8. Iain Kelly says:

    An intriguing bit of history.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That was so interesting. The people who went out and explored our world were a breed apart.

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks for this brief look into history.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. jillyfunnell says:

    The history and detail of those intrepid people never ceases to amaze and impress me. Terrific vivid description, Irene.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. pennygadd51 says:

    Lots of gritty detail that brings the scene to life for us!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. granonine says:

    Reading your story, and then the explanatory notes, was a real treat. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. gahlearner says:

    No, not the dogs! 🙂 Seriously, this was great. A moving story where you clearly show the coming hardship but also hint at the excitement of exploring new places. And the back story is very interesting, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. lisarey1990 says:

    Interesting story and learned some Australian history from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. James McEwan says:

    I enjoyed your story and the inspirational back ground information. Nice read.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Dale says:

    This was a wonderful slice of history, Irene. Loved it (and your additions!)

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great story and I’ve learnt something, thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh those journeys humans made… once we had things to explore, now it’s all marked and owned.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Mike says:

    A quick reminder to me about early day explorers. Nicely done and leaves me daydreaming about the good old days.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Nan Falkner says:

    To be the first one to look out on a vista would be a beautiful experience! Nice story!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Good story, interesting history.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. athling2001 says:

    Great historical angle.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: Blue Mountains Texture: Tuesdays of Texture | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

  25. Charli Mills says:

    It’s interesting to see the explorers of Australia in similar situations as those in America.

    Liked by 1 person

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