Published on March 12, 2014
AUSTRALIAN COLONIES LESSON 5: CROSSING THE BLUE MOUNTAINS S & E History
Review Spend about 30 seconds thinking about the last lesson… What did we do? What did you learn? Share with the class
Lesson Outcomes By the end of this lesson you will be able to: o Understand the contribution and significance of 3 explorers in the shaping of the colony of Sydney in the 1800’s. o Identify problems encountered during expeditions. o Produce a recount of events that took place to help shape the colony.
The Blue Mountains (Source: National Museum Australia, 2006)
The Problem The settlement at Sydney was growing larger as more convicts and more free settlers arrived. As it grew, it was important to find more land to grow food to feed the colony. There were increasing numbers of sheep and cattle, but less and less grazing land. In 1813, there was a bad drought which damaged crops and killed many sheep and cattle causing a food shortage. A way across the mountains needed to be found, and many tried. However, they always found their way blocked by steep mountains walls. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
Gregory Blaxland Gregory Blaxland was born in England in 1778 and was a farmer. He came with his family to Australia as a free settler and soon owned large areas of farming land in the Sydney settlement. When he realised that he needed more grazing land for his sheep and cattle, he decided to try and find a way across the Blue Mountains. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
Lawson and Wentworth Lawson was born in England in 1774 and came to Sydney as a soldier. Wentworth was born aboard a sailing ship travelling to Norfolk Island, where his father was in charge of the convicts. Wentworth was also a farmer and grazed cattle. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
The Blue Mountains (Source: National Museum Australia, 2006)
Brainstorm Activity In groups. Discuss the problems and dangers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth may have encountered on their journey. Think of the climate, terrain, supplies, animals, other humans???
The Journey Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth set off in 1813 to find a way across the Blue Mountains. With them they took 3 convicts and a man who hunted kangaroos in the mountains, James Burns. They also took 4 pack horses and five dogs. The horses carried equipment and six weeks' supplies including salted meat, flour, tents, 7 hand guns, compasses, a hoe and tools for cutting. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
The Journey It was a difficult journey. The explorers followed a ridge that led them high up into the mountains and on either side there were deep, rocky gullies, making it very dangerous. Dew on the ground made the way slippery. A couple of the horses fell because of the heavy loads they were carrying. They had to cut their way through the thick bush land. It was exhausting work and the men's hands were skinned from cutting back vegetation and cutting footholds for the horses so that they wouldn't slip on the steep hillsides. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
The Journey At night, the explorers spent the nights sitting in darkness away from the campfires because they were afraid that they would be attacked by aboriginals who followed them constantly. They decided to mark their way by cutting the bark from the trees on each side of the track. This way they could find their way back across the mountains when the bush grew back. Their progress was slow and it was difficult finding food for the horses. When they reached Mount York, they saw good grass in the valley, but it would be very difficult climbing down to it. They unloaded the horses and used a hoe to make a small trench, which stopped them from slipping. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
The Journey There was water in the valley and the horses ate fresh grass for the first time since starting on the expedition. After the horses has recovered, they were taken back up the mountains and the supplies reloaded to be taken down the mountains. As it was so steep, the explorers had to carry the supplies part of the way. On May 31, Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson crossed the valley and climbed a high hill. From here they saw wonderful grazing lands to the west of the Blue Mountains. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
The Journey By now their supplies were very low, their clothing was rags and their shoes were very worn. Also they were starting to feel ill. The return trip took just under five days and on June 6, they crossed the Nepean River and returned to their homes. They had found a way across the Blue Mountains opening up the settlement. The settlement in Sydney could now spread across the mountains and the settlers could begin to use the land to the west of the Blue Mountains. Source: http://www.davidreilly.com/australian_explorers/blaxland/blaxland_-easier.htm
What Happened Next? In 1814 Governor Macquarie commissioned the construction of a road through the steep and rocky terrain. Convicts supervised by William Cox took just six months to complete the road. Those who worked hard were rewarded with their freedom. The route became the Great Western Highway in 1928. (Sources: National Museum Australia, 2006; http://www.hideawayretreat.com.au/maps.asp, 2012)
Six Steps in Shaping Sydney! Construct a pictorial representation of the journey of Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson and the construction of the road over the mountain. You can write captions or speech bubbles to help demonstrate your recount. Just an idea… 1. The 3 explorers 2. The problem 3. The journey 4. Problems or dangers 5. Success! 6. The future (Adapted from: Croft, Forwood, McCormack and Macintosh, 2008)
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