The Hartley District Progress Association’s Western Crossings Trust celebrates
the Bicentenary of the Building of Cox’s Bathurst Road
Walking Cox’s Road
Its something of a miracle that a road, built in 1814, still exists. But Cox’s Road does, and nowhere more dramatically than when it drops off the escarpment at Mt York near Mt Victoria and takes the perilous descent down into the Hartley Valley. It’s still there, as the road over which the development of western NSW commenced. Appearing as little more than a bullock track to our modern eye, it’s hard to imagine then Governor, Lachlan Macquarie and his good wife Elizabeth, taking their coach down this ‘road’ in April 1815 on their way to what was to be named Bathurst. It is there for all to see, the convict picked gutters, the initials of road builders long gone, the widening to allow the coach to pass and the handpicked slots in which a rail fence was inserted to protect animals milling at the prospect of the road from plunging over the greater horror – the precipice. It stand today as a testament to William Cox and the twenty eight convicts that built the road to Macquarie’s own specifications, and built it all, from Penrith to Bathurst in just over six months.
Whilst the survival of the road is a miracle, the fact that we have a number of contemporary paintings of Cox’s Pass, makes what remains doubly interesting. When Governor Macquarie set out to ‘visit the newly discovered countries west of the Blue Mountains’ he included in his party the colonial artist John Leuwin. It’s through the suite, of more than a dozen paintings by Leuwin, that a visual record of the trip has been preserved.
How amazing to be able to stop on the spot that John Leuwin painted this view of the mid pass on Saturday 29th April 1815. To be able to correlate the painting with the road and to speculate regarding the rock outcrops he painted there two hundred years ago, and the flora then and now.
The Western Crossings Trust ABN 15 619 040 503 is a charitable entity that was established by the Hartley District Progress Association as a vehicle to promote consideration of and reflection on the consequences, of the crossing of the Blue Mountains by Europeans in 1813 and to promote the heritage values of the Hartley Valley. Donations to the trust are tax deductable.