THE INTER-WAR YEARS: MEMORIALS AT GLENBROOK AND PENRITH
In the 1920s and 1930s a couple of further memorials that deserve mention were unveiled. Firstly, on the 115th anniversary of the crossing of the Blue Mountains in May 1928, the Glenbrook Progress Association, with the co-operation of the Royal Australian Historical Society, decided that it was Glenbrook's turn to offer tribute. Despite a cold westerly wind a crowd of over a thousand people assembled for the unveiling of a memorial tablet donated by Frank Walker, ex-President of the R.A.H.S., and marking what was then thought (incorrectly) to be the site of the explorers' first Mountain camp. The location was a small area set aside after the recent highway deviation, opposite the School of Arts (now Glenbrook Theatre). As well as the explorers' tablet, a war memorial in the form of a machine gun and a town sign proclaiming this section of the new highway as Garlick Parade were also unveiled. The wording on the tablet was later changed from “camped here” to “passed nearby”.
By 1936, it was still thought by some that insufficient had been done to honour these heroes of early exploration. In May of that year Mr F. Keller, Inspector of Schools in the Western District, declared that “to no appreciable extent have we aroused in the hearts and minds of our people a sense of the greatness both in character and achievement, of the work done by the early explorers.” (Katoomba Daily 22 May 1936.) Consequently, he initiated that year a celebration of the 1813 crossing of the Mountains in the schools under his jurisdiction (St.Marys to Hartley) and each school was sent excerpts from Blaxland's Journal corresponding as closely as possible to the school's locality.
Two years later New South Wales celebrated its Sesquicentenary.
In September the Municipality of Penrith invited the Governor, Lord Wakehurst, to unveil “a beautiful monolith of synthetic yellow stone with neat surmounting clock” at the bend in the Great Western Highway near Old Punt Road (near the present Log Cabin Motel/Hotel). Again supported by the R.A.H.S, this memorial to the 1813 expedition was the culmination of a movement that had begun 25 years ago at the time of the centenary. The achievements of George William Evans and William Cox are also honoured on this memorial.
© John Low 2001