The settlement at Sydney grew larger as more convicts arrived. People also came because they wanted to live in the new settlement. These people were called free settlers.
As the settlement grew, it became important to find more land to grow food and graze animals. There were increasing numbers of sheep and cattle, but less and less grazing land.
Plagues of caterpillars further reduced pasture areas. A drought in 1813 damaged crops and killed many cattle and sheep, leading to food shortages.
A way across the Blue Mountains was needed. Since 1789 explorers had tried to cross them but had failed. They followed the valleys but their way was always blocked by steep mountain walls.
For 25 years after the first settlement at Sydney Cove the land west of the Blue Mountains remained a mystery to the settlers. However, in 1813 seven men found a way across the mountains. This exploration group was led by three landowners - Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth.