MEMOIRS OF WILLIAM COX, J.P.
Lieutenant and Paymaster of N.S.W. Corps or 102nd Regiment
Extract from the Journal kept by Mr. W. Cox in making a road across the Blue Mountains
from Emu Plains to a new country discovered by Mr. Evans to the westward.
THE MOUNTAIN ROAD: August 1814
Left Clarendon at 10 a.m., and arrived at the depÙt at 2 p.m. Found the road completed to the said depÙt, much to my satisfaction.
The workmen go on with much cheerfulness, and do their work well. Gave them a quantity of cabbage as a present. After dinner I gave directions to Lewis to inform Burne he was to take the three forward fellers to fire-making. Soon after he came to me and said he would not receive any orders from Lewis, but would obey any I gave him, on wnich I told him I should send any orders I had to give to him by whom I pleased.
He went away, but soon returned again, and said he would leave, on which I ordered the constable to receive his gun and ammunition, and he went away. Ordered him to be struck off the stores, and informed the party he was discharged from being a superintendent under me, and had nothing more to do with me or them.
Sent the two working gangs, with their bedding, etc., two miles ahead. Heard the report of a gun. and soon after heard the chattering of natives, on which they returned and reported the same. Gave notice to the sergeant to provide a corporal and three men to go forward and take up their quarters with the working men. The second pork cask being issued, I found it to contain 74 pieces, on which I had the third cask opened, and the pieces counted by the sergeant and Gorman in my presence. It also contained 74 pieces. Brought the remaining provisions from Emu Plains, and had the store completed, with a lock on the door, etc. The weather fine. Cleared the roads to the entrance to a thick brush two and a-half miles ahead.
Removed the depot to seven and a-half miles forward, as also the corporal and three privates. Lewis got leave to go to Richmond and return again on Sunday next. The men at work in a very thick, troublesome
brush. A fine day, but close. The wind in the evening got round to the south.
Timber both thick and heavy, with a thick, strong brush, the roots of which are very hard to grub up, making it altogether extremely hard work.
Timber and scrub brush the same as yesterday, but got through it this evening, and measured the new road and found we had completed nine miles. Marked the trees at the end of each mile. Went forward, and found a good-sized piece of forest land, with good water, to the right of an intended road about one and a-quarter mile ahead. The men all healthy and cheerful. Mr. Hobby joined me last evening. The people all moved forward to the end of nine miles.
Removed to the nine miles on the road. I sent a man from last camp to the depot to draw their rations. Wrote to his Excellency the Governor.
Timber and brush very heavy and thick from the ninth to tenth mile. Thos. Kendall ill, unable to work. Mr. Hobby, with R. Lewis, went forward with John Tye about four miles, and marked the trees. Two natives from Richmond joined us; one shot a kangaroo.
Fine weather continues. Good water at seven and a-half miles to the right of the road; about eight and a-half to the left of the road; ditto at four and a-half to left. Good forest ground down in the valley at four and a-half miles to the right. Mr. Evans came to us just before sunset.
Mr. Evans left us for Sydney at 2 p.m. Removed forward to four and a-half miles. The workmen remain a little behind us. Kendall somewhat better, and undertook the cooking for his mess.
Clear weather. The wind very strong from the west, made it dangerous in falling the timber, which is both heavy and thick. Workmen removed 10 miles. Water to the right of road. The 'smith set up his forge; employed in repairing tools. Mr. Hobby, with Lewis and Tye, went forward six miles and marked the road for the fellers. Gave the people a quantity of cabbage.
Mr. Hobby went to Castlereagh. Fine weather, with cold wind. Gorman reported there was not any meat or sugar, and that he had only 14 4 lb. pieces left in store, and no sugar.
At daylight sent Lewis to the depot with a letter to Mrs. Cox to send me out immediately 300 lb. of beef to serve to the people in lieu of salt pork. Gave orders to the corporal to send Private Ashford to the depot, and for Sergeant Bounds to send me Carrol in lieu of him. The former being ill and unfit for the advance party, he has not done any duty this week past. Measured 11 miles this morning, and this evening got through the brush ground, which has given us very hard work since leaving the depot, the timber being heavy and the brush strong. Gave orders to all hands to remove forward to-morrow morning to the forest ground, about half-a-mile ahead of our work.
Removed to the forest ground. Sent Lewis with a letter for the Governor, informing him we were without meat or sugar.
Fine morning, and, being out of the brush, had six fellers at work. At 9 a.m. arrived a cart from Clarendon with a side of beef 386 lb., 60 cabbages, two bags of corn, etc., for the men.
Fire-making on the 12-mile ridge. Timber very heavy, thick, and long; extremely troublesome to get rid of. Having no sugar, borrowed 40 lb. from Mr. Hobby, and I gave 1 lb. to each man.
Removed forward to a hill ahead of the workmen. Water at 11 miles to the left; ditto 12 to the right; ditto 12 to the left; ditto 13 to the right. At the three first places in very small quantities; at the latter plenty, with a place fit to drive stock to water. The timber on the forest from 11 miles to 13 very tall and thick. Measured a dead tree which we felled that was 81 ft. to the first branch, and a blood tree 15 ft. 6 in. in circumference. There is some good stringy bark timber in this forest ground.
Wind very high the last two nights, and this evening stormy, but the wind blew off the rain. Measured the 13th mile this evening, and just entered a scrub with stunted timber. Mr. Hobby returned this day. Got 2 lb. of shoemakers' thread from Clarendon, and put Headman, one of our men, to repair shoes during the week. The 'smith employed this week in making and repairing tools and nails for the men's shoes. The stonemason went forward to examine a rocky ridge about three miles ahead, and on Monday next he will go there to work to level them.
At 7 a.m. left the party for Clarendon. Mr. Hobby and Lewis left in charge. Stephen Parker ran a splinter in joint under his ankle; unable to work.
At 10 a.m. arrived at Martin's, where I found the sergeant of the party, he having died the day before. Sent to Windsor to the sergeant commanding there for a coffin and party to bury him at Castlereagh, but Sergeant Ray sent for the corpse to bring it to Windsor. Wrote to the Governor for another sergeant, and sent back Corporal Harris to the depot, there to remain until relieved. Called at the first depÙt at 12; ordered a cask of pork to be opened; counted the pieces in the presence of Gorman, my son Henry, and a soldier; it contained 75 pieces. Arrived at the working party at 2 p.m. Found Mr. Hobby well. The road finished during my absence. Done well. Lewis left the party on Monday last, very ill of a sore throat.
Measured to the 16th mile, immediately after which the ground got very rocky, and in half-a-mile we came to a high mountain, which will cost much labour to make a road over. Got two natives, who promise to continue with us - Joe from Mulgoa and Coley from Richmond.
Rernoved, with all the people, to a little forward of the 16th mile. (Lewis returned.)
Commenced operations on the mountain, with all the men. Continued the same on Tuesday, except with the fellers, who went forward on the next ridge. Had to remove an immense quantity of rock, both in going up the mountain and on the pass leading to the bluff on the west of it.
Examined the high rocks well, and fixed on making a road off it from the bluff instead of winding round it. Began cutting timber and splitting stuff to frame the road on the rock to the ridge below it, about 2Oft. in depth. The men worked extremely hard and smart to-day.
SICK LIST, MONDAY.
Sam. Davis, splinter in his hand.
Thos. Kendall, ill from bad cold.
Step. Parker, from sick list to work again.
All hands employed at the bridge.