The Spiritstone Saga
The Spiritstone Saga
10. The Europeans spread inland
1815: Founding of Bathurst
The smell of eucalyptus leaves wafts through the still, hot air. You are camping high in the Blue Mountains, getting some much-needed rest. Late in the afternoon you hear settlers’ voices. An hour later you see a row of caravans coming up a rough track, horses grunting with strain.
You recognise Governor Macquarie amongst the group, wearing fine clothing but sweating like all the others. He talks to a friend about what they are doing.
‘We will be remembered for this,’ says Macquarie.
‘Of course, sir,’ says another rider.
‘The first inland settlement in the colony, and the first across the other side of the Blue Mountains. If what the explorers say is true, there is fantastic land for farming.’
‘Yes sir, the Blue Mountains have stopped us from spreading away from the Sydney coast until now.’
‘The colony needs to be able to feed itself. We must grow grain, not just farm sheep and cattle,’ says Macquarie.
The expedition has about 50 people as part of it. You follow the group, and get chatting with one of the travellers, Curley Walters.
‘Yup, I’m a convict alright, three years left on my sentence. Sent over here for the “grand crime” of stealing a sheep,’ he says sarcastically.
You nod in sympathy.
‘Convicts built this road. Of course, the Aboriginal people knew how to cross, but it took the first European explorers, Charles Wentworth, William Lawson and Gregory Blaxland, weeks to cross.’
The travellers eventually cross the mountains, and ride down onto wide open grassy plains.
‘These plains were made by the Aboriginal people by their burning of the trees, that’s what I heard.’ says Curley.
The group makes its way down, camping beside a river. Governor Macquarie names the river after himself. When he finds a good spot for a settlement he declares it ‘a space of such extent and beauty as seems designed by nature for the […] comfort of man.’
He names the settlement after an English politician, calling it ‘Bathurst’.
You spend time in the new settlement. As word spreads of the good farmland, more settlers arrive. This causes more conflict with the Aboriginal Wiradjuri people of the area, led by the warrior Windradyne. Settlement comes at a large cost to the Aboriginal people who lose access to the land and their connection to country.
The Spiritstone glows brightly. ‘Show you understand this by labelling or annotating this historical picture.’
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