Western Crossings Monuments

Western crossings monuments, Blue Mountains.


Visitors to the Blue Mountains region may have observed a number of monuments erected with the involvement of the RAHS in the early twentieth century. These monuments were erected to mark a key historic narrative about European exploration, discovery, possession of the country, national progress and expansion, with explorers as central heroes – the agents of empire and transformation.

Dr Siobhán Lavelle OAM, RAHS Councillor and historical archaeologist, has visited a number of these monuments to assess the restoration work required. You can follow in her footsteps and learn more about the location, history and commemorative events associated with these sites by clicking on the icons below.

Below you can learn about the work completed, including a summary of each restored cairn, images of each before, during and after the conservation and maintenance work was carried out, and the Rookwood General Cemetery Trust’s ‘Work Report – Blue Mountains Crossing, Royal Australian Historical Society Cairns’.

Western Crossings Monuments (Cairns) Restoration

As a result of the conservation and maintenance work carried out during 2013 by Rookwood General Cemetery Trust staff, a report has been compiled detailing work completed on the following cairns: Blaxland Farm, Springwood, Glenbrook and Blackheath.

View and download the work report by Sach Killam of Rookwood General Cemetery Trust.

View Report
Access information and images of cairns restoration below.

The Blaxland Cairn is located on Luddenham Road, near Mamre and Mamre Road. The cairn had suffered from rough and unsympathetic work in the past which was disfiguring the stonework and placing it at risk of accelerated deterioration. Earlier letter painting had also failed, making the inscription plaque hard to read. During the course of the project, significant landscape maintenance was completed by other parties: notably improving the situation of the cairn.

Works Completed

• all silicone pointing was removed

• all joints were raked back, removing all loose and failing material

• all open joints were repointed with a new mortar to match the original, including
sympathetic colour, but remain distinguishable from the historic: new mortar
comprised 2 parts Aalborg white cement, 1 part trass pozzolan, to 6 parts Hawkesbury
river sand

• the entire cairn was hand-cleaned using potable water and plastic-bristle brushed
the inscription was re-gilded

Author: Sach Killam/RGCT

Before Restoration

blaxland1

During Restoration

blaxland2

After Restoration

blaxland3


 

 

The Springwood cairn had suffered extensive damage from invasive cleaning in the past. For 2013, the Royal Australian Historical Society opted for only gentle and reversible maintenance work – conserving and treating the 1938 monument as an historical item in its own right.

Works Completed

• the sandstone cairn and marble inscription plaque were carefully hand cleaned using only plastic-bristle brushes and potable water

• the damaged lead lettering was cautiously stabilised with re-tapping, taking care to avoid applying too much pressure which could deform the lead

• joints were raked back with loose mortar and all plant growth removed (note that this was only a very small proportion of the entire pointed area)

• open joints were pointed with a Natural Hydraulic Lime mortar comprising 4 parts NHL 3.5 to 1 part trass pozzolan to 9 parts Hawkesbury river sand. The lime used is from a Roman quarry, re-opened in 1851: St. Astier in France.

Author: Sach Killam/RGCT

Before Restoration

springwood1

During Restoration

springwood2

After Restoration

springwood3


 

 

The Glenbrook cairn appeared unkempt, with biological colonisation (algae growth) and damage to the lead lettering, including a missing ‘L’ making the first word, BLAXLAND, difficult to read. A large overhanging branch was placing the monument at risk.

Works Completed

• the monument was carefully hand-cleaned using only plastic-bristle brushes and
potable water, combined with re-tapping of all extant lead letters

• missing lead letters (the first ‘L’ in BLAXLAND and the majority of the ‘N’ in
WENTWORTH) were replaced with new lead, completed as per traditional techniques,
with care taken to avoid any damage to the historic fabric of the marble panel

• the large dead branch overhanging the monument was carefully cut off (and then
removed by Blue Mountains City Council staff who were working nearby), with dead
stock in the neighbouring shrubs also cut back (increasing light and air movement
around the stone, while also helping to improve the health of the shrubs).

Author: Sach Killam/RGCT

Before Restoration

glenbrook1

During Restoration

glenbrook2

After Restoration

glenbrook3


 

 

The Blackheath Cairn was in reasonably good condition but was showed signs of imminent problems with water retention and a general lack of maintenance.

Works Completed

• the sandstone cairn and marble inscription plaque were carefully hand-cleaned using
only plastic-bristle brushes and potable water

• the limited areas of failing joints were raked back, removing all loose material

• the open top of the cairn was filled with a 1:4 cement mortar comprising 1 part
Aalborg white cement to ½ part trass pozzolan to 3½ parts Hawkesbury river sand

• open joints and cracks over 1.5mm wide were repointed with an inconspicuous new
mortar comprised of 2 parts Aalborg white cement, 1 part trass pozzolan, to 4 parts
Hawkesbury river sand.

Author: Sach Killam/RGCT

Before Restoration

blackheath1

During Restoration

blackheath2

After Restoration

blackheath3


 

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email