On 11 May 1813 Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth set out to cross the Blue Mountains in search of improved agricultural land. The resultant trek cut a viable route to the fertile plains beyond the mountains, now known as the Great Western Highway. This opened up the growing colony, leading to the establishment of Bathurst.
The Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS) invites you to explore the ways in which the first European crossings of the Blue Mountains were commemorated in 2013. One of the key characteristics of the 2013 commemorations was the importance of the spirit of Reconciliation, with the participation of the Darug and Gundungurra Aboriginal communities in many of the commemorative activities.
The RAHS drew inspiration for this project from both the centenary celebrations organised by its founding members in 1913 and from its goal of supporting local and community history. This project won a National Trust Heritage Education and Interpretation Award in 2014.
We would like to thank our partners, in particular the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet whose generous grant made the commemoration projects possible.
Discover the collections of historian in-the-field Frank Walker, President of the RAHS in 1913. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Frank Walker, an inaugural member of the Australian (later Royal) Historical Society cycled over 22,000 miles around country NSW taking thousands of photographs on glass plate negatives, some of which he used as lantern slides for his many lectures. Other images were also reproduced as illustrations in historical articles, and some were issued as postcards by Sydney publisher Tyrrell’s and are now considered collector’s items.
Learn how the RAHS has supported the community in honouring the diverse histories of Blue Mountains. This included supporting the Inaugural Gundungurra Ancestral Pathways Walk, a multi-day hike across the Blue Mountains plateau, from west to east following traditional Aboriginal Pathways. The walk was a celebration of the achievements of all people who have crossed the Mountains throughout time, specifically highlighting the uniqueness, richness and successfullness of Aboriginal occupation of the area.
Follow the footsteps of past RAHS members through the 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.
The RAHS published a special edition of its quarterly magazine History in September 2013 on the Bicentenary celebrations of the 1813 Blue Mountains crossing by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth.
The RAHS published a special edition of its quarterly magazine History in September 2013 on the Bicentenary celebrations of the 1813 Blue Mountains crossing by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. It included articles on all the main community projects, and a summary of the commemorative events. The events of the year reminded us that commemorations are opportunities to re-examine the past and our understanding of its significance. Read and reflect on the Blue Mountains crossings and they ways they have been remembered.
The major Western Crossings legacy project undertaken by the RAHS was making 300 photos and six rare publications from our library collection available online. The Frank Walker Crossing Collection includes the journal of one of the European explorers to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813, and scrap albums created in 1913 that captured the centenary celebrations of the 1813 Blue Mountains crossing by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. Click here to access materials on the Western Crossings from other cultural organisations and institutions.