Government House, Sydney,
12th February, 1814
It having been long deemed an Object of
great Importance by His Excellency the Governor to ascertain what Resources this
Colony might possess in the Interior, beyond its present known and circumscribed Limits,
with a View to meet the Demands of its rapidly encreasing Population; and the great
Importance of the Discovery of new Tracts of good Soil being much enhanced by the
Consideration of the long continued droughts of the present Season, so injurious in their
Effects to every Class of the Community in the Colony, His EXCELLENCY was pleased some
Time since to equip a Party of Men, under the direction of Mr George William Evans, one of
the Assistant Land Surveyors (in whose Zeal and Abilities for such an Undertaking he had
well branded Reason to confide), and to furnish him with written Instructions for his
Guidance in endeavouring to find a Passage over the Blue Mountains and ascertaining the
Quality and general Properties of the Soil he should meet with to the Westward of them.
Object been happily effected, and Mr. Evans with
his entire Party all in good Health, the Governor is pleased to direct, that the following
Summary of his Tour of Discovery extracted from his own Journal, shall be published for
Mr. Evans, attended by five Men, selected for
their Knowledge of the Country, and habituated to such Difficulties as might be expected
to occur, was supplied with Horses, Arms, and Ammunition, and a plentiful Store of
Provisions for a two Months Tour. His instructions were, that he commence the Ascent of
the Blue Mountains from the Extremity of the present known country at Emu Island, distant
about thirty six miles from Sydney, and thence proceed in a nearly west direction as the
nature of the Country he had to explore would admit, and to continue his Journey as far as
his Means would enable him.
On Saturday, the 20th of
November last, the party proceeded from Emu Island, and on the 5th Day, having
then effected their Passage over the Mountains, arrived at the Commencement of a Valley on
the western Side of them, having passed over several tracts of tolerably good Soil, but
also over much rugged and very difficult Mountain; proceeding through this Valley, which
Mr. Evans describes as beautiful and fertile, with a rapid running Stream running through
it, he arrived at the Termination of the Tour lately made by Messrs G. Blaxland, W. C.
Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson.
Commencing in the western
Direction prescribed in his Instructions for the course of 21 days from this station, Mr
Evans then found it necessary to return, and on the 8th of January he arrived
back at Emu Island, after an Excursion of seven complete Weeks. During the Course of this
Tour, Mr. Evans passed over several Plains of great Extent, with Hills and Vallies
abounding in the richest Soil, and with various Streams of Water and Chains of Ponds. The
Country he traversed measured 98½ Miles beyond the Termination of Messrs. Blaxland,
Wentworth, and Lawson's Tour, and not less than 150 from Emu Island.
The greater Part of these Plains
are described as being nearly free of timber and Brush wood, and in Capacity equal (in Mr
Evans opinion) to every Desire and which this Colony may have for an Extension of
Tillage and Pasture lands for a Century to come.
The Stream already mentioned continues its Course
in a westerly Direction and for several miles through the Vallies, with many and great
Accessions of other Streams, becomes a capacious and beautiful River, abounding in Fish of
very large Size and fine Flavour, many of which weighed not less than 15lbs. This River is
supposed to empty itself into the Ocean on the western Side of New South Wales, at
Distance of from 2 to 300 Miles from the Termination of the Tour.
From the Summits of some
very high Hills, Mr. Evans saw a vast Extent of flat Country laying in a westerly
Direction, which appeared to be bounded at a Distance of about 40 Miles by other Hills.
The general Description of these heretofore unexplored Regions, given by Mr. Evans is,
that they very far surpass in Beauty and Fertility of Soil any he has seen in New South
Wales or Van Diemen's Land.
In Consideration of the Importance of these
Discoveries, and calculating upon the Effect they May have on the future Prosperity of
this Colony, His Excellency the Governor is Pleased to announce his Intention of
presenting Mr. Evans with a Grant of 1000 Acres of Land in Van Diemens Land, where
he is to be stationed as Deputy Surveyor; and further, to make him a pecuniary Reward from
the Colonial Funds, in Acknowledgement of his diligent and active Services on this
His Excellency also means to make a pecuniary
Reward to the two Free Men who accompanied Mr. Evans, and a Grant of Land to each of them.
To the three Convicts who also assisted in this Excursion, the Governor means to grant
Conditional Pardons and a small Portion of Land to each of them, these Men having
performed the Services required of them entirely to the Satisfaction of Mr. Evans.
The Governor is happy to
embrace this Opportunity of conveying his Acknowledgements to Gregory Blaxland and William
Charles Wentworth, and Lieutenant William Lawson, of the Royal Veteran Company, for their
enterprizing and arduous Expeditions on the Tour of Discovery which they voluntarily
performed in the Month of May last, when they effected a passage over the Blue Mountains,
and proceeded to the Extremity of the first Valley particularly alluded to in Mr. Evan's
Tour, and being the first Europeans who had accomplished the Passage over the Blue
Mountains. The Governor is desirous to confer on these Gentlemen substantial Marks of his
Sense of their meritorious Exertions on this Occasion, means to present each of them with
a Grant of 1000 Acres of Land in this newly discovered Country.
By Command of His Excellency
J.T. Campbell, Secretary
Lawson and Wentworth had crossed the Blue Mountains and found farming land in the
Hartley region, but they had neither crossed the Great Divide nor found any large area
suitable for farming. Further exploration was needed, and George Evans wanted to go.
Following Evans' return, Governor Macquarie had his secretary prepare a
newspaper article from Evans' diary.
Guns would be needed to
hunt animals for fresh meat. They would also have been used for defence, in the event of
an attack by aborigines or escaped convicts. Other supplies are likely to have included
salted meat, flour, tea, cooking utensils; shoes & other supplies for the horses;
writing equipment (quill pens, ink, paper); compass & sextant for navigation.
Supplies would have been carried in canvas and
leather bags, wooden boxes, & glass bottles. No lightweight equipment was available in
The men wore heavy clothing of wool, cotton and
leather. Oiled canvas provided protection from rain.
|Emu Island, erroneously named, later
became Emu Plains.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie
|The group would continue west until
their supplies ran low. They would need to keep enough for the journey
|Evans reached Mt Blaxland, a short
distance west of the Coxs River and Hartley; the termination of Blaxland, Lawson
& Wentworth's explorations.
He then crossed the Great
Dividing Range, and explored west to a point near Bathurst, before turning back
Evans named the river Macquarie, after the governor.
Australia was thought to have a vast inland sea. Many expeditions
attempted to find it before the truth was realised - the "sea" is a sea of
|Recognising their need to make an honest
living, the Governor granted the freed convicts land on which to make a fresh start as
Governor Macquarie's liberal practices, which
included giving convicts the opportunity to earn a pardon, were frowned on in London. He
was replaced by a more disciplinarian governor.
The men had worked hard to earn their rewards, including the
grants of Crown Land. But did the Crown really own the land, or was it stolen from the
Gazette, February 12, 1814 p1.