Blue Mountains, Australia, History

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Crossing the Blue Mountains -5
3 Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia.

Cox builds the first road, 1814


• • • • • •

Secretary’s Office, Sydney,
12th July, 1814

It being the Intention of His Excellency the Governor to send in the course of a few Days a Working Party, of thirty Men, under the Protection of a Guard of eight Soldiers, to commence the Construction of a Cart Road from "Emu Plains" (hitherto erroneously called Emu Island) situate on the left Bank of the Nepean River, across the Blue Mountains to the extensive Tract of Champagne Country lately explored by Mr Evans; and William Cox, Esq. Of Clarendon Park, having in a very handsome and liberal Manner made a Tender of his personal Services in the Superintendance and Direction of the said very important Undertaking, His Excellency has accordingly accepted of his Proposal; and in Consequence has entrusted to his Care and Judgement the entire Execution of the said Work.

The Construction of this Road being considered an object of the first Importance to the future Prosperity of the Colony; and as it will be highly conducive to it’s being in the shortest practicable period, that the Persons now to be employed on it should not be interupted unnecessarily by others out of an idle Curiosity proceeding thither during the Time ### for its final Completion, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief deems it expedient to order and direct, that no Person of whatever Description shall proceed to the said Road, or cross over the Nepean River to "Emu Plains", during the Time which shall be occupied in the Making of said Road (the Road makers, Government Stockmen, and others employed on the said Work only excepted), unless specially authorised to do so by a written Pass, signed by His Excellency the Governor.

Any Person who shall attempt to transgress this Order will be apprehended by the Military Guard which is to be stationed at Emu Plains, and sent a Prisoner to Sydney.

When the Road over the Blue Mountains shall be rendered passable for Carts or Carriages of any kind, the same will be made known to the Public by an official Communication through the Medium of the Sydney Gazette.

By Command of His Excellency
The Governor,

J. T. Campbell, Secretary


The soldiers were in charge of the convict workers. They were also to protect the party against possible attack by Aborigines or escaped convicts. The local Aborigines were actually staying well out of the way, choosing to avoid the Europeans where possible

Cox insisted that the convicts be pardoned for a job well done, and each given a small grant of land.

The combined efforts of The Three Explorers, followed by Evans, had located a practical route to a desirable locality. William Cox now offered his expertise for the construction of a road, suitable for carts and carriages.
Onlookers would have hindered the work, and were not welcome. The authorities were also anxious to prevent convicts escaping over the ranges. Even after the road opened, one needed a pass to use it.
The road was constructed by hand. Rock was quarried and shaped into blocks for the construction of the many culverts.

Some of the original work remains visible to this day, such as the stone block wall at Woodford Bends and works on the Mt York descent, now a walking track.

Exploration of the newly discovered territory would soon reveal gold, coal, oil shale & other mineral wealth. The colony was about to take off.
Sydney Gazette July 12, 1814, p1.


Words to Find in a Dictionary

apprehend, authorise, conducive,  deem, erroneously, expedient, hitherto, intention, transgress 

W.M. Cox Road Builder  
Information compiled by one of Cox's descendants. 


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