Travel on the pass roads
  The road down Mt York on the Cox's Road was a grade of 1 in 4. The descent was rather terrifying. Logs were tied behind carts to steady them down the steep grade. At the bottom of the road, the logs were unhitched and  left strewn on the side of the road.  These would accumulate so badly that parties of convicts were sent to clean them. 

To bring a loaded cart up the pass was a laborious process.  Heavy staples were fastened into the rocks at the steepest points with iron rings attached which acted as anchors.  with the aid of pulleys and ropes bullocks driven down the hill could assist laden vehicles up the worst pinches.

Reference was made to Cox's observations that sheep on the western plains would have to carry the wool on their backs up the pass and be shorn on the mountains.  Soon after the completion of the road, a woolshed was established at Blackheath near Mount York where the shearing was done until the opening of the Victoria pass in 1832.


Cox's descent of Mount York was abandoned in favor of a route which was credited to Lieutenant Lawson, who had accompanied Blaxland and Wentworth on the first expedition.  This route was in use in 1827 and carried traffic to the west until 1832. 

On 13th August 1827, Governor Darling issued a Government Notice offering reward of a "Grant of Land, cattle or such other reasonable indulgence as maybe preferred " to any "free person" who reported to the Surveyor of Roads a better route to Bathurst. It was to be understood that the route was to "avoid if possible Mounts York and Blaxland, the passage of which presents serious Impediment to the Communication with Country beyond the Blue Mountains"


Archibald Bell had discovered a route in 1823 from Richmond via Mount Tomah to Cox's River.  The track was extremely rough and some of the grades very steep.  The route was never popular and abandoned  in 1834.

In the early l830s a service to Bathurst (207 kilometres) was established by Ireland and Richards. It was the first route to necessitate an all-night stop on the journey.


The journey over the Mountains, particularly in the early years, was difficult and often dangerous. The road was rough and often eroded, which took a heavy toll on vehicles. At some points in wet weather it was virtually impassable. It followed its lonely and tortuous route along a narrow ridge top. On either side was the unexplored bush, forbidding and alien to minds still rooted in European traditions. Back then the Blue Mountains was not a place one wished to be in for too long.

In 1822, in a letter to her sister in England, Mrs Elizabeth Hawkins wrote a dramatic account of her family’s trip to Bathurst where her husband, Thomas, was to take up an appointment as commissariat storekeeper. With her eight children and her elderly mother to care for, it was an arduous and uncomfortable eighteen days she spent on the road.

You must understand that the whole of the road from beginning to the end of the mountains is cut entirely through a forest, nor can you go in a direct line to Bathurst from one mountain to another, but you are obliged often to wind round the edges of them, and at times to look down such precipices as would make you shudder. We ascended. Our cart had now three bullocks, as we had so much trouble to get on with two, but we were worse off than ever. As the ascent became worse they refused to drag, and every few minutes first one and then another would lie down. The dogs were summoned to bark at them and bit their noses to make them get up. The barking of the dogs, the bellowing of the bullocks and the swearing of the men made our heads ache, and kept us in continual terror. That was exactly the case every day of the journey. Meredith’s account reflected upon “a wild and barren country” characterised by “monotony” and “deformity”; and filled with “trees without foliage, hills and valleys alike destitute of verdure”. The contemplation of it oppressed her and she passed the time dreaming “of the green and beautiful plains of Bathurst” promised at the end of her journey

Before I entirely take leave of the mountains I must tell you that the tree which we chained at the back of the last dray when descending the big hill was forty-eight feet long, and at the extremity, on the boughs, were seated three men.

The only semblance of civilization to be found in this remote and lonely place was that afforded by the inns that started to appear at strategic points along the road from the middle of the 1820s. Following the establishment of Collit’s Inn at the foot of Mount York in 1823, the number of these accommodation houses increased as travel restrictions were lifted and the flow of people to the west accelerated.

Inn accommodation varied from the miserable to the comfortable as Louisa Meredith discovered during her journey in 1839.  After the steep climb up Lapstone Hill her party “stayed to breakfast at a small wayside public house, where the slovenly slipshod women, dirty floors, and a powerful odour of stale tobacco-smoke, gave me no very favourable expectations of cleanliness or comfort”. On the walls, heavily stained with smoke, hung a number of cheap, brightly coloured prints bearing titles like ‘The Faithful Lover’ and ‘The Bethrothed’.

Outside, the surrounds of “this comfortless habitation” were untidy and neglected, and rubbish was strewn around and between the “wretchedly dilapidated outhouses and stables” a strong smell pervaded the whole scene which was appropriately completed by a number of dirty children “lounging about in close companionship with the pigs ... but apparently less lively”.

It is not certain which inn Mrs Meredith was describing but The Pilgrim and The Lord Byron at the top of Lapstone Hill and The Woolpack at The Valley (Heights) are possible candidates.

Later in her journey Louisa Meredith sampled the fare at “Blind Paddy’s”, The Shepherd and His Flock Inn, at Pulpit Hill. Here her experience was somewhat better, the hosts being “a couple of decent elderly women” who welcomed the party “into a small but clean whitewashed room, gaily adorned with feathers, shells, and the droll little pictures usually found in such houses”.

After a repast “by no means contemptible” and warmed by “a bright wood-fire”, she enjoyed “a tolerable night’s rest” in a room no bigger than a ship’s cabin but containing “a clean dimity bed and window curtains”. The next morning found her “quite recruited and ready for setting forth again on our onward journey”.





You can see the amount of horses that is needed to pull the heavy piece of machinery across this dry river bed. There are 15 horses here exerting an enormous amount of effort in this image taken in  the 1870's