By Ellen Hill
Help lighten the financial load of participants in the re-enactment of the first recognised European crossing of the Blue Mountains by attending the Walk the Talk fundraiser at Penrith Panthers on February 9.
The authentic costumed re-enactment in May by colonial explorers Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth in 1813 will be conducted from St Marys to Hartley just west of the mountains by the non-profit Blue Mountains Blue Wave organisation.
Each day of the crossing, the party will consist of three “explorers’’ drawn from descendents of the original 1813 explorers, three convicts, one kangaroo hunter, four horses and five dogs.
Mosman real estate agent Andrew Blaxland and his children Oscar, 20, Priscilla, 18, and Wilbur, 7, will join the last leg of the 21-day journey.
The great-great-great-grandson of Gregory Blaxland said he learned about the Bicentenary Crossings events through a cousin via social media, although he had been determined to become involved since a client more than 15 years ago gave him a copy of a 1913 journal featuring the centenary of the crossing.
The crossing event was a proud moment to this day for the Blaxland family at large, he said.
“I’ve grown up with people asking if I was related to the explorer Blaxland. There’s not that many Blaxlands around and every single one of them are related.
“It was a significant event in the development of the colony: they were running out of pastoral land and the crossing was the opening up of the western plains.
“It was a crazy adventure. It took them six months to get to Australia by ship; they built their houses by hand; dug pits and milled their own timber. It was a very different world and you’ve got to take your hat off to them.’’
Along with other descendants of the original explorers, Mr Blaxland will also attend the Walk the Talk fundraising dinner at Panthers on February 9. The event will feature a three-course dinner and entertainment by the Holroyd Swing Band. A range of sponsorship packages are available featuring great incentives, and donation of auction items are welcome.
Money raised will go towards Blue Mountains Blue Wave. As well as logistics, funds will pay for food, feed for the horses and dogs, and insurance.
A Blue Mountains Blue Wave organiser Trevor Lloyd said: “While everyone involved in the re-enactment is passionate about the event and the historical significance it represents, it cannot happen without financial support from community and business.
“It would be fantastic for other descendants of historic families which settled in the Nepean, Hawkesbury, St Marys, Blacktown and Parramatta areas to once again band together and make history by adding their family’s mark to this event through tangible financial support.’’
Meanwhile, the Blue Mountains Bicentenary Crossings 2013-2015 program will officially be launched at the iconic Echo Point overlooking the Three Sisters at Katoomba on Saturday, February 23.
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker said the re-enactment would be one of the most visual major events during the three-year program along with the Blue Mountains Flyover also in May which will involve up to 200 aircraft.
“Crossing the Blue Mountains is one of the most important milestones in our national history.
“Celebrating it is a privilege we will not have the opportunity to mark in our lifetime again. Therefore, our plans must be suitably momentous.
“These celebrations will be broadly appealing, including showcasing Aboriginal cultural experiences.’’
- The Walk the Talk fundraiser will be held in the Ron Mulock Room, Penrith Panthers, Mulgoa Rd, Penrith, at 6.30pm on February 9. Tickets: $80 or $720 table of 10. Auction items welcome. Bookings by January 30 essential: Trevor Lloyd on (02) 4739 2090, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.bmbw.org.au.