Crossing journey begins

(l-r) Robert Bettington (Lawson descendant) and Chris Blaxland (Blaxland descendant) leave Blaxland farm on their journey to cross the Blue Mountains as their descendants did 200 years ago on May 11, 1813. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

(l-r) Robert Bettington (Lawson descendant) and Chris Blaxland (Blaxland descendant) leave Blaxland farm on their journey to cross the Blue Mountains as their descendants did 200 years ago on May 11, 1813. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By Ellen Hill

Three explorers, four servants, horses, dogs, even the haze and chill of an autumn morning. The scene of Saturday’s launch of the Blue Mountains Blue Wave re-enactment walk was almost a replica of the famed Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth trek of 1813.

Almost.

This trek set off with much more fanfare than the last which just, well, set off.

In contrast, one of the major events of the Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary 2013-2015 program of events, the re-enactment walk was farewelled by NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir (Macquarie barely acknowledged the original crossing and then begrudgingly).

Hundreds filed into Gregory Blaxland’s former farm at South Creek, St Marys, to witness Blue Mountains Blue Wave founder John O’Sullivan’s dream become reality.

Unlike the last foray over the mountains, careful consideration was given to the Aboriginal people whose land it originally was.

Chris Blaxland pauses just outside Blaxland's farm at St Marys as he contemplates the historic venture he has just embarked on. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Chris Blaxland pauses just outside Blaxland’s farm at St Marys as he contemplates the historic venture he has just embarked on. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The gathered throng included dignitaries from all tiers of government such as Blue Mountains State MP Roza Sage, Macquarie Federal MP Louise Markus, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker, event host Penrith Mayor Mark Davies, Penrith area councillors, Penrith State MP Stuart Ayres and Senator Marise Payne.

Professor Bashir said the first recognised European crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 not only provided fresh farmlands for the starving colony and a pathway to future gold, sheep and wheat wealth, it represented the enormous string of achievements throughout Australia’s history and the world-renowned Aussie quality of mateship.

“Right across our land we are remembering those who set the compass for our wonderful, wonderful land that we know and love today,’’ she said.

State Environment and Heritage Minister Robyn Parker announced a grant to Blue Mountains Blue Wave to produce a video of the re-enactment walk.

Lindsay Federal MP David Bradbury praised Blue Mountains Blue Wave founder John O’Sullivan for persevering with his vision of a costumed re-enactment and making it a reality: “This is the most significant national event that has occurred in our great city [Penrith].’’

Poet and actor Dr Jack Thompson at the bicentenary re-enactment launch. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Poet and actor Dr Jack Thompson at the bicentenary re-enactment launch. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

One of the highlights of the event was the appearance of Hollywood actor Dr Jack Thompson, who read segments from the journals of Blaxland and Wentworth before paying tribute to the “anonymous bulk’’ of any community which supports its leaders – in the case of the crossing, the servants.

BMLOT chairman Randall Walker said: “I was delighted to witness John O’Sullivan’s dream become reality on Saturday and look forward to greeting the party as it makes several stops through the Blue Mountains during the next few weeks.

“The crossing of the Blue Mountains played a crucial role in our nation’s survival, akin to the discovery of Australia by Captain Cook and the landing of the First Fleet.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to commemorate and celebrate this feat and I am grateful to all those who have pulled out all stops to ensure this occasion is adequately marked.’’

Mr Walker also congratulated Penrith Council staff “for delivering an outstanding event in an historically significant paddock’’.

Young girls dressed in colonial gear tie their shoes at Blaxland's farm St Marys to continue their walk to see off the explorers. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Young girls dressed in colonial gear tie their shoes at Blaxland’s farm St Marys to continue their walk to see off the explorers. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Two centuries after the intrepid trio and four servants began their journey across the impassable Blue Mountains John O’Sullivan, the motor mechanic who found a map and became fascinated in an adventure, and Aboriginal elder Uncle Graeme Cooper set off at a jaunty pace across a paddock towards the mountains – equal brothers out for an adventure of their own.

 

(l-r) John O'Sullivan Blue Mountains Blue Wave founder, Aboriginal elder Uncle Graeme Cooper, Chris Blaxland (Blaxland descendant), Stephen Wentworth (Wentworth descendant and Robert Bettington (Lawson descendant) leave Blaxland farm on their journey to cross the Blue Mountains as their descendants did 200 years ago on May 11, 1813. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

(l-r) John O’Sullivan Blue Mountains Blue Wave founder, Aboriginal elder Uncle Graeme Cooper, Chris Blaxland (Blaxland descendant), Stephen Wentworth (Wentworth descendant and Robert Bettington (Lawson descendant) leave Blaxland farm on their journey to cross the Blue Mountains as their descendants did 200 years ago on May 11, 1813. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

 

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