History - Three Explorers
Busts of the three explorers, by Terrance Plowright
In May 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth set off on the first successful European crossing of the Blue Mountains. Tracing what is now the Great Western Highway route between Glenbrook and Mount Victoria, the explorers reached Mount York before descending into the Kanimbla (now Hartley) Valley and then ascending Mount Blaxland, arriving back at the colony a month later in June.

Gregory Blaxland (17 June 1778-1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and one of the three explorers to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813. The Blaxlands were friends of Sir Joseph Banks. Gregory sailed in the William Pitt on September 1805 with his wife, 3 children, 2 servants, an overseer, a few sheep, seed, bees, tools, groceries and clothing. He bought 80 head of cattle on arrival in the Sydney colony and entered the meat trade.

William Lawson (2 June 1774-16 June 1850) was educated in London and became a qualified surveyor. In June 1799 he paid 300 hundred pounds for a commission in the NSW Corps, arriving in 1800. After a post on Norfolk Island, he returned with Sarah Leadbeater and their children to NSW, eventually settling in Prospect. In 1813 he set out from Prospect to meet Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth at Blaxland’s South Creek farm, from which the three of them left for the expedition which discovered the first satisfactory route over the Blue Mountains. In 1814 Governor Macquarie offered each of the three explorers 1000 acres west of the Blue Mountains. Lawson accepted the offer and in July 1815 he crossed the Nepean and set out to drive 100 head of cattle to Bathurst to take up his property, which he named Macquarie. In 1819 Lawson was appointed Commandant of Bathurst and during this period, he led a further three major explorations to open up the Mudgee district, where he became the first and largest landholder. Lawson went on to play an important part in the horse breeding and racing industry of early Australia and became a member of our first partly-elective Legislative Council from 1 July 1843 until 20 June 1848. William Lawson, known as ‘Old Ironbark’, often walked to Sydney on business, returning the next day. William Lawson died on 16 June 1850 and was interred in a family vault at St Bartholomew’s Anglican Cemetery, Prospect.

William Charles Wentworth (13 August 1790-20 March 1872) was an Australian poet, journalist and politician as well as one of the three explorers to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813. W. C. Wentworth was one of the leading figures in early colonial New South Wales. He was the first native-born Australian to achieve a reputation overseas, and was a leading advocate for self-government for the Australian colonies.

Source: Historical notes collected by Robert Brown
Old Ironbark, William Beard
Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788-1900), K.R. Binney
Australian Dictionary of Biography
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