Governor Macquarie and the Origins of ‘Spring Wood’
There is not much of note for students of Warrimoo’s history in Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s carriage-ride across the Mountains. Of course he was assessing Cox’s work and was keen to see the countryside so effusively described by Evans, west of the Divide. No doubt his carriage rolled past the bushland that is now Warrimoo on the first day of his crossing, at a consistent jog.
Macquarie’s journey is
pertinent to Warrimoo for one very good reason. His first encampment on the Blue Mountains was amid “…an extensive forest of large
lofty trees mostly of stringy and iron bark.” This
forest was adjacent to a “…spring where we had been supplied with water,
situated about a mile down a deep glen….The water is good, but something of a
mineral quality. From this spring and the surrounding forest, the Governor gave
the name of Spring Wood to this station.”
Such was the description given by Major Henry Antill, a co-traveller in Macquarie’s official party.
Thus Spring Wood became not only a “station” in Governor
Macquarie’s journey across the Mountains, but a second depot beyond the first
at Glenbrook Lagoon, where troops would be stationed shortly after a barracks
had been built there.
|Macquarie as Governor of New South Wales. He is wearing the dress uniform of the 73rd Regiment, |
his own unit of the British Army
|Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie, wearing the familiar bonnet and outfit of a 'travelling lady' of the early nineteenth century, the era of Jane Austen and the end of the Napoleonic Wars|
His ‘Oblique Purpose’
appeared to be almost fastidiously concerned with the issue of “safety”. Safety
from what? The oblique nature of his policy emanates from this seminal
The Governors of New South Wales had been operating, from the very beginning, under the clear British governmental order to maintain “amity and kindness” with the Indigenous people of this new land. Any news of uprisings or unfriendly attitudes from the natives that might have contradicted this policy would reflect upon the Governor concerned.
At the same time, the British government had enjoined its Governors to develop the colony by issuing Land Grants to worthy free settlers and emancipated convicts. This, in reality, created a contradiction of the previous policy, and was a difficult juggling act to execute. Hence
fastidiousness about travelers and settlers requiring “passes” to move westward
beyond the depots.
At the very time Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson returned
from their quest to cross the Blue Mountains and Cox’s road was being built
(1814), trouble had been brewing along the Southern banks of the
with the Gundangarra people. The Gundangarra had felt that further settlement
along the river was impinging on their lands and resources. Severe drought had
driven both Indigenous and white contestants for the land to desperation. Violence
had erupted and several deaths ensued on both sides. Nepean River
|Another version of Macquarie the Governor--he took a fastidious interest in all developments in the colony, |
and ruled it as a 'benevolent despot'
This violence had escalated through 1815 and 1816, so much so that the Governor felt obliged to set up garrisons like the ones at Glenbrook Lagoon and Spring Wood, and maintain them for the safety of all concerned...
The necessity for establishing, and strictly enforcing this Regulation (ie “passes’”—Ed) is too obvious to every one who will reflect on it, to require any explanation here.
For a man who articulated every order to the letter, this is a very coy explanation of the purpose of the depots. Obviously there was a need for “safety” against criminal depredations such as highway robbery, and for supervision of convict ‘Ironed Gangs’ later on, but taken in context, the main purpose of these “stations” or “depots”, was to protect travelers from Aboriginal attack and provide some degree of security for those daring enough to take a leap into the wilderness.
At first, travelers took refuge at the military depots, which was, no doubt, a growing imposition on the soldiers therein, or they camped alongside the road and took their chances.
Two Inns, with ‘Warrimoo’ in the Middle
This is where the two famous Inns come into the picture. In 1825, a man who had received a Land Grant in the (present) Blaxland area, Barnett Levey, set up an
Inn to greet
travelers who had just ascended the escarpment. It was close to water, provided
grazing for livestock, stables, ‘victuals’ and a warm, safe bed. Soldiers were
but a ‘Halloo!’ away, and security was reasonably certain. The name of this
first place of rest was the ‘Pilgrim Inn’, the remains of which are found
behind the ‘McDonalds’/’Quix’ outlets at Blaxland today.
The second was set up near ‘The Valley’, and thus became
known as the ‘Valley’ or ‘Woolpack’ or ‘Welcome’
It was near enough to the water and grazing of Sun Valley,
but not too far from the garrison at Spring Wood. It was situated directly
opposite the current railway station
and began operations in 1832, just two years before the winding down of the
military barracks down the road. The famous and long-standing Valley
was run by Alexander Frazer.
This meant that the area currently known as Warrimoo was
placed almost equidistantly between the Pilgrim and Valley Inns. It was a
relatively safe place to camp by the roadside, so much so that early Warrimoo
historian, Maisie Lupton, survived long enough to remember an important
|The 'Pilgrim Inn' as it once was. Note the small building on the left of the picture...|
|...and the 'Pilgrim Inn' remnants as they appear today, probably the remaining walls of the building mentioned above.|
The place where they camped later became known as ‘Black Log Hollow’. Teamsters traveling to and from the west used to gather and light their fires at the base of a huge tree which eventually died. The blackened trunk became a well-known landmark.” 
So the district around Warrimoo became a popular campsite—in these very early years of European incursion it was an area more commonly inhabited and passed through by white itinerants and Darug groups than others, such as Weatherboard and Blackheath, more remote and further to the west. Already, its geographic and functional identity was being framed.
A Further Note on
|An Aboriginal campsite--the Gundungarra traditionally built such shelters for guests|
A Further Note on
The assessment of Governor Lachlan Macquarie remains one of ambivalence towards the Indigenous population he confronted. He was a typically determined British ‘liberal thinker’ who sought to establish a just society in his infant domain. He ruled it as a benevolent despot, but reacted ruthlessly when his authority was challenged.
In 1814 he attempted to address the issue of Aboriginal discontent head on. He called for a ‘muster’ and ‘Feast Day’ of all Indigenous people at
Parramatta. Around 60 were there, but most did not show up. He set up the ‘Native Institute’ with William Shelly
as its teacher and called for volunteer children to be brought in to be taught
to read and write and to assume ‘Habits of Industry and Decency’, but only six
Loyal and cooperative Darug people such as Colebee, Nurrangingy and Bungaree, were given metal plates (called ‘Gorgets’) and promised land grants, but violence escalated in the Cow Pastures when the Gundungarra attacked farms for food, were shot by militia, and then took reprisals among the settlers, including three of Mrs Macarthur’s Stock-keepers at Camden.
Now, faced with the collapse of the Native Institute and a
frightening erosion of order on the Frontier, the other side of
Macquarie emerged. He sent three separate military detachments to
different corners of the Nepean-Hawkesbury river system with orders to forcibly
‘arrest’ children and deliver them to the Institute. A list of wanted natives’
names was drawn up, including those of Goondel, Bitugally, Murrah, Yellana and
Wallah—deemed 'outlaws' to be hunted down, arrested or killed. If the latter,
their bodies were to be
|Bungaree with the uniform and gorget (metal plate) on his chest, given to him by Governor Macquarie|
…hanged up in trees in conspicuous situations, to strike the survivors with the greatest Terror. 
This was indeed a policy of terror, pure and simple. The hysteria of the pursuit drew an innocent Dharawal group into tragedy, when Captain Wallis’ detachment surprised an encampment on Mr. William Broughton’s farm at Appin. In the ensuing melee shots were fired at the fleeing natives, many of whom were women and children and many of whom were said to have been panicked off a nearby cliff.
According to Wallis, fourteen bodies were counted killed, but there was no estimate of the numbers who disappeared over the cliff. Wallis claimed that two Gundungarra outlaws were among those counted as dead: Durelle and Kanabygal.
The violence did not end with the recall of the detachments and the capture of dozens of Indigenous warriors and children. Attacks and reprisals continued. In 1817,
rigid restrictions on natives in ‘settled’ areas: they were not to carry
weapons, nor assemble in groups of more than six, and ritual battles were
Yet the stubborn Governor continued his ‘carrot’ approach as
well. He handed out more gorgets and land grants and monetary rewards. He
heaped praise and awards upon those students in the Native Institute who
performed outstandingly. He persisted with the Feast Days at
Parramatta, and ironically the number in
attendance grew to 300 plus. Wiradjuri groups from Bathurst walked over the Mountains, along the
road, past Spring Wood and Warrimoo, just to attend the Governor’s Feast. By
1820, the warfare had subsided.
|Macquarie imposed oppressive restrictions on Aboriginal nations, yet retained the respect of many of their number|
In 1821 the Bigge Report signaled the end of
Macquarie’s autocracy. Now power passed to shorter-term
Governors and the ruling pastoral elite. Policies changed. Increased land
grants, larger in size and greater in number, flowed outwards from Bathurst. More convict
labour was allocated to the big stations, and population grew beyond control.
By 1823 the Wandradyne/Wiradjuri revolt was in full swing, and violence
returned to the frontier.
|Another view of Elizabeth Macquarie--she left New South Wales with her husband in 1822. He fought |
to restore his reputation in Britain, but died in 1824
 MACKANESS, G., op. cit., ‘Antill’s Journal April 26th’ p. 85
 Ibid, p. 85
 Ibid., ‘Tour Over the Western or
Blue Mountains’, Governor Macquarie, p.81
 LUPTON, Maisie et al, Warrimoo Public School, The First Twenty-Five Years, magazine published by Warrimoo Public School Anniversary Committee, 1987, p.11