Monday, 15 April 2013

2 The Road under Macquarie

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 as Governor of New South Wales. He is wearing the dress uniform of the 73rd Regiment,
his own unit of the British Army
Yet 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.”[1] 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.”[2] Such was the description given by Major Henry Antill, a co-traveller in Macquarie’s official party.

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
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.

His ‘Oblique Purpose’

Macquarie’s purpose in setting up the two stations was somewhat oblique. From the outset, it was clear that he wanted to closely supervise the settlement across the Mountains. The two “stations” would ensure that no traveler on the Bathurst road would pass without the Governor’s express permission. Thus the future of the road would be tightly controlled.

Secondly, Macquarie appeared to be almost fastidiously concerned with the issue of “safety”. Safety from what? The oblique nature of his policy emanates from this seminal question.

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 Macquarie’s fastidiousness about travelers and settlers requiring “passes” to move westward beyond the depots.

Another version of Macquarie the Governor--he took a fastidious interest in all developments in the colony,
and ruled it as a 'benevolent despot'
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 Nepean River 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.

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.[3]

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 'Pilgrim Inn' as it once was. Note the small building on the left of the picture...
The second was set up near ‘The Valley’, and thus became known as the ‘Valley’ or ‘Woolpack’ or ‘Welcome’ Inn. 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 Valley Heights 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 Inn was run by Alexander Frazer.

...and the 'Pilgrim Inn' remnants as they appear today, probably the remaining walls of the building mentioned above.
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 rest-over site:

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.” [4]

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.

An Aboriginal campsite--the Gundungarra traditionally built such shelters for guests

A Further Note on Macquarie

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 attended.

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.

Bungaree with the uniform and gorget (metal plate) on his chest, given to him by Governor Macquarie
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

…hanged up in trees in conspicuous situations, to strike the survivors with the greatest Terror. [5]

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, Macquarie imposed 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 ‘wholly abolished’.

Macquarie imposed oppressive restrictions on Aboriginal nations, yet retained the respect of many of their number
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.

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.

Macquarie’s policies went with the man. There was no more ‘carrot’: the Native Institute withered on the vine, Aboriginal land grants were buried, the Feasts faded from view. Only Martial Law remained, and a strain of deadly Influenza…

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

[1] MACKANESS, G., op. cit., ‘Antill’s Journal April 26th’ p. 85
[2] Ibid, p. 85
[3] Ibid., ‘Tour Over the Western or Blue Mountains’, Governor Macquarie, p.81
[4] LUPTON, Maisie et al, Warrimoo Public School, The First Twenty-Five Years, magazine published by Warrimoo Public School Anniversary Committee, 1987, p.11

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