Soon after the unveiling of the Glenroy memorial in 1936, it was indicated to the Blaxland Shire Council that many enquiries were received concerning the history of the memorial and the events it perpetuates. The suggestion was made that a booklet be prepared, recording the history of this interesting locality.
The Council, recognizing the need and general demand for such information, was fortunate in securing the services of Mr. W. L. Havard and Mr. B. T. Dowd, who willingly consented to write a brief history of the locality and the events connected with it. The result of their work is this booklet, a publication unique in Australian historical literature.
The narrative unfolded in “Historic Glenroy, Cox’s River” is based on documentary records and papers in the Mitchell Library and State departmental archives. It carries the authority of these records.
The Council has much pleasure in making available this interesting story, confident that the reader will derive from it some pleasure and inspiration. It records appreciative thanks to Mr. James Thompson of Glenroy, Hartley, who donated the site upon which the present memorial stands, and Messrs. W.L. Havard and B. T. Dowd, without whose assistance in having undertaken the whole of the research work and compilation of data the issue of this publication would not have been possible.
Just as the main tourist road to Jenolan Caves crosses Cox’s River beyond Hartley, New South Wales, it passes an historic camping ground. Here on the flats where above its junction with the River Lett the stream breaks past granite boulders the spot now long known as Glenroy was a haven for all who travelled on the original road to the Bathurst Plains.
It was on May 28, 1813, that Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson, with four servants whose names they ungratefully left unrecorded, arrived at Mount York in the course of the first passage of the Blue Mountains, and discovered to their great satisfaction that what they had considered sandy and barren land below the mountains was forest land covered with trees and good grass.
Trodden by the first white men to pass the Blue Mountains.
G. Blaxland, W.C. Wentworth and W. Lawson, the first white men to pass the Blue Mountains, were the first also to visit the locality of Glenroy.
In the evening the horses were got down into the valley, where they “tasted grass for the first time since they left the forest land on the other side of the Mountains…” This day’s entry in Lawson’s Journal reads :
“Encamped at five o’clock on the Edge of a High Mountain obliged to go about 3 miles for water”, while Blaxland recorded that “they found water about two Miles below the foot of the Mountain….”. Thus by going beyond the escarpment and talus slopes at Mount York white man passed for the first time the dissected sandstone platform of the Blue Mountains. Next day, May 29, the horses were “fetched up” and the impedimenta then taken down the mountain through a pass in the rocks that had been discovered the day before. Through the valley the party proceeded about two miles north-north-west, most of the way through open meadow land clear of trees and covered with grass two and three feet high. The locality is that of Mount York Farm, once Collits’ Inn. They encamped beside a fine stream of water – the River Lett – intending to rest themselves and to refresh their horses. They had now entered grazing country, and “found the climate very different from either the top of the Mountains or the settlement on the other side…”
Mount Blaxland, three miles westward of Glenroy, was the terminal point of the exploring expedition of 1813.
After resting a day the party proceeded on May 31 “through the forest land remarkably well watered about 6 miles…”Since they crossed two fine streams of water, one running from the west and the other from the north-east, it appears that the ground at Glenroy was being trodden then for the first time by white man. Aborigines had been here not long before them, for Blaxland said “they came on some Native’s fires which they had left the day before…they appear on this side of the Mountains to have no huts nor to bark or climb the trees like the natives on the other side the only remains of food they had left round their fireplaces was the flower of the Honey suckle tree which grows like a bottle brush and are very full of Honey which they had sucked out…..”
Having thus penetrated the valley for several miles beyond the foot of the Blue Mountains where they had descended, the party encamped by the side of a very fine stream of water – Lowther Creek – a short distance from a high hill in the shape of a sugar loaf – Mount Blaxland. In the afternoon they ascended to its top, the termination of their journey. Blaxland remarked that “the stones at the bottom of the rivers are very fine large grained dark coloured granite the stones all appeared of a kind of a granite quite different from the stones of the Mountains or any stones they had ever before seen in the Colony, this day they computed they had travelled rather more than fifty six Miles through the Mountains in brush and scrubby brush land….and six Miles in forest land on the other side Computing the Mountain to be half a Mile down where they descended…” Returning on June 1, 1813, the party proceeded “back to the foot of the Mountain, at the place where they came down, and encamped”. The next day they began their homeward journey over the Blue Mountains by ascending to the summit of Mount York and proceeding along their marked track.