The view you can see in this picture is from the sheer drop at the Mount York Lookout and is of the area known as Hartley Valley. To get here you have travelled 120km west from Sydney on the Great Western Highway all the way to Mount Victoria.
Just north of the town is the Mount York Road which will take you to Mount York. This is the point where early the Australian explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth viewed the west and it was this famous ‘first crossing’ which opened it to farming in 1813. (population of Australasia in 1811 was 11,525)
In 1814, William Cox assembled a team of thirty convicts and eight guards to build a road across the Blue Mountains. He started at Emu Plains on the 18th July 1814 and in just four months the team had completed a road covering a distance of 47 miles to Mount York.
In just six months, Cox had crossed the Blue Mountains with a road of one hundred and one miles all the way to Bathurst. My Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother (on my father’s side) Elizabeth Mitchell’s husband, Edward Field, provided blacksmithing services and sold produce to Cox.
Edward Field’s background is that he enlisted as a Private in the 102nd Regiment of Foot, the New South Wales Corps, on 27 July 1789, some 7 weeks after its formation. He came to the Colony of New South Wales with the second fleet, arriving in Sydney on the Scarborough on 28 June 1790
Elizabeth Mitchell’s background is that she was convicted on 6 March 1790 at the Assizes. Her crime was aiding and abetting in breaking into a dwelling in Studley, North Wiltshire, and the stealing of 5 cheeses and sundry other articles. She was sentenced to 7 years transportation. Elizabeth was transported on the Mary Ann, arriving Sydney 9 July 1791.
The First Fleet left England on 13th May 1787 for the ‘lands beyond the seas’, Australia, stopping at Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. The fleet arrived at Botany Bay between 18th and 20th January 1788 so you can see that Edward arriving in 1790 and Elizabeth in 1791 were among the first settlers. (population of Australasia in 1788 was 1,035)
Elizabeth Mitchell was born about 1770 in England and married Edward Field on the 20/2/1805 at Parramatta. She died 24/6/1837 at Castlereagh “aged 67”. She had 9 children however her first child Sarah is my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother.
Elizabeth’s children were (by James Wilson) Sarah (by Edward) Mary Ann, Edward, Maria, George, William, Sophia, Thomas, John.
The next generation of my ancestors, being Sarah, her husband James Morris and their 15 children followed Cox’s road to settle in Hartley. Succeeding generations went on to Bathurst and finally ended up 35kms west of the central western New South Wales town of Forbes in the much smaller township of Bedgerabong which is 420 kms west of Sydney.
I am now on my way to trace their journey. My next stop will be Hartley.