In November 1810 Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1824) and Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie visited the Cowpastures. On that occasion, the Governor met the Dharawal people and also Elizabeth Macarthur. Two hundred years later to the day, in 2010, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO Governor of New South Wales visited the same locality and met descendants of the Dharawal people and the Macarthur family.
More than 300 people were part of the crowd that witnessed Governor Professor Marie Bashir unveil a plaque at Baragil lagoon where Governor Macquarie’s party camped. (Macarthur Chronicle 23 November 2010)
Glenda Chalker told those assembled for the celebrations that the Dharawal people had an important role in establishing Camden Park. They formed close bonds with the Macarthur family and remained on the property until the 1970s. (The District Reporter 22 November 2010)
Governor Macquarie met Mrs Elizabeth Macarthur on Camden Park in what he called a ‘small miserable hut’ on Monday 19 November 1810. (see extract below)
Belgenny Farm used archaeologists to try and locate the location of Macquarie’s ‘small miserable hut’ that Mrs Elizabeth Macarthur lived in during her visits to Camden Park. The dig took place during May 2009 under the supervision of archaeologist Dr Ted Higginbotham. (Camden Advertiser, 13 May 2009)
The dig had a staff of 15 volunteers and four staff who carefully uncovered the footings. The dig uncovered the foundations of a typical 1820s two bedroom convict hut, and discovered a third room. Dr Higginbotham stated that the dig unfolded like a ‘detective story’. (Camden Narellan Advertiser, 24 November 2010)
In 1810 Governor Lachlan Macquarie came out to do a tour of inspection of the Cowpastures. These are extracts from his diaries he kept on his journey. He left Sydney with his wife, who travelled in a carriage on Tuesday 6 November 1810.
Read for yourself in the words of the Governor Macquarie what he thought as he travelled over the Cowpastures over 200 years ago.
Extracts from the Diary of Governor Lachlan Macquarie 1810
Friday 16 November
we arrived at the Government Hut close to the East Bank of the Nepean River at Half past 9 o’clock, being a distance of 26 measured miles in three Hours and a half. — The Country through which we passed between Parramatta and the Nepean was generally an open Forest, a tolerable good Soil, and the Road pretty good. — There being very little Water in the River at this time, we crossed it at the usual Ford in our Carriage with great ease and safety;
We passed through Mr. McArthur’s first Farm, called by the natives “Benkennie”, and arrived at our Halting Place, called “Bundie”, at half past 1 o’clock in the afternoon, being six miles in a South West Direction from the Ford. –We came in the Carriage all the way, through a very fine rich Country and open Forest, and on the way to our Ground we met two or three small Parties of the Cow-Pastures Natives — the Chief of whom in this Part is named Koggie; who with his wife Nantz, and his friends Bootbarrie, Young Bundle, Billy, and their respective Wives, came to visit us immediately on our arrival at Bundie.
The Servants and Baggage did not reach the Ground till after 3 o’clock in the afternoon and immediately on their arrival our Tents were Pitched and our little Camp was formed on a beautiful Eminence near a Lagoon of fine fresh Water — the Tents fronting the South West — in a very fine open Forest within about 3 miles of the foot of Mount Taurus — and Four Mount Hunter; the latter being to the Northward, and the former to the Southward of us.
At 5 p.m. we sat down Eight at Table to a most comfortable Dinner; Mrs. M. tho’ so young a Campaigner having provided every requisite to make our Tour easy, pleasant, and happy — and we all feel much pleased with one-another — and with our present manner of Life. Being all a little tired, we went early to Bed this Night, after placing Fires around us, and a Watch to guard us from the Wild Cattle.
Saturday 17 November
We got up pretty early — and during the Night we heard the Wild Cattle Bellowing in the Woods. — Mr. Blaxland and Warlby went out early in the morning and shot a Wild Bull, which was brought in to Camp for the use of Servants and our other numerous attendants. —
In the course of this Day’s Excursion, which was through a beautiful rich Country consisting of Open Forest and Hills and Dales, we met with several numerous Herds of the Wild Cattle,
Sunday 18th November.—
Being rather a little fatigued after our Excursion of yesterday, we took a good long sleep and did not Breakfast till Nine o’clock this morning; and while we were at it, we were visited by Mrs. McArthur, who had come the Evening before to the Cow Pastures to look after her Farms and fine numerous Flocks of Sheep in this part of the Country. — As we asked Mrs. McArthur to dine with us today, she expressed a desire to ride about the Country with us during this day’s Excursion, which was of course readily assented to. — We accordingly set out on Horseback from Bundie at 11 o’clock to visit Mount Taurus and Mount Hunter, both of which are close in the vicinity of our little Camp; the former being about 4 miles S.W. of it, and the latter about 6 miles N. West of it. — We first ascended Mount Taurus, riding to the very top of it, from which we had a very fine extensive Prospect of the whole of circumjacent Country. — From Mount Taurus we proceeded by a long Ridge of Hills to Mount Hunter, and on the way thither met two or three Herds of the Wild Cattle, which allowed us to come very near them; and one of the Herds at first made directly at us but were scared away from us by the noise and shouting of our Guide and other Attendants. The view from the summit of Mount Hunter was also very fine and extensive; but I confess I was much disappointed with respect to the Height of both it and Mount Taurus, which hardly deserve to be called Mountains, and would only be classed as Hills in most other Country. — We returned home. by a different route from Mount Hunter, through a fine open Forest, to our Tents at Bundie, where we arrived about 2 o’clock; and after resting ourselves there a little while and taking some refreshment, we all set out to see Manangle a fine extensive Farm of 2000 acres belonging to Mr. Walter Davidson, situated on the Banks of the Nepean, and distant only about three miles from our Camp South East of it. — It is a beautiful situation and excellent rich Land for both Tillage and Pasture, with a fine large Lagoon in the Center of it, which is called Manangle, and is the native name of this Farm. — After looking at the River Nepean here and viewing the Farm, we returned to Camp again at 5 o’clock to Dinner, which we found ready for us
During this day’s Excursion we were-attended by some of the Natives, one of whom amused us very much by climbing up a high Tree to catch a Guanna, which he did in a very dextrous manner. In the course of our morning ride we were also much entertained with a Fight between some wild Bulls of two different Herds, which had accidentally met in consequence of being chased by some of our attendants.
Monday 19th November.—
Having seen all the Land in this Neighbourhood and also several different Herds (amounting in all perhaps to about 600 Head) of the Wild Cattle, I determined on breaking up our little Camp at Bundie this morning after Breakfast and recrossing the Nepean, after viewing the Land to the Northward of Mr. McArthur’s Farms on this same side of the River. —We all set out accordingly at half past 9 o’clock, having left our Baggage and Servants to follow us leisurely to the River. We called at Benkennie on Mrs. McArthur, with whom we sat for a little while in a small miserable Hut, and then pursued our way to the Ford, where we arrived at 11 o’clock; and having sent the Carriage across, we mounted our Horses to look at the Country in this Neighbourhood for a few miles to the Northward.