On Tuesday 3 October 2017 Dr Ian Willis presented a talk to Narellan Rotary Club at Harrington Park Country Club, Harrington Park, NSW. The title of the presentation was ‘The Cowpastures, just like an English landscape’.
Summary of the presentation
The early colonial European settlers in the Cowpastures were the key players in the story of creating an English-style landscape along the Nepean River. The settlers took possession of the countryside from the Dharawal Aboriginal people and re-made it in their own vision of the world.
They constructed a cultural landscape made up of an idealised vision of what they had left behind in the ‘Old Country’. For the European settlers the new continent, and particularly the bush, had the elements of the Gothic with its grotesque and the demonic, and the English-style landscape aesthetic they created was one attempt to counter these forces.
Settlers used the aesthetic to assist the creation of a new story on an apparently blank slate and in the process dispossessed and displaced the Indigenous occupants. The new landscape was characterised by English placenames, English farming methods and English settlement patterns, with only cursory acknowledgement of Indigenous occupation.
The early settlers had such a profound impact on the countryside that their legacy is still clearly identifiable today even after 200 years.
The Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens are some of the most important open spaces and parkland in Australia’s urban places. The 29 hectares of gardens are surrounded by 51 hectares of parkland including the Sydney Domain. The gardens are traditionally divided into 4 sections the Middle Garden, the Upper Garden, the Lower Garden and the Garden Palace Grounds. They were officially recognised as a botanic gardens in 1816 and while it only became the ‘Royal’ in 1959. The site is one of the world’s oldest colonial botanic gardens and one of the most important botanical sites in the Southern Hemisphere (only Rio de Janeiro is older). The area attracts around 4 million visitors a year.
The Dictionary of Sydney states that the gardens reflects:
the changing styles of ‘public gardens’ – from the utilitarian beds that provided the necessities of life in the early years, to the emerging styles associated with new ideas about landscape gardening for visual effect, to the overwrought overkill of Victoriana, with statues, urns, terraces, ponds, plinths and obelisks at every turn, through to the contemporary acceptance of the validity of ‘native’ flora as a legitimate focus in a public garden.
The Botanic Gardens were the site of the first government farm in the colony of New South Wales in 1788 (Middle Garden) and called the Governor’s Farm in 1792. Governor Phillip ordered the cultivation of 20 acres in 1788 and the area was part of Governor Phillip’s private reserve. The original farm furrows are evident in the alignment of the longitudinal beds of shrubs. The Governor’s Domain was one of the first pleasure grounds in the colony established in 1792 by Governor Phillip.
There were some private land grants on the eastern side of Farm Cove (1800-1807) which were resumed under Governor Bligh when carriage roads were built around Bennelong Point and Farm Cove in 1807. The main botanic farm function was transferred to Rose Hill at this time under Governor King. The Royal Botanic Gardens Trust states that in 1810
The new Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, terminate[d] leases and embarks on wall and fence building to re-establish the Domain as the Governor’s private parkland. His walls and rules [were] flouted.
The gardens link the oldest surviving group of Governor Macquarie period buildings in Australia along Macquarie Street (1810). There is also Governor Macquarie’s landscaping of the Domain with a gate and sandstone wall. The wall now separates the Lower and Middle Garden, was used to protect the garden from the harbour and built between 1812 and 1816. In Governor Macquarie’s time (1816) Mrs Macquarie Road was completed around the Domain to Mrs Macquarie Point.
The work of the gardens illustrates the associations with 18th century European scientific world of Sir Joseph Banks, Sir William Hooker and others. The gardens are Australia’s oldest scientific institution (1816) for botany and horticulture. In 1821 Superintendent Charles Fraser, a botanist, was appointed to develop the gardens along scientific grounds for the first time. Fraser accompanied John Oxley on his inland journeys and brought back plant specimens.
In 1825 Governor Brisbane extended the garden west of Farm Cove for an experimental garden to acclimatise Australian plants for export and imported plants. Colonists were interested in ‘exotics’ and brought many of them with them and were added to the garden plant collection. In 1829 grape vines were planted that became important in the foundation of the Australian wine industry.
In 1831 Governor Bourke opened the roads and paths for general access despite conservative opposition.
By the 1850s military, sporting and ceremonial events became common in the Domain. The area was the home of first class cricket in New South Wales from 1857 to 1871 and the first interstate match was held in the Domain in 1851 when NSW defeats Victoria. There were the first swimming championships in 1846 and a gymnasium (public playground).
In 1837 construction commenced for the new government house in the northern section of the Domain. It was completed in 1845. The area was the site of the Australia’s first zoo, an aviary in 1860 which was expanded into a larger facility with a monkey house in 1880. Eventually the zoo was relocated to Moore Park in 1883.
The Domain and gardens were the site of the 1878 International Exhibition and the Garden Palace (1879) which burnt down is spectacular fire in 1882, was the first exhibition in Australia featuring arts and industrial displays. The Garden Palace was located between the Conservatorium of Music (formerly the Government House Stables) and Macquarie Street. The site is the highest point in the garden and was originally surrounded by a paling fence for grazing the governor’s stock. The Central Depot in the gardens were the kitchen gardens for government house (Bridge Street, then Macquarie Street) from 1813 to 1870 and still has a rare glasshouse.
The sandstone wall adjacent to the Opera House with stone steps and iron railing is the northern boundary of the garden. The cliff wall was built in 1880 enabled the extension of Macquarie Street and is known as the Tarpeian Way. It provides a dramatic backdrop to the Opera House forecourt and gets its name from the famous rock on Capitoline Hill in Rome where prisoners were hurled to the deaths in ancient times. What are now the Opera House iron gates, were originally the Governor’s private gates, and built in 1870.
The Lower Garden was reclaimed from Farm Cove between 1848 and 1879 when the seawall was constructed with stone from the old government house in Bridge Street. This work extended the garden’s pleasure grounds with curving pleasure walks and plantings.
In the Domain the Hospital Road gate lodge and gate were built around 1865 and the Victorian gate lodge house was built on the eastern side of the garden. The Victorian herbarium building was constructed in 1899 and adapted as the visitor centre in 1982.
The Domain was quite extensive at one stage and successive governments have taken bits of it for various cultural institutions – Art Gallery of New South Wales (1885+), the State Library of NSW (1910+), Government House (1836+), Opera House (1966+), and Conservatorium of Music (formerly Government House Stables, 1816 and CoM, 1916+) – and oil tanks for the Navy in WW2.
The Domain has been a site of decent by the Sydney populace and the Dictionary of Sydney states:
The Domain has also had an important history as a ‘soap box’ arena, like London’s Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. ‘Soapbox Sunday’ may well go back into the late nineteenth century: in 1878, Baptist pastor Allen is reported to have gone there to speak on Irish Home Rule, after a riot in nearby Hyde Park.
The Domain has been the site of free opera events as part of the Sydney Festival since 1982.
The gardens and domain have suffered under the influence of modernism. In the 1920s the site was dug up using a cut and cover construction method to build the City Loop of the underground railway on the western side of the Domain. In 1956 the City of Sydney took the western side of the Domain and constructed a car park with the loss of 47 rare trees. The influence of the car again played out with the construction of the Cahill Expressway between 1958 and the 1960s and resulted in the loss of the Fig Tree Avenue planted in 1847, and the division of the gardens and the domain areas.
In 1978 the administration of the gardens and Domain were transferred from the Department of Agriculture (from 1908) to the Premier’s Department. In 1980 the state government passed the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust Act to secure the extent of the grounds and administration of Centennial Park administration became autonomous. The Friends of the Botanic Garden were established in 1982.
Development of the gardens and Domain occurred in 1970 and 1971 with the construction of The Pyramid as a tropical glasshouse, two annexes were established in 1988 at Mount Annan (native plantings) and Mount Tomah (cool-climate plantings), and in 2016 in the Upper Garden the new Calyx replaced the demolished Pyramid as the tropical plant centre.
The historian is advised to walk the ground of their studies and subject matter. When it happens it can be a real eye-opener. It challenged my view of these colonial stories and myths when I visited Baragil Lagoon in 2015 (see Blog post).
The site is quite scenic. It is open Cumberland Woodland with broken dappled light coming through the tree canopy and bird calls in the background. The site is largely undisturbed and is as described in Macquarie’s journal (see blog). If you shut your eyes you could imagine the scene in 1810 with similar sounds, smells and sensations.
As a I visitor was ‘walking on hallowed ground’ where the mighty and famous had gone before. There was ‘a spiritual experience and awakening’ to what others have written about before on these matters. The experience could be best described with words like ‘challenging’, ‘interesting’, and ‘enlightening’.
So what is the point of this pontificating?
It set me off of on a journey involving my curiosity. It prompted me to ask questions about the colonial period on the Cowpastures and its meaning.
But how to enter the colonial world of the settlers and re-examine the stories and narratives that I had been brought up with.
One attempt at this has been Stokes work. She has attempted to examine the historical and archaeological evidence and looked at the pre-colonial movements of the Dharawal people in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. She maintains that:
Spatial mapping of these historical observations is informative in its own right. Spatially formatted incorporation of tangible and intangible evidence of associations and connections within Aboriginal communities has been demonstrated to be a particularly valuable and meaningful approach (p4)
Stokes looks further at the concept of cultural landscape, a fundamental concept in the use of heritage in Australia. She states:
Country, for Aboriginal people, is organised and understood by people’s various and particular relationships with, and connections to it. Knowledge of the interrelationship of everything binds environmental, spiritual, aesthetic and economic categories of information and life (Wesson 2005:6). In contrast, European culture, at the time of colonisation at least, divided people, land and activities into discretely bordered classes and categories, organised hierarchically. European knowledge structures also involved separation of information into smaller and smaller parts (Wesson 2005:6) (p12)
She then states that a cultural exchange has shifted this binary view of the world. The
Understanding of plurality of meaning of things underpins both theory and practice in archaeology today (e.g. Hodder above and multivariate methods used later in this thesis). This shift in western thinking, as with all cultural change, is an outcome of exchange. (p12)
Questions and their validity?
This post is interested in the questions around settler colonialism and the opportunity it provides to reflect on the colonialism of the southern Cumberland Plain.
This post is just asking:
Is this an opportunity to pose a number of questions?
Examples might be:
Is settler colonialism an appropriate lens to the view the events, myths and perceptions of the colonialism of the Cumberland Plain?
Are there new types of colonialism at work on the Cumberland Plain?
What has the Appin Massacre got to do with any of this?
Colonialism and the popular imagination
So what are we talking about?
There are numerous myths and stories surrounding the colonial period on the southern Cumberland Plain. Some of these are part of the foundational story of the nation.
The Cumberland Plain has been subjected to many new frontiers that are global in nature. These frontiers have been based on ideas, culture, social, technology, political, and a host of other areas.
A new idea is born and it creates a new concept. This then spreads out across the globe in a wave like formation.
The wave process challenges the status quo. The new idea might become the dominant narrative or story.
There is the process of making and re-making places, societies, cultures, lifestyles and other activities.
One of these new frontiers has been the movement of people across the globe. Waves of people at various times in the past. They came to colonies of New South Wales to make a new life in a new land.
They came the colonies with the intention of staying in their new locality. They invaded and took possession of territory. One way of interpreting this is settler colonialism.
Settler colonialism is an area of study looking at the occupation of space and the occupation of land, particularly indigenous territory.
The concept of settler colonialism has been particularly applied to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada, while more recently Israel, Algeria and other localities.
Patrick Wolf expressed settler colonialism in terms of race with the binary notion of blackness and whiteness. This certainly applied to the southern Cumberland Plain.
Sydney’s Cumberland Plain has been the site of place making from late 18th century.
The landform has shaped the human response to the land, and humans have shaped the landform to suit their purposes.
From the later 18th century there have been a number of successive waves of invasion, succession, dispossession and displacement.
Each time a culture has attempted to create the dominant narrative, that is, form their own stories around the landscape.
There has been peace and conflict, hope and loss – all expressed in a binary context – good and evil, moral and immoral, black and white, outsider and insider.
When the colonial frontier arrived it was a movable locality where violence was part of the existence.
From the practice of naming landforms to taking ownership to outright conflict. The aim of the invaders was the possession of territory. They all intended to stay.
On the Cumberland Plain 18th century settlement of New South Wales can be expressed in these terms.
The new European arrivals were here to stay and took possession of the territory displacing and eventually dispossessing the indigenous people.
The New South Wales colonial authorities started making land grants and pushing Aborigines off their country. The Europeans named landform features and took ownership. They were re-making the existing landscape in their own vision of the world.
Granting land to Europeans by Europeans was structured dispossession of indigenous territory. This created conflict and violence, which has been well told by Grace Karskins’ The Colony.
The British came with a form of capitalism that created a market structure or market economy, where there was none and forced the indigenous inhabitants to take part in it.
The act of dispossession removed the agency of the indigenous people and removed and diminished their sovereignty.
The new arrivals came with new hopes and aspirations for themselves, while the act of dispossession created a loss of hope for indigenous people.
These acts were all played out on the Cumberland Plain ending up in the violent conflict that took place in the Appin region in 1816 and the loss of life. It was not the first conflict on the Cumberland Plain. There were clashes between new white arrivals in the Hawkesbury and Aborigines before 1816.
The wave of new settlers onto the Cumberland Plain had parallels in other parts of the world. The new frontiers of settlement across North America – the Western Frontier of 19th century America.
New Colonialism on the Cumberland Plain
Expansion of the urban frontier
There is a 20th and 21st century parallel to the dispossession suffered by the Dharak, Dharawal and Gundungurrra. That process is the movement of the urban frontier of Sydney’s rural-urban fringe across the Cumberland Plain from the 18th century.
The 18th century expansion of the British Empire and the settlement of New South Wales was an expansion of the urban frontier of metropolitan London and part of the British colonial enterprise.
The act of creating the urban settlement of Sydney was an in effect an act of expanding the urban frontier from the home country. One way to view the Great Britain in the late 18th century was as an urban market based economy.
As the British metropolitan project arrived from England in Sydney Cove it moved inland to Parramatta – Parramatta indigenous name, vs Sydney England name – and by 1810 into the Hawkesbury and the Nepean River.
This continued with new waves of arrivals.
The urban expansion of the 20th century was about taking possession of territory from settler farmers by new urban dwellers.
The new urban dwellers and the structured expansion of urban Sydney forcibly took possession of land. There was the resumption of land for roads and other infrastructure.
Sydney’s rural-urban fringe is the site of dispossession and displacement, hope and loss and parallels the early narrative of 19th century settler colonialism.
Sovereignty and the rural-urban fringe
The rural-urban frontier is a moving frontier that removes the sovereignty of existing land users and displaces them.
These processes have been studied by geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, urban historians, urban planners, architects and others interested in the construction of place.
These processes and human reactions were experienced by the Indigenous people that were displaced in the late 18th and 19th century on the Cumberland Plain.
Settler colonialism creates a re-imaging of the landscape and the themes of hope and loss are embedded in the narrative and stories that are created in the re-imagined landscape.
There are winners and losers and they each have their own stories of hope and loss. The Cumberland Plain has been the stage that these actors played out their roles in this story.
Appin and the urban frontier
Appin is currently undergoing a type of new colonialism. A new process of invasion and succession by a new set of invaders.
These new arrivals are dispossessing the existing landholders and removing their sovereignty. The new arrivals are taking possession of the territory. Sydney’s urban expansion is taking place in the new suburbs and estates that are appearing in and around Appin.
There are parallels between the conflict on the urban frontier and the colonial frontier of the 19th century and the bicentenary of the 1816 Appin Massacre and the creation of a new landscape by the new urban settlers.
It is an interesting question to ask: Has this process heightened the sense of interest in the commemoration of the massacre in the popular imagination? There has been extensive coverage of the bicentenary of the massacre in the media – Channel 7, Daily Telegraph, SMH, ABC Radio and others.
Some claim that there is a bad spirit as you drive through the area. Local Aboriginal people will not go to the area. While others have commemorated the massacre at the Campbelltown Arts Centre, and in song writing.
The massacre has been an act of forgetting for nearly 200 years. Broughton Pass is a beautiful location with a dark past.
The question is: What has caught the popular imagination on the bicentenary of the massacre?
Broughton Pass is largely undisturbed woodland. As you approach from Appin you pass through farmland much as you would have in the 1810s and abruptly come upon the gorge. Just as the military would have confronted the local Aboriginal people 200 years ago. This is brought out the art exhibition at Campbelltown Art Centre ‘With Secrecy and Despatch’.
What is the basis of the current interest?
Is it the possible acknowledgement of the past events and the violence of the colonial frontier on the Cumberland Plain?
There is a paradox in the act of remembering the massacre at Broughton Pass and the act of the forgetting and loss experienced in the resumption of rural farmland for housing.
On the edge, the making and re-making of place
To sum up.
The Cowpasture and Cumberland Plain are sites where there has been the making and re-making of place.
Place is constructed on stories, memories, ceremonies, traditions, celebrations around the dominant narrative.
The Cowpastures is part of the southern Cumberland Plain where there have been waves of new ideas.
One of these new ideas could be a re-interpretation of the dominant narrative using the methodology of settler colonialism.
It could ask more questions?
 Karen Stokes, Stone, Sources and Social Networks Tracing Movement and Exchange Across Dharawal Country, Southeastern Australia. BA (Hons) Thesis, UoSyd, 2015.
Grace Karskins, Appin Massacre, Dictionary of Sydney Click here
Macquarie is the Australian leader who used terrorism and slaughter to quell hostile Indigenous resistance to invasion and dispossession.
The colonial frontier was a violent location and many people suffered and died. Colonialism wreaked havoc on many cultures around the globe.
Was Governor Macquarie any better or worse than any other colonial administrator?
Over next 150 years it is estimated that over 20,000 Aboriginal Australians were massacred in frontier wars.
Is it fair to pick on Macquarie?
Macquarie orders that surrounded what is called the Appin Massacre in 1816 were quite brutal:
On any occasion of seeing or falling in with the Natives, either in Bodies or Singly, they are to be called upon, by your friendly Native Guides, to surrender themselves to you as Prisoners of War. If they refuse to do so, make the least show of resistance, or attempt to run away from you, you will fire upon and compel them to surrender, breaking and destroying the Spears, Clubs and Waddies of all those you take Prisoners. Such natives as happen to be killed on such occasions, if grown up men, are to be hanged up on Trees in Conspicuous Situations, to Strike the Survivors with the greater terror
Was ‘The Father of Australia” , Lachlan Macquarie, complicit in a mass murder?
The programme asks the question:
When Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered his soldiers to inflict ‘terror’ a group of aboriginal people at Appin, south of Sydney in 1816, did he then try to cover up what happened next?
The programme notes state:
In this program, we ask whether Macquarie tried to cover up an 1816 massacre of 14 aboriginal men, women and children at Appin, south of Sydney, by soldiers acting on his orders to “strike terror” into the indigenous population.
The participants in the RN programme were historians Grace Karskens and John Connor, journalist Paul Daley, Deputy Chair of the Tharawal Land Council Glenda Chalker.
The Appin Massacre is explored in a new exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre called With Secrecy and Dispatch. The bicentenary of the Appin Massacre is 16 April 2016 when ‘Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered the Aboriginal people within the region of Appin, NSW, be captured and or shot if they try to escape, as well as the displacement of their communities’.
Using the Appin Massacre as a catalyst, six Aboriginal Australian artists and four First Nation Canadian artists have been commissioned to create new works that either deal directly with the Massacre or draw from the shared brutalities across both nations.
New South Wales Colonial Frontier and Transportation
Govenor Macquarie was one of many actors on the colonial frontier in New South Wales. The colony was a military garrison and a penal settlement. Life was brutal. Life as a transported convict was brutal. Transportation as it was practised in the British Empire was close to slavery. Some in England in the Ant-Transportation League thought it so. A League was established in Sydney in 1849 to opposed landing convicts in Sydney.
The colonial frontier wars in North America and elsewhere
The colonial frontier wars in North America resulted in the deaths of thousands of Indians. There were frontier wars in Africa. The Spanish incursions into South and Central American could be called frontier wars.
‘Sugar slaves’ of Queensland
Were the actions of Macquarie as military administrator any worse than what civil administrators did in to so called ‘sugar slaves’ of Queensland?
According to the Queensland Historical Atlas states:
Australian South Sea Islanders today consider our ancestors to have been the Sugar Slaves. South Sea Islanders, transported to Australia as a cheap source of labour, worked in the development and establishment of the new Queensland sugar industry.
Read more on colonial frontier violence around the world
Read Paul Daley’s full article in the Guardian Australia click here
Governor Lachlan Macquarie, accompanies by Mrs Macquarie, made his final visit to the Cowpastures and the Campbelltown area in January 1822.He inspected the area around Cawdor, Camden Park, Brownlow Hill, and Macquarie Grove.
Maquarie also descended into the Illawarra and travelled through the area around Tom Thumb Lagoon and Lake Illawarra (Allowrie)
Read his diary entries:
Wednesday 9. January 1822.
I set out from Sydney this morning in the Carriage, accompanied by Mrs. Macquarie and Lachlan, at 7 o’clock, on a short Excursion to visit the Revd. Mr. Reddall & Family at Macquarie Field, and the Cow Pastures; having made an appointment with Sir Thomas Brisbane to meet us at the latter Place. —We arrived at Liverpool at 1/2 past 9, Breakfasted at Dillon’s Inn, and staid afterwards at Mr. Moore’s till 12 o’clock. We then pursued our Journey to Macquarie Field — where we arrived at 1 p.m. — and were most kindly & hospitably received by the Host & Hostess.
I found Mr. Meehan here, who had arrived from Bathurst on the day preceding.— My Servants & Baggage for my Tour to Illawarra had also arrived here last Night. —We sat down to Dinner at 5 o’clock, and went early to Bed.—
Thursday 10. January 1822
We got up early, and Mrs. M. and Lachlan set out with me in the Carriage a quarter before 7, o’clock this morning for the Cow Pastures, intending to spend a couple of days at Cawdor the Government Principal Station there.—
We found the Cow Pasture Road, generally, very rough and bad for Travelling and it took us two Hours and a quarter from Mr. Reddall’s to the Ford over the River Nepean at the old Government Hut, which is only a distance of 14 miles.
The Ford itself, and both Banks being very steep, we found much difficulty in passing; but we accomplished it without sustaining any accident. —From the Ford it is near 4 miles to the Government Cottage at Cawdor — where we arrived at a quarter before 10. a.m. the weather being extremely hot at that time. —Mr. David Johnston met us on the Road on the Eastern side of the River Nepean, and conducted us at Cawdor. Here we found Mr. De Arrietta a Spanish Gentleman who has lately obtained a grant at the Cow Pastures.—
This is the first time of Mrs. Macquarie’s visiting Cawdor, which she admires very much.
Nancy Moore followed us in the Curricle from Mr. Reddall’s, with Edmund Sorell — whom Lachlan had asked to accompany him to Cawdor. —We had our Breakfast soon after our arrival.—
At 2. p.m. Sir Thomas Brisbane, attended by Major Ovens, Mr. Oxley, Capt. Antill, and Mr. Murdoch joined us at Cawdor. —The Day being excessively hot, we did not dine till 6, o’clock when we sat down Eight Persons to Dinner.—
The Govt. Cottage at Cawdor has lately been very much improved, and enlarged since I was last here — and is quite sufficient to accommodate us all. —We went early to Bed, intending to ride out very early in the morning.
Friday 11. January 1822
I got up at 5, o’clock this morning — and soon afterwards Sir Thos. Brisbane, Mr. D. Johnston, & Mr. Murdoch set out from Cawdor to Brownlow-Hill to inspect the Govt. stock at that Station. —We had a very pleasant Ride along that rich Tract of Pasture Land extending from Cawdor along Mount Hunter Creek to Brownlow Hill, distant 8 miles from the former. —We inspected the Govt. stock there accordingly — and returned Home to Breakfast at 1/2 past 8 o’clock.—
After Breakfast, we mounted our Horses again and rode to Mr. McArthur’s Farm of Camden — where we inspected all his Improvements and Stock and returned Home again at 2, o’clock; having been this day 7 1/2 Hours on Horse-back.—Mrs. M. Lachlan, Teddy, and Nancy Moore went all in a Cart, on our return Home, to view at a distance Mr. McArthur’s Improvements — and returned Home by 5, o’clock.—We dined at 6 p.m. and went early to Bed, intending to rise very early tomorrow morning. Saturday 12. January 1822.
We all got up this morning at Half past 4 o’clock — and set out from Cawdor at Half past 5, o’clock; Sir Thomas Brisbane travelling with Mrs. M. me and Lachlan in our Carriage. —We crossed the Nepean at the Ford of Macquarie Grove, a Farm belonging to Mr. Hassall, and thence we travelled by the Cow Pasture Road to Mr. Meehan’s Farm of Macquarie-Field — where we arrived at 8, o’clock. —We had Breakfast soon afterwards. —After Breakfast, I accompanied Sir Thomas Brisbane to Liverpool to inspect the Public Buildings there, and remained with him till his departure for Parramatta — when I returned to Macquarie Field. The Revd. Mr. Reddall had Mr. Moore, Mr. Throsby, Dr. Hill, and Mr. Meehan to Dine with us, besides his own Family today.—
Sunday 13. January 1822 —
Mrs. Macquarie, Lachlan, and myself, accompanied by Mr. Meehan — and John and Nancy Moore — went this morning before Breakfast to see John Moore’s Farm in Minto District, adjoining that of Mr. Brooks. —We viewed and examined different parts of it — and Selected the fittest Place for building the House & offices on, which John Moore marked out accordingly. —This Farm is distant about 3 miles from Macquarie-field — and Eight miles from the Town of Liverpool.
In honor of their young Master, John & Nancy Moore have named their farm “Lachlan-Valley”. We returned to Meehan Castle at 9, o’clock to Breakfast.—The Revd. Mr. Reddall went to perform Divine Service at Campbell-Town — but returned Home to Dinner.—We dined at 1/2 past 5 — and went early to Bed.— Monday 14. January 1822
Got up at 1/2 past 5. a.m. At 1/4 past 6. Mrs. M. Lachn. Edmund Sorell & Nancy Moore, set out in the Carriage for Sydney — whilst I, accompanied by Mr. Meehan, set out at the same time on my intended Tour of Inspection to Illawarra, through the Districts of Airds and Appin; the Revd. Mr. Reddall accompanying us to Campbell-Town. —On our arrival there, we ordered Breakfast at Bradbury’s and whilst it was getting ready, I accompanied Mr. Reddall to see his Glebe and the Site he had selected for Building his Parsonage House on. —The Glebe is about 2 miles distant from Town, and very pleasantly situated commanding a fine extensive [view?] of the rich and beautiful District of Aids. —We were absent about an Hour and a Half absent [sic] — and then returned to Brad bury’s where we took a good and hearty Breakfast at Ten o’clock.
After Breakfast we proceeded to take a survey of the Township and the New Church — and which is a very pretty Building. The walls are up to their full Height and fit to receive the Roof, which is preparing and will be put on in the course of the ensuing week. We fixed on the Site of the Burying Ground, within a convenient distance of the Church — and which is to consist of 3 acres of Ground. —The principal Inhabitants assembled to meet us, and expressed themselves highly pleased at the arrangements made on this occasion.— The Revd. Mr. Reddall took his leave of us at 1/4 before 12 at Noon — and returned Home, whilst I and Mr. Meehan pursued our Journey for Illawarra.—
Mr. Bradbury is now building a very good two story Brick-House on his own Farm, and on a very pretty Eminence immediately adjoining Campbell-Town, as an Inn for the accommodation of the Public, and having asked me to give his Farm a name, I have called it “Bradbury Park”.—
Campbell-Town is 13 miles from Liverpool — and 8 miles from Mr. Meehan’s Farm of Macquarie-Field –; it is a very beautiful and centrical situation, surrounded by a rich, Populous Neighbourhood, and making a good stage for Persons travelling to the Southern and Western Districts.–
The Road through Aids and Appin for the first 20 miles from Campbell-Town is tolerably good — but from Mr. Broughton’s Farm all the rest of the way to the Mountain Pass of Illawarra is most execrably bad for any sort of wheel-carriage. —This very bad Road commences at King’s Falls, where we crossed the Head of George’s River very near its source, and from thence nothing can be worse — it being almost impassable for a Cart or Gig — and I confess I wondered at my Baggage Dray and Gig getting on at all without breaking down.
After scrambling over about 8 miles of this horrid rough Road we arrived at 4. p.m. at a Stream of Water in a Deep Valley about 9 miles from Mr. Broughton’s Farm, which I have named “David’s Valley” in honor of Mr. David Johnston who joined us here just as we were about sitting down to Dinner at 6, o’clock; and in this Valley we Pitched our Camp for the Night.—
Tuesday 15. January 1822
We got up at Day-break and had our Baggage Packed up and arranged, sending back the Curricle, and Dray with the heavy Baggage, to Mr. O’Brien’s Farm in Appin; the Road being too rough and bad to admit of their proceeding farther on the Journey to Illawarra. —We therefore put all the Baggage and Provisions required for our Journey on three Pack Horses.—
Mr. Cornelius O’Brien joined us at this station just as we were ready to set out. —
At 10 mins. past 6. a.m. we set forward on our Journey; and after passing over some very bad Road, and crossing the Cataract River near it’s [sic] source, we arrived at the summit of the great mountain that contains the Pass to the Low Country of Illawarra — the Top of this mountain being three miles from our last station. —On our arrival on the summit of the mountain, we were gratified with a very grand magnificent Bird’s Eye view of the Ocean, the 5 Islands, and of the greater part of the low country of Illawarra as far as Red Point. —After feasting our Eyes with this grand Prospect, we commenced descending the mountain at 20 mins. after 8, o’clock. The Descent was very rugged, rocky, and slippery, and so many obstacles opposed themselves to our progress, that it was with great difficulty that the Pack-Horses could get down this horrid steep descent. —At length we effected it, but it took us an Hour to descend altho’ the Descent is only one mile & a Half long. —The whole face of this mountain is clothed with the largest and finest Forest Trees I have ever seen in the Colony. —They consist chicfly of the Black-Butted Gum, Stringy Bark, Turpentine, Mountain Ash, Fig, Pepperment [sic], Box-Wood, Sassafrass, and Red Cedar; but the latter is now very scarce, most of it having been already cut down and carried away to Sydney. —There are also vast Quantities of the Cabbage, Palm, and Fern Trees, growing in the face of the Mountain, the former being very beautiful and of great Height. —
Finding that this mountain has never yet received any particular name, I have christened it the “Regent Mountain”, as it was first descended by Mr. Throsby in the year 1815, when our present King was Regent of the United Kingdom.
We arrived at a Creek containing a very pretty Stream of Fresh running Water about 1 1/2 miles from the foot of the mountain at a qr. past 9, o’clock, and here we halted to Breakfast and to refresh our men and Cattle. —I have named this stream of Fresh Water “Throsby’s Creek”, in honor of Mr. Throsby who first crossed it on his descending the Regent Mountain.
Governor Macquarie then inspected the area around Tom Thumb Lagoon, and Lake Illawarra (or Allowrie)
Wednesday 16. January 1822
We set out from Mr. Brown’s at 1/2 past 8 o’clock to explore the Country to the Southward and Westward; having first sent off our Servants and Baggage towards the Mountain over which the new Road from Illawarra to Appin has recently been made by Mr. O’Brien.
We proceeded through a very rich Country in a southerly direction for two miles, till we arrived on the left Bank of the Macquarie-River, a very pretty Stream of Fresh Water about 20 yards in Breadth, which falls into the Lake — and is full of Fish — with Cedar and other good Timber growing on its Banks. From the Macquarie River we travelled on in a westerly direction to Col. Johnston’s Farm near the foot of the mountains. This Farm is a very fine one, well watered, and contains some very extensive beautiful Meadows bordering on the Lake and River. We continued our Journey still in a westerly direction to Mount Throsby — which we ascended for the purpose of having a view of those parts of Illawarra which I had not time to visit. On our arrival on the summit of this Hill. we had a most extensive fine view of all the low Country to the Southward and Eastward of us — including the Sea, the Lake, and the River. —At 12 at Noon we descended Mount Throsby — and then directed our course backwards, through a fine open Forest, towards Mr O’Brien’s new Road, which we arrived at 2. p.m. —Having rested ourselves & Horses at a fresh water creek, at the foot of the Mountain we were to ascend, for half an Hour, we commenced ascending the first Range at 1/2 past 2; — and at 4. p.m. we arrived on the Top of the Mountain; which having obtained no particular name before, I have christened it “Mount Brisbane” in honor of the new Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane. I rode up the whole of the mountain, which is about two miles long, exclusive of the Ranges leading to the foot of it — which are at least two miles more in length. —The Road is perfectly safe and passable for Cattle, and is what may be termed a good Bridle Road; — and it might he made a good Cart Road with very little more trouble. —In ascending a very steep part of the mountain through some carelessness in the Driver, one of our Pack Horses with his Load, slipped and tumbled over three [text missing?] several times till he was stopped by a large Tree. —We all concluded he was killed, but the Load preserved him, and after being disengaged from it, he got upon his Legs again without being in the least hurt, or wounded. —We came up with, or rather overtook the Baggage about Half way up the Pass, which was fortunate, as we were thus enabled to afford the People in charge of it our assistance. With exception of this accident we all got up Mount Brisbane perfectly safe, and with great ease to ourselves.—
The face of this mountain is also studded with very large fine Timber of the same description as that on the Regent Mountain, but there are more Cedar Trees on the former than on the latter. —I had one noble Cedar (Red) Tree measured on this mountain which measured 21 feet in Diameter and 120 feet in Height; the size of it being greater, and the Tree itself a finer one than I had ever seen before. —The part of it which measured 21 feet in circumference was Ten feet from the Root of it, and continued to be of the same size for 60 feet above the ground. —I also saw here the largest and finest Box Trees I had ever seen in the Colony.
We had a noble extensive view of the Ocean and part of Illawarra from the Summit of Mount Brisbane. —We rested a few minutes on the Top of the Mountain, and then pursued our Journey towards Appin at 20 minutes past 4, o’clock, over a very good Bridle Road, tho’ a little rough and stony. —At 10 minutes past 7 p.m. arrived at a very pretty thick Forest, with good grazing for cattle, distant about Ten miles from the Top of Mount Brisbane. Here we took up our Ground for the Night, our men and cattle being rather tired. This day’s Journey is about 32 miles. —Mr. O’Brien has named this Place Lachlan Forest in honor of my beloved Boy.—
Thursday 17. January 1822
We got up early and Breakfasted — then had our Baggage packed up and sent off, and set out ourselves from Lachlan-Forest at 1/2 past 8, o’clock a.m. After riding Five miles over a tolerable good Road, through an open Forest Country, we arrived at the Cataract River at 1/2 past 9 a.m. the Banks of which are immensely high and rocky — and almost perpendicular. Here Mr. O’Brien succeeded in cutting out and forming a tolerable good Pass on either side of the River, and altho’ very steep he has brought over a Cart & Team of Bullocks through the Passes thus made on each side of the River. It is frightful to look at — but perfectly safe for Cattle and Persons on Horseback. I rode down the Pass on the Right Bank of the River, and up that on the Left Bank without once dismounting.
It appearing to me that Mr. O’Brien has great merit in constructing this Road (which was by subscription) with such few Hands and slender means, I have christened the Pass of the Cataract River after him, namely — “O’Brien’s Pass”. —He had only six men employed on this Line of Road (about 21 miles from Appin to Illawarra) with Sixty Pounds subscribed by the Principal Gentlemen who had large stocks of Cattle at Illawarra. Having crossed to the Appin side of O’Brien’s Pass, we pursued our Journey. —I called on Mrs. Broughton at “Lachlan Vale” 3 miles from the Cataract River, and remained an Hour with her & her Family. I afterwards proceeded on my Journey, calling at Mr. O’Brien’s Farm, where the Baggage was ordered to Halt — and wait our arrival. —Here I quitted my Horse for the Tandem and set out in it for Sydney at 1/2 past 12, o’clock, leaving my Servants & Baggage to follow next day at their leisure. —
I stopt [sic] at Liverpool to change Horses for Half an Hour, then set out again, and arrived at Government House Sydney at Ten minutes past six o’clock; finding my dear Mrs. M. and our Darling Boy in good Health, and sitting down at Dinner, with a few friends, namely Major Antill, Dr. Ramsay, and the Revd. Mr. Reddall.
I had almost forgot to mention that I left my Travelling companions Mr. Meehan, Mr. David Johnston, and Mr. O’Brien at the House of the latter, where they were engaged to dine previous to their proceeding to their respective Homes.
The early colonists of the Sydney area viewed the landscape from a number of different perspectives according to historian Grace Karskins in her book The Colony a History of Early Sydney (2009) . This also applied to the Cowpastures.
Landscape has a variety of meanings. The two most common are when landscape refers to all the visible features of an area of land; usually referring to the rural features and its aesthetic appeal of neat paddocks and fields. The other meaning is one applied in an artistic sense and is its pictorial representation of an area of countryside usually in a painting.
There can be different types of landscape, for example, cultural landscapes and physical landscape. Landscape has different meanings in different scholarly disciplines, for example, art (English landscapes of Turner and Constanble), photography (American Ansel Adams) literature (the idealised pastoral scene or bucolic in art, music and literature for example English poet Milton, William Wordsworth; an early form is the Aboriginal dreamtime stories; William Gilpin’s Observations on the River Wye was published in 1770, the idea of the picturesque began to influence artists and viewers and British romanticism), architecture (The term landscape architecture was invented by Gilbert Laing Meason in 1828 and was first used as a professional title by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1863) , and gardening (Italian influences of an arcadia – The English garden (and later French landscape garden) presented an idealized view of nature.- The work of Lancelot “Capability” Brown and Humphry Repton and in the Cowpastures, JC Laudon) These views of landscape are culturally derived and depend of the interpretation of the viewer, which is the essence of landscape and its contribution to the sense of place.
Karskins (Karskins:242) has presented seven principles of interpretation that she maintains were used by the early colonists of Sydney towards to new environment they took possession of the land in 1788. All are evident in the diaries and accounted of the Cowpastures by a host of Europeans who travelled through the area. They are:
Utilitarian – the economic benefit – the protection of the cows and the herd
Picturesque – the presentation of the Cowpastures as a result of the burning of the environment by the Aborigines –fire stick farming – the reports of the area being a little England from the 1820s – Hawdon
Regulatory – banning of movement into the Cowpastures to protect the cows
Political and philosophical – evils of the governors and transportation were the true corruptors of the countryside
Natural history – collecting specimens and describing fauna and flora – Darwin’s visit to Sydney – the curiosity of the early officers
‘New natures’ – the environmental impact of flooding along the Nepean River and clear felling of trees across the countryside
Emotional response – how the Europeans visor ally experienced the countryside – sights, smells, hearing, – and its expression in words and pictures
How these were used in reports and diaries depended often on the audience in England or France for the written work. Often the reports were used to promote a book and sometimes a set of paintings or sketches. Sometimes there were just personal comments in a diary, or reports were the basis of a book to published in England on the persons return home from Sydney.
The reports of the Cowpastures in the colonial period by a host of naval officers, military personal and surveyors have elements of the all these views of the landscape.
Anyone interested in exploring some of the aspects of these types of interpretation see other posts on this blog that mention:
Governor Macquarie returned for his third visit to the Cowpastures in 1820. Macquarie and his party set out from Parramatta Monday 16 October 1820 and journeyed through the Cowpasture in southern New South Wales. They returned to the Cowpasture on 3 November 1820.
Read for yourself Governor Macquarie’s journal of the trip.
Extracts from the Journal of Governor Lachlan Macquarie 1820
Monday 16. October. 1820.
Having resolved on making a Tour of Inspection to the new Country some time since discovered by Charles Throsby Esqr. to the South West of the Cow Pastures, I set out this morning at Half past Six o’clock from Parramatta on my intended Tour in my Carriage, with my old faithful Valet George Jarvis, having previously taken an early leave of all that is dear to me in life.
I sent off my Heavy Baggage on Friday last the 13th. Instant, together with my Servants under charge of Thomas Evans the Orderly Dragoon,
appointed for this duty with orders to halt at Stone Quarry Creek in the Cow Pastures till my arrival there. The Party to accompany me on this Tour consists of Major Antill, Lt. Macquarie, Mr. Meehan, Dr. Reid R. Navy, the Revd. Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Throsby; the two latter, and
Mr. Meehan having appointed to meet me at Liverpool or on the road beyond it. Halted at Liverpool to Breakfast and bait our Horses. At
9 o’clock set out from Liverpool; the Revd. Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Meehan having joined me there. Travelled in my Carriage by the
Bringelly and Cow Pasture Roads, to the Ford of the River Nepean at the Governor’s Hut where I was met by Mr. David Johnston the Supdt. of Govt.Stock and Mr. Charker the Prinl. Overseer of Govt. Stock, to guide the Carriage across the River and afterwards to the Prinl. Govt. StockYard.
I crossed the Ford on Horseback and found it very firm and good. The Carriage also passed it without any difficulty. After passing the Ford, I
went again into the Carriage to the Govt. Stock Yard, travelling all the way through a beautiful rich Parklike Tract of Country; the Stock Yard being 3 miles from the Ford. From the Govt. Cottage built some time since for the residence of the Overseer of Stock, there is a very fine Picturesque view of the Surrounding Country and of Mount Hunter in the foreground there being most excellent Pasturage for the Government cattle at this station. I inspected the Govt. Herds, consisting of 550 Head of young Cows & Steers, in two separate Herds. After inspecting the Cattle, we were entertained by Mr. Johnston with a very neat cold collation, wine & spirits which we all partook of very cheerfully.
Having finished our repast I mounted my Horse Sultan and rode along with the other Gentlemen over the Hills by a short cut to Stone Quarry Creek; Joseph proceeding the longer way, by Mr. McArthur’s Camden Farm to the same station, having by that route 14 miles to go which we go in 10 on Horseback. We passed through some very rich verdant Vallies between Mounts Taurus and Hunter before we ascended the Ridge which
connects them. We stopped for Half an Hour at the large Govt. new Paddock within Half a Mile of Stone Quarry Creek to examine the Govt. Invalid Herd at that station and found them greatly improved. This is the station where the Wild Cattle are first brought when caught to be
reclaimed. The Stockmen had the good fortune of driving in 19 Head this morning which I found in a separate Paddock and in very tolerable good condition.
From the New StockYard, we pursued our Journey to Stone Quarry Creek where we arrived at 1/2 past 4 o’clock and found all our Servants and
Baggage all snug and safe encamped on the South Side of the Creek. Joseph arrived with the Carriage in half an Hour after us. The Servants stupidly enough, had not Pitched our Tents; neither had they prepared any Dinner for us, which was still worse; but, as we had all made a hearty meal at Mr. Johnston’s, it was of the less consequence. Our Tents were immediately Pitched and the Cook soon roasted a couple of Fowls for us, and we sat down to a very good Dinner at 6 o’clock. Before I left the Govt. Stock Yard, where we first Halted and took our Lunch today, I was so much pleased with the Beauty of the Situation of that spot, that I was induced to name it “Cawdor” in honor of my dearest Elizabeth’s Family; this Place having no particular name or designation before. I ordered also that two addl. Rooms should be added to the Cottage at Cawdor for my own and Succeeding Governors’ accommodation whenever I may happen to visit this part of the Country.We
sat a very short time at Dinner had Tea and went early to Bed.
Tuesday 17th. October 1820.
We all got up by 5 o’clock this morning had the Baggage loaded and Breakfasted at 1/2 past 5 o’clock. The whole of the Baggage did not get
off, however till 7 o’clock. Wishing to see some parts of the Country where the carriage could not travel through I desired Joseph to follow the Baggage with it, whilst I mounted Sultan and rode with the gentlemen of my suite and Mr. David Johnston and Charker who accompanied me yesterday from Cawdor to the StockYard at Stone Quarry Creek. We rode over some very fine rich Pasture Grounds and crossed several gentle Hills admirably well adapted for sheep. I also examined a most eligible situation on the North Bank of this Creek for a Township whenever this desirable part of the Country is Settled.Mr. Johnston & Charker accompanied us for about 7 miles on the way to Bargo and on our getting
on the regular made Road by which the Carriage and Baggage went, they took their leave of us to return to Cawdor.
I entrusted Mr. Johnston with a Letter I had written last night to Mrs. M. with directions to forward it to her to Parramatta.We overtook the Carriage and Baggage soon after we had crossed the Bargo River, and were soon afterwards joined by Mr. Throsby as we Passed through Bargo. This is rather a barren Country, very few Parts of it being fit for Cultivation. After passing through Bargo, we entered a very long Barren Scrubby Brush of 9 miles in extent now named Kennedy’s Brush in honor of the Person of that name who first passed through it with the Natives. We then entered the Tract of Country called Mittagong, and at Half past 2 o’clock arrived at Kannabygle’s Plains, where we encamped and Halted for this day; this Place being 24 miles in a South westerly direction from Stone Quarry Creek which is rather too long a Journey for Heavy Loaded carts, some of which did not arrive on the Ground for Two Hours and a quarter after the two light carts had come to their Ground; some parts of the Road being very rough and stoney. The Ground we have encamped on today is a very pretty spot, on the edge of a rich extensive Meadow, with a chain of fine Fresh Water Ponds in front of our Tents, and excellent Forage for our cattle. We dined at six, Drank Tea at 8, and retired to Bed a little after 9 o’clock.
Governor Macquarie proceeded into southern New South Wales and returned to the Cowpasture weeks later.
Saturday 4. November 1820.
It rained a good deal in the course of the Night but was fair when we got up at 5 this morning. We Breakfasted a little before 6 o’clock, and the
last of the Bagage, [sic] and ourselves set out a qr. before 7. It came on pretty smart rain at that hour. Travelling through Stone Quarry Creek &
southern parts of the Cow Pastures, and Mr. McArthur’s Farms of upper & lower Camden, where we stopt to take some Refreshment and
having also examined the Govt. Flocks of Sheep, we arrived at Cawdor at a qr. after 4. p.m. where we found all our Baggage had arrived a few
minutes only before us; the Road they came being only 24 miles, while our Route hither being circuitous was at least 35 miles.
We viewed all the Govt. Cattle here & found them in very fine order; Dressed & dined at Six drank Tea at 8 and went to Bed at 9 o’clock.
We found Mr. David Johnston Supdt. of Govt. Stock, waiting for us at Cawdor.
Sunday 5. November 1820
This being a Resting & Halting Day, we slept a little longer and did not get up till 6 o’clock this morning and Breakfasted between 7 & 8 o’clock.
At 9, we set out on a long Ride to see the Govt. Herds stationed at Lowe’s Hill to the Northward of this Station distant about 7 miles. After
we had seen and examined the Cattle, we travelled for 2 or 3 miles more along the Left Bank of the River Nepean, opposite to Coppetty then
returned to the Hill hitherto called (unauthorizedly) Lowe’s Hill which commands a most noble extensive prospect and which I have now named (at the particular request of Commissr. Bigge) “BrownlowHill” after his friend Lord Brownlow; and from thence proceeded by the Range of Hills
leading to Mount Hunter for the purpose of seeing some of the Wild Cattle in their natural state. In the course of our Ride we fell in with 3 or 4 small Herds, some of which we hunted, and the Commissioner enjoyed the sport amazingly.
After a very pleasant Excursion, and riding about 25 miles, we returned to Camp at 1/2 past 2 o’clock. On my arrival I had the felicity of receiving a Packet of Letters dated yesterday from my beloved Elizabeth and Lachlan, conveying to me the joyful intelligence of their being both in good Health; but this gratifying news was greatly clouded by the accounts of an event of a most awful nature that might have at once deprived me of all that makes Life to me valuable namely the Govt. House at Parramatta having been struck by Lightning yesterday morning at Ten o’clock; but through the interposition of Divine Providence, no injury was done to any living Creature. How thankful I ought to be to God for this escape and I am devoutly so! The Commissr. having resolved on going to sleep at Mr. Oxley’s tonight, we dined today at 4 o’clock, to enable him to cross the River before dark. He accordingly left us with his own immediate Suite at 6 o’clock. Messrs. Jas. & Wm. McArthur dined with us they being at present residing at their Father’s Farm of Lower Camden. We had no sooner returned Home from our Ride this afternoon than it came on very heavy Rain. We drank Tea at 7 and retired to Rest at 9 then raining very heavy.
Monday 6. November
Got up at 5 this morning. It rained all Night but is now fair. Sent off the Baggage at 6 across the Nepean, and set out from Cawdor in half
an Hour afterwards. Called at Mr. Oxley’s where I Breakfasted with the Commissioner. Left that at 10. a.m. and arrived at Parramatta at 3 p.m.