By 1813, the `gentlemen' explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth had successfully followed ridges to the west of the new Colony and so traversed the sandstone barrier of the Blue Mountains. At the western extremity, they stood on Mt York and admired fertile land below. Such was the desire for good farming land beyond Sydney's poor soils, that by 1815 Lt. William Cox and a handful of convicts had built a road along the explorer's route, down Mt York and on to the Government station of Bathurst on the westward flowing Macquarie River. Cox's spectacular achievement took place in only six months!
As westward traffic increased, Cox's remarkable but hastily built road was replaced in the 1830s by the superior Great Western Highway. It too was constructed by convict labour but under the supervision of the newly appointed Surveyor General, Major Sir Thomas Mitchell. Surveryor Mitchell decended the `Mountain' via an alternative route, the demanding Victoria Pass, who's 8:1 gradient has challenged drivers for almost 180 years! Much of today's modern Highway to Bathurst follows Mitchell's original line.
However, traces of Cox's original 1815 road still exist today though they are hard to find. Our tour follows these road remnants from Mt York to the Fish River in Oberon Shire and on to Bathurst. We return to Katoomba via scenic and steep sections of Mitchell's original Line which are now bypassed by today's modern traffic.