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Lifestyle : Blue Mountains Special Report 2013
1HERSA1 S007 THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2013 THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD7 BLUE MOUNTAINS & SURROUNDS Ride follows in the explorers' footsteps Epic journey: David Blaxland, a descendant of one of the explorers, will join the re-enactment. Picture: Darren Edwards The first crossing of the Blue Mountains will be commemorated in fitting style, writes Katrina Lobley. L ike all audacious plans, the impetus for re-creating Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth's 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains started with something simple. In 2007, Springwood local John O'Sullivan came across an original map of the explorers' crossing of the seemingly impenetrable barrier to the fertile plains of the west that would help sustain the fledgling Sydney colony. Unlike previous explorers (and convicts on the run) who had tried in vain to trace rivers westwards, only to be thwarted by rapids or sheer cliffs, the three men planned to fol- low a line of ridges running between two river valleys. O'Sullivan hatched his plan to form a re-enactment party to follow the explorers' footsteps in 2013 to mark the event's bicentenary. The re-enactment team includes the explorers' direct descendants David Blaxland, Stephen Wentworth and Rob Bettington (a Lawson descend- ant). Together with history devotees and a tag-team of other descend- ants, the party (which will include four horses and five dogs) will set off from Blaxland's South Creek farm near St Marys on May 11 -- 200 years to the day since the intrepid explorers did the same -- and spend 21 days slogging over the Blue Mountains to Mt Blaxland. The trek follows the same time- frame as the original expedition. "I know we splash the word 'authenticity' around but we would like to get as close to [doing it the way] our early explorers did," says O'Sullivan. He's hoping the party will be kitted out in gear similar to that worn by the explorers. "Everyone thinks they were in tails but when you look at the old drawings it looks like they were in khaki gear with riding boots," O'Sullivan says. The team is facing access issues around the Little Hartley area just beyond the mountains but other- wise "we will be staying off the high- wayasmuchaswecanandbeinthe side streets -- it's not exact but it's pretty close", says O'Sullivan, who's already walked across the Blue Mountains twice to "suss out the area and see where the campsites were". "It was very beneficial -- I know the lay of the land and where everything is and the traffic situation," he says. "It will be a rolling parade." Raising money for the trek has been another challenge. "We're still $80,000 short," says O'Sullivan, who had hoped for more government support. "But I think we owe it to [Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth]. We owe it to their memory because I don't think they got the recognition they deserved when they first did it." Following the explorers' trailblazing efforts, a road was commissioned that today has become the Great Western Highway. In 1815, Governor Macquarie travelled the Great Western Road, as it was known, and founded Bathurst as the colony's first major inland settlement. O'Sullivan says the explorers' feat is one of the greatest achievements in NSW and Australi- an history, adding ''I'd like to get that history back in schools". To that end, there are plans to make a documentary of the crossing that could be screened to school students. The re-enactment is one of the high-profile events of the Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary 2013-2015. A shorter re-enactment will take place in October as part of the Festival of Walking. A bicentenary ball will be held at Leura's Fairmont Resort on May 4; on May 25, the explorers' crossing by foot will be marked by a crossing by air -- the Blue Mountains' first-ever fly-over will be conducted by a squadron comprising the RAAF Roulettes, emergency services air- craft and vintage planes. "A renown haven of relaxation for lovers of gourmet. Escape to Lilianfels in winter for a timeless experience." Multi-Award Hatted Restaurant - Darleys located at Lilianfels Resort and Spa W www.lilianfels.com.au T 02 4780 1200 A Lilianfels Ave Katoomba
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