Bathurst Region - Live, Visit, Invest, Study

Governor Macquarie

Bathurst in the time of Governor Macquarie - 1815-1821. 

When Lachlan Macquarie was appointed Governor of NSW in 1810 he took over a settlement with a rapidly growing population that occupied a narrow coastal strip where farming land was becoming scarce.

In May 1813 in an effort to open up more land for agriculture he granted permission for Gregory Blaxland and his party including William Lawson and William Wentworth to try to find a way over the Blue Mountains and see what was on the other side. Following the mountain ridges the party was able to make it through what seemed to be an impenetrable maze of valleys and high cliffs. Upon their return to Sydney they reported their success to Governor Macquarie who subsequently sent Assistant Surveyor George Evans out to confirm the discovery and venture even further into the interior.

As Evans proceeded he named rivers and other features he found after the Governor and his wife including Macquarie Plains, Campbell and Macquarie Rivers. His report of what he found encouraged Macquarie to settle this area so William Cox, a magistrate and landowner, was commissioned to build a road from Emu Ford to the Bathurst Plains. The governor was very particular about the specifications of the road.  It was to be at least 12 feet wide and up to 16 feet wherever possible. Timber was to be cleared from either side with culverts and bridges built where necessary. Cox with a party of convicts and soldiers started work on 18 July 1814 completing the construction by 14 January 1815 - a remarkable feat considering the nature of the terrain and the equipment available at the time.

Once the road was finished Governor Macquarie and his wife, Elizabeth undertook their first trip to Bathurst departing the Nepean River on 26 April 1815.  As they followed the road the governor admired and frequently named features that he passed, including Mount York, Cox's Pass, Vale of Clywdd and Cox's River.

On 4 May 1815 they reached the depot that had been set up by George Evans on the banks of the Macquarie River. It was here on 7 May that Governor Macquarie officially declared a town site to be named in honour of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Bathurst. This site on the left bank of the river became the official settlement.

Lachlan Macquarie resigned from his role as Governor in 1820 and travelled to Bathurst in December 1821 as part of a round of farewell tours before returning to England. His name lives on in Bathurst in the river, a street, a motel, an aged care facility and many other ways.

On 7 May 2015 Bathurst will celebrate 200 years since Governor Macquarie declared the townsite with many activities and events.