NB:  Continuation of this file post July 2010 = http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/WF-wedding-rock-hist.htm

 

 

Commenced May 2009:  Any contribution or discussion on this place called 'The Rock', or on the Kings Tableland more generally is most welcome:

Please send to the author at ~~ john.mail "@" ozemail.com.au

 

 

This is a Project Past small project 

 

 

 

On The History of One Rock

 

( A LOOKOUT ROCK AT LITTLE SWITZERLAND DRIVE )

 

Some thoughts concerning a sandstone rock known locally as 'THE ROCK'. 

 

 

 

( The no-name rock, wedding rock, tourist rock, little Switzerland )

 

" This Table Land is extremely beautiful and has very fine Picturesque grand scenery -- consisting of deep finely wooded Glens,

stupendous Rocks & Cliffs, with high distant Hills and Mountains."   (So said Governor Lachlan Macquarie, April 1815).

 

(The Governor's party may have stood somewhere near this lookout rock ?)

 

The westward view from Kings Tableland is across the Jamison Valley to the distant walls at Narrow Neck (a long salient 

extending more than 10 km south from Katoomba.  The remnant in the middle ground is Mt Solitary.  Chris Cunningham

believes that Henry Hacking in his 1794 attempt to cross the mountains may have been one of the first Europeans to

view the great bowl of the Jamison Valley.  (Photo:  Scrae Photographic Art, Wedding Photography, Katoomba)

 

 

HOW TO FIND THIS WELL-KNOWN  'SECRET' PLACE:  "Heading west up the mountain again, make sure you take the left turn at the Pot Shop onto Kings Tablelands Road. Then take a right turn a few kilometres further on along Hordern Road, followed by a left at the T-section. The road is dirt here, but start looking to find a park because you've arrived. You'll see a well-worn path onto the sandstone escarpment, before being captivated by some of the best views in the mountains. And the best thing? There are no signs to get here, so you'll never have to share it with 1000 other humans (which can't be said for the Three Sisters later on). I told you I'd give you some local knowledge. Soak up the views, they're quite inspiring" (by Pat Callinan in "The insider's guide to the Mountains", NRMA).

This rock seems to have no formal name.   It is sometimes referred to as the Wedding Rock, or by various other names including Sunset Rock and Evans Lookout.  As shown herein, 'Sunset Rock' and 'Evans Lookout' are misnomers.  An early tourist map/guide is thought to have misidentified this rock as Sunset Rock, this being the possible source of the misnaming of it as such (which misnomer still lives on).   The most frequently used local name for it has possibly been simply 'The Rock'.  In asking locals the name which is given to this lookout rock the reply is sometimes just "the rock".  Similarly, historian Brian Fox got a like response of "The Rock" when he enquired earlier there (Ref: Oral history Colin Mulligan local resident of Wentworth Falls December 2000 - pers. com. Brian Fox, 2009)".   Brian Fox, pers. com. 2009 also noted that the local Blue Mountains Gazette has articles mentioning the place on 9th April 1997, 7th May 1997 and 11th June 1997. Brian conveys that the only other name for this lookout location which he had come across was 'Deer Park Lookout'. That name had been suggested by Jat Singh who was then the Managing Director of the nearby (opposite side of Little Switzerland Drive) Wentworth Falls Deer Park. That name was suggested and verbally approval by Council (25th July 1983 - ref. Correspondence from Manager of the Deer Park to Blue Mountains City Council following inspection of lookout by Council's engineer and ranger, 25th July 1983). However the Deer Park is now no more, and there is no indication at all that anyone ever adopted such a name for the rock. With the closure of the Deer Park opposite, the name was no doubt quickly forgotten even by the few people who may have heard it."

As a prominent place and good lookout point, it seems possible some of the early explorers might have been in this vicinity after they reached Kings Tableland.

Blue Mountains regional map showing the western wall (called Kedumba Walls) of the Kings Tableland,

overlooking the Jamison Valley.

 

 

"PROJECT PAST" RE THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF A LOOKOUT ROCK

This webpage is part of the broader "PROJECT PAST", which looks at peoples' perceptions and ways of viewing, learning about, interperting and understanding the past.   [Project Past:  Project Past is "about various views of the past (the 'personal past' and the past of assorted places, etc.) - to give consideration to the ways and methods that people use to interpret and shape the past; and plan to know the past more fully.   This was somewhat inspired by an American 'Project Past' - the name and possibly the idea being borrowed from something which commenced in the USA as an initiative providing free web space for those interested in the PAST".   This same idea, including provision for shared webspace or other forms of collaboration is also of interest for Australia.   The commencement of this small study, to look at the history of just one rock, was done partially with the thought of further promoting the Project Past idea.

There's various possible ways, or types/aspects of history or the past, by which a lookout rock might be approached or used in the  context of 'Project Past'.

Unlike say a hand specimen rock, a lookout rock has a much bigger possible role.  It can have the further use or advantage of being a place we might look/think in many difference directions and ways.   For example:

- Far downwards (thoughts of the lower and older strata and times, inspired by looking down to within the valley,

- Shallow downwards (who built the concrete and stone dwelling in the cave beneath this lookout rock, and why),

- Shallow surficial (the form of the rock and any noteworthy markings on it),

- Inwards personal (lookout rocks may inspire all sorts of thoughts or refections and one famous case is of a man who grew up near this rock, Gordon Childe, became a word-famous archaeologist or prehistorian, retired, returned to the Blue Mountains ostensibly to begin a geological investigation of them and then went to his death from one of the lookout  [ likely a complex planned suicide ].   The inwards personal might also include the inwards personal past as there is evidence that some people have returned year-after-year, for whatever reasons, to this place:

 

If this rock could talk:  Dates engraved one-a-year from 1978 till 1994 (a 1975 date is near the start of this).

Inwards inorganic (lithology, and current directions of Triassic streams, cementation, diagenesis, any unloading and weathering effects),

Laterally (how does this place fit in laterally, i.e. correlate with, the other sandstone strata that form the cliffs of the Blue Mountains, for example:

Looking across the Grose Valley to Banks Wall, from Perrys Lookdown near Evans Lookout.   Blue Mountains, NSW.

 

Which of the three prominent tree lines (claystone or less massive sandstone/interbeds intervals) on Banks Wall

is the Wentworth Falls Claystone that underlies the 'Wedding Rock' unit?   Current thought is that the correlation

is to the first-down prominent trees line, the one with a big rock fall (white scar) at its right hand end.

 

 

 

INFORMATION SOURCES

 

The area which includes Little Switzerland Drive and Hordern Road was subject of a subdivision plan approved by the Blue Mountains City Council 15th April 1954.   The subdivision plan (DP25813) is titled 'Plan of parts of Portion 512 and Portion 513 Cherrywood Estate - Little Switzerland Subdivision".   Thus we know the name 'Little Switzerland' dates back at least as far as 1954.  The company owning this land was A. F. Gilford Pty Ltd.  The subdivision was surveyed by Henry Ramsay of Katoomba.

 

Some of the area, viz. Hordern Road, was owned by John Lebbeus Hordern (of the Anthony Hordern retail business), who had purchased land there in the early 1880s (Ref: Survey Plan C1066.1507 dated May 1882).

Little Switzerland Drive may have been named by the developer and at present one can only guess why - maybe after the 'German' or ?Swiss man thought to have lived in the 'cave' during WWII or maybe just because of the grand views being thought to resemble the grandeur in Switzerland(?).

All along Little Switzerland Drive, individual lots were surveyed at just over one acre in size, and 'The Rock' which is the subject of present consideration is in Lot 7. 

Mostly the information found to date about Kings Tableland comes just from local informants and few government or government-related  records on the Kings Tableland are known of apart from early explorer records and one report compiled by the Blue Mountains City Council.   This Council describes its LGA as "The Blue Mountains local government area covers 143,000 hectares of land in the Greater Sydney Region", which is a fantastic expansion of the idea of the 'Sydney region' from the days when Sydney was founded as a small penal settlement at Sydney Cove.  This expansion was spurred in 1813 when the Blaxland, Wentworth, Lawson, Burns (and three unkown convicts) party successfully crossed the Blue Mountains for the first time, opening up the route westwards to Bathurst.   The Council has an online GIS system at " VIEW INTERACTIVE MAPS ".  This maps the area as:

 

The lookout sandstone rock exposure called "The Rock" (Wedding/Tourist Rock) extends south over four subdivision

lots, ending in number 61.   Note the sandstone 'scarp' (outcrop of 'Wedding Rock unit' or maybe the unit 

below that) a little way back from the main cliff edge.

The accompanying information (for Lot 33; Lot 59 at commencement of the lookout rock, nominal street number 69, being similar) is:

""""""
spacer Info table spacer Code spacer Description spacer % of Lot spacer Approx Area m2 spacer
spacer PublicLand spacer BMCL00 spacer Council Community Land spacer 100.00 spacer 73053.30 spacer
spacer
spacer LEP Zoning Info: spacer
spacer
spacer LepZone LEP 1991 spacer RECEP spacer Recreation - Environmental Protection spacer 100.00 spacer 73053.30 spacer
spacer LEP Protected Areas Info: spacer
spacer
spacer LepArea spacer EA spacer PA - Escarpment Area spacer 100.00 spacer 73053.30 spacer
spacer LEP Heritage Special Use Info: spacer
spacer LepHCA spacer K007 spacer Jamison Valley spacer 100.00 spacer 73053.30 spacer
spacer
spacer Environmental Info: spacer
spacer Emp2002VegSch spacer 16 spacer 7 Blue Mountains Escarpment Complex spacer 100.00 spacer 73053.30 spacer

""""""

In  the Council's environmental mapping categories the area is within "Blue Mountains Escarpment Complex" (General / undifferentiated).

It is also in a "Heritage Conservation Area" (Special Use zone, LEP 2005) which is extensive around the 'escarpment complex' topography.   The closest "Character" study done is for Lot 27.

The opposite (eastern) side of Little Switzerland Road is currently zoned for domestic waste pickup on Mondays but there's probably very few, if any, people who permanently live there.

On the Council's own tourism web pages this place is not promoted, nor was it known about when enquired on at the Visitor Information Centre.

Wentworth Falls map currently downloadable from Council website does not show 

'The Rock' lookout at Little Switzerland Drive.

Council may be planning further downloadable maps to assist tourists plan their itineries but at the moment nothing very detailed is available.

Best topography obtainable for the moment.

The relevant Council report on the area is by their planning branch ("Report on Kings Tableland, Wentworth Falls) in 2006.   It is report File: C07886 of  33 pages).   The aims of this compilation, following Minute No. 517 of  21/03/06) included consideration of the following points:   preservation of environmental and cultural values in this unique area;  protection of the surrounding world heritage areas;  protection of nationally endangered and regionally significant Blue Mountains; swamps and the identification of adequate buffer areas;  protection of significant communities and species (both flora and fauna) and  protection of indigenous sites and values.   The report notes that the former Deer Park off Hordern Rd (entry 18 Horden Rd), was still environmentally degraded  from the impacts of grazing despite the Deer Park having being closed for a number of years (located at the corner of Hordern Rd and Little Switzerland Drive.   Little else in the vicinity of Little Switzerland Drive is mentioned, other than the very interesting (for this study) point that "The first known European association with Kings Tableland is the arrival of explorers Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson in May 1813, who set up camp it is believed near the present Hordern’s Rd (BMCC 1984, p11)".

That reference is to an earlier "Kings Tableland Environmental Study" by Council.  According to that study (BMCC 1984, p11), it would seem that Little Switzerland Drive was put in as part of a subdivision pattern established in the 1950s.    Adverse to continuing residential development of Kings Tableland would be the diminution of scenic values.   The report states "The scenic values of Kings Tableland are significant and cannot be underestimated. The scenic values include not only the views from the Tableland but the scenic value of the Tableland itself. On the western side of the Tableland, there are scenic views overlooking the Jamison and Kedumba Valleys, while the eastern side affords views across the lower mountains and the Cumberland Plains to Sydney. The views of the Tableland itself include on the western side the spectacular Kedumba Walls, which can be seen from Wentworth Falls, Leura and Katoomba, and is considered a significant part of the scenic attraction of the lookouts located in these key tourist centres. These scenic attributes are valued not only by local residents, but also visitors and tourists, as well as the local tourism industry which depends on them.  It has long been recognised that maintaining the views and scenic outlook from, and as well as to, the Southern Escarpment including Kings Tableland, is an important goal and has been a major concern of previous planning studies (BMCC 1989, p52 and BMCC 1984, p9)."   Apart from 'scenic values' the Council report does not consider anything geological but in one of the reports referenced in the study there might be some geological considered (i.e. within "Coffey Geoscience Pty Ltd 1999 Stage 1 and Stage 2 Preliminary Environmental Site Assessment, Former Queen Victoria Hospital Site Wentworth Falls Plan prepared for the New South Wales Department of Health").   Under heading of recreational activities the report mentions the including unauthorised building of bunds and bike jumps on Kings Tableland but does not mention the building in the cave under Wedding Rock.  

Apart from the Council there may be other information sources.   There is a Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Education Network which is said to be active in the Blue Mountains.  It promotes learning on such things as "environment, geography, geology, history and heritage, visual and creative arts, science and technology, heritage farming, indigenous heritage, impacts of tourism and small business studies... all with some fun added in to make the learning experience memorable".    Calling itself "BLUE MOUNTAINS W.H.E.N.", and putting out a large amount of information similar as the tourism outlets do, the actual 'W.H.E.N." has so far been impossible to track down, even though numerous organisations are said to be all "members of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Education Network"  (e.g. the Edge Cinema and Jenolan Caves).   It is also stated to work closely with TAFE.

Also being attempted to make contact with are a number of historical societies or individual historians.   At the time of writing it has not yet been possible to make contact with any of these to ask about 'The Rock' at Little Switzerland Drive.

 

EARLY EXPLORATION/DISCOVERY

 

The Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson party reached the Tableland around here on 22 May 1813.    They may not have been the first Europeans to reach as far west as Kings Tableland but they are the first who are positively known to have done so according to the records they made.  Blaxland was then aged 35, Wentworth 19, and Lawson 38.  Blaxland, who had previously journeyed up the Warragamba, had formulated the idea of following westwards the divide between it and the Grose River, and had recruited the other two.  In that way Blaxland had originated the expedition, and became the leader in a sense - although records indicate the expedition was carried out in the nature of a joint effort.  

 

This reconstruction of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth route 1813 has them at first (on 22 May) going SW, approximate

along where the Tableland Road runs today, towards the cliff line, and later (next day) returning northwards

in order to pass on west via Wentworth Falls.

 

On Saturday 22 May, the party mounted the Kings Tableland.  To the east they could see back towards Sydney.    But to the west they came directly to a great cliff blocking progress.  An attempt was made  to descend to collect mineral samples, but no apparent way down could be found.   They must have camped somewhere near "Little Switzerland"(?).   They next day they had do decide should they

turn south of north?   The turned north and at the end of 23 May camped at the reedy swamp at the head of Jamison Creek.   [Viz.  Blackland's diary in G. Mackaness (Ed.), 1956 "Fourteen Journeys over the Blue Mountains".] 

 

 

 

And earlier reconstruction of the Blaxland 1813 route failed to recognise any 'diversion' at Kedumba Walls (Walker, 1913).

 

The THE JOURNAL OF GREGORY BLAXLAND, 1813 is an eBook meant to incorporate the "JOURNAL OF A TOUR OF DISCOVERY ACROSS THE BLUE MOUNTAINS, NEW SOUTH WALES, IN THE YEAR 1813" written by George Blaxland.  The eBook was checked against a copy of the second edition of that book, which was published in 1870 by SYDNEY GIBBS, SHALLARD AND CO.   However, the book upon which this eBook is based actually contains no publishing history or author.  It is held by the State Library of NSW.  The printer was S. T. Leigh and Co. It is likely that the book was edited by Mr Frank Walker (1861-1948) to whom a number of the photos, and the "Route Map", are attributed.  The book was likely published in 1913, in conjunction with the centenary celebrations of the first crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth.   A Blue Mountains Centenary Celebrations Committee was formed in July 1912 by a group of local Blue Mountains and Sydney businessmen and prominent citizens. They surveyed surviving sites and relics of exploration, organised the erection of plaques and monuments, and prepared a day of official festivities attended by the NSW Governor and other dignitaries at Mount York on 28 May 1913.  The Centenary Committee also published a book compiled by the same Frank Walker, the "Official History of the First Crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813".

 

The eBook is based on the Frank Walker edited version.  This book places the area now thought to be a description of Kings Tableland as further west.  According to this book "On Saturday, the 22nd instant, they proceeded in the track marked the preceding day rather more than three miles, in a south-westerly direction, when they reached the summit of the third and highest ridge of the mountains southward of Mount Banks. From the bearing of Prospect Hill and Grose Head, they computed this spot to be eighteen miles in a straight line from the River Nepean, at the point at which they crossed it. On the top of this ridge they found about two thousand acres of land clear of trees, covered with loose stones and short coarse grass, such as grows on some of the commons in England".

 

This description is taken to be Kings Tableland.  Over this heath they proceeded for about a mile and a half, in a south-westerly direction.

 

""""""""""""

On Saturday, the 22nd instant, they proceeded in the track marked the preceding day rather more than three miles, in a south-westerly direction, when they reached the summit of the third and highest ridge of the mountains southward of Mount Banks. From the bearing of Prospect Hill and Grose Head, they computed this spot to be eighteen miles in a straight line from the River Nepean, at the point at which they crossed it. On the top of this ridge they found about two thousand acres of land clear of trees, covered with loose stones and short coarse grass, such as grows on some of the commons in England. Over this heath they proceeded for about a mile and a half, in a south-westerly direction, and encamped by the side of a fine stream of water, with just wood enough on the banks to serve for firewood. From the summit they had a fine view of all the settlements and country eastward, and of a great extent of country to the westward and south-west. But their progress in both the latter directions was stopped by an impassable barrier of rock, which appeared to divide the interior from the coast as with a stone wall, rising perpendicularly out of the side of the mountain.

In the afternoon they left their little camp in the charge of three of the men, and made an attempt to descend the precipice by following some of the streams of water, or by getting down at some of the projecting points where the rocks had fallen in; but they were baffled in every instance. In some places the perpendicular height of the rocks above the earth below could not be less than four hundred feet. Could they have accomplished a descent, they hoped to procure mineral specimens which might throw light on the geological character of the country, as the strata appeared to be exposed for many hundred feet, from the top of the rock to the beds of the several rivers beneath. The broken rocky country on the western side of the cow pasture has the appearance of having acquired its present form from an earthquake, or some other dreadful convulsion of nature, at a much later period than the mountains northward, of which Mount Banks forms the southern extremity. The aspect of the country which lay beneath them much disappointed the travellers: it appeared to consist of sand and small scrubby brushwood, intersected with broken rocky mountains, with streams of water running between them to the eastward, towards one point, where they probably form the Western River, and enter the mountains.

They now flattered themselves that they had surmounted half the difficulties of their undertaking, expecting to find a passage down the mountain more to the northward.

""""""""""""

Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson images from other times in their lives  (as sourced by Walker ca. 1913)

Gregory Blaxland Esq, by an unknown artist (pencil drawing)
 William Charles Wentworth, 1872, by James Anderson (oil)
 

William Lawson, c.1840, Miniature portrait

 

 

A young Blaxland, artist unknown  (State Library of New South Wales. GPO 1 - 14069)

Blaxland was leader of the expedition in the entrepreneurial sense although none of the three in their joint effort

assumed any position of command.  The motivation of the crossing was commercial, mainly desire for more

grazing land.   Governor Macquarie, however, would not allow Blaxland any land in the interior for his stock.

Lawson on the other hand became Commandant of the new settlement of Bathurst.  Wentworth rose

to political fame.  Blaxland grew insolvent and, on 1 January 1853, committed suicide.


All three explorers kept journals, each in their own style.  Blaxland may have published his well known account in 1823 (?original now seen, only an edited copy).   Wentworth apparently wrote enthusiastically about the landscape, resources and future benefits to the colony (not yet seen) but, for those seeking to retrace the explorers' trail, Lawson's journal is regarded as the most important.

   Trying to figure out exactly where they walked.   The efforts or notes of Mr Bladen sometime in the 1890s.  This was

probably plotted from information supplied by Frank Murcott Bladen, editor of Historical Records of New South

Wales.  Preserved in the National Library of Australia. (map nla.map-rm1762 )

 

The State Library refers to a James Burns/Byrnes as the party's "local guide" - "The expedition also included a local guide, three convict servants, four pack horses and five dogs. They left Blaxland's South Creek farm (near St Marys) at 4pm on Tuesday 11 May, 1813, heading for their first night's camp in the foothills of the mountains".

 

From Lawson's diary at the State Library of NSW:

 

"""""""""

Wednesday Morning 19th May

At half past Nine oclock. Struck our Tents and proceeded WSW1/8 W½ w by S¼ here is a very narrow pass not more than fifteen yards over, with Steep Rocky gully on each side- ascended a High Mountain W¼ NW¼. Mount Banks bore NW. Groce Head NE. Prospect Hill E by S. Seven hills ENE Windsor- NE by E from this Mountain we had a beautiful View of the whole of the Settlement here we found a Large heap of Stones piled up. No doubt it was done by Doctor Bass some years ago as he went in this Direction- and did pile a heap of Stones at the end of his journey, the mountains here are very Rockey. Encamped at the Head of a small lygoon covered with Rushes. This we found very acceptable for our Horses we had something else to give them- here we got plenty of good water, went a head to Examine our Road for next day.

Thursday Morning 20th May
At Nine oclock struck our Tents and proceeded in the Road we had cut the day previous, course SE by S½S¼ SSW3/4 W by S1/8 NW1/8 W1/8 NW½ SW¼ WNW1/8 NW by N¼ NNW½ WNW½ Encamped at Twelve oclock at the Head of a small Lygoon about 3 Acres covered with Rushes and well supplied with fine water- our Horses just existed on this sort of food,- proceeded on to Examine and mark our Road for to morrow- scarce any animals and very few birds to be seen- The Mountains here are very Sandy and Rocky covered with thick brush returned to our camp at five oclock

Friday Morning 21st May

 Struck our Tents and proceeded in the Road we had marked though a thick brush the preceeding day NW by N¼ W by NW¼ WNW¼ SW½ W¼ NW by W½ WSW¼ miles- Encamped at Twelve oclock at the Head of a Swamp about 5 Acres covered with Rushes with great plenty of fine water Mr. Blaxland Wentworth and self proceeded a head to examine and mark our Road through a thick brush returned to our Camp at five oclock

 

 

Saturday 22nd May

Struck our Tents at Nine oclock and proceeded in the Road we had marked the preceeding day WSW 1 mile SW1/8 NW by W1/8 W1/8 W by N1/8 SW by W1/8 NW by W1/8 SW by W½ WSW1/8 NW1/16 W¼ SW¼ W1/16 SW by W1/8 W¼

Reached the summit of the Highest land we have yet been on the crown of this Mountain is about 2000 Acres of a heath much the appearance of some of our Heaths in England, Steared S. 1 Mile SW½ over part of it, and Encamped by a fine stream of water. Here we had a fine view of all our Settlements, our progress was here stoped by an impassable Clift from going either South or West - Mr. Blaxland Wentworth and Self left our Camp with a determination to get down some parts of this broken land. But found it impracticable in some places 500 feet perpendicular here we saw the course of the Western River and that broken Country at Natai the back of the Cow pasters. No doubt this is the Remnant of some dreadful Earthquake- Prospect Hill bore E. Groce Head NE Hat Hill S.E. by S. the appearance of Hat Hill from this Situation has Two Heads

Sunday Morning 23rd May at Nine oclock Struck our Tents and proceeded NE by N 1Mile NNW¼ N1/8 NW¼ W¼ WNW½ NNW¼ N¼ NNW¼ - Encamped at one oclock at the Head of a Large Lygoon with a fine Run of water went on to Examine and mark our Road for for next day

"""""""""  (Transcript: Journal of An Expedition Across the Blue Mountains, 11 May - 6 June 1813, by William Lawson )

 

Well after the 1813 explorers, Charles Darwin saw the Jamison Valley in 1836 as he journeyed across the Blue Mountains.   Around midday, Darwin's party reached Weatherboard (later named Wentworth Falls) and they paused at the inn.  He learned that at about a mile and a half south there was a view exceedingly well worth visiting.  So he followed down a little valley and its tiny rill of water (Jamison Creek) and duly came upon "an immense gulf unexpectedly".  The inn was near the present Wentworth Falls railway station and the path alongside Jamison Creek down to the falls is today called Darwin's Walk.  On his return visit out west of Sydney, Darwin again stopped at the Weatherboard Inn and slept there.   Before dusk he took another walk back to what he called the "amphitheatre".    Darwin recorded the "immense gulf" he beheld from the top of Wentworth Falls thus:  "Following down a little valley and its tiny rill of water, an immense gulf unexpectedly opens through the trees which border the pathway, at the depth of perhaps 1500 feet. Walking on a few yards, one stands on the brink of a vast precipice, and below one sees a grand bay or gulf, for I know not what other name to give it, thickly covered with forest. The point of view is situated as if at the head of a bay, the line of cliff diverging on each side, and showing headland behind headland, as on a bold sea-coast. These cliffs are composed of horizontal strata of whitish sandstone; and are so absolutely vertical, that in many places a person standing on the edge and throwing down a stone, can see it strike the trees in the abyss below. So unbroken is the line of cliff that in order to reach the foot of the waterfall formed by this little stream, it is said to be necessary to go sixteen miles round. About five miles distant in front another line of cliff extends, which thus appears completely to encircle the valley; and hence the name of bay is justified, as applied to this grand amphitheatrical depression. If we imagine a winding harbour, with its deep water surrounded by bold cliff-like shores, to be laid dry, and a forest to spring up on its sandy bottom, we should then have the appearance and structure here exhibited. This kind of view was to me quite novel, and extremely magnificent."

 

After the 1813 crossing, a road across the Blue Mountains was built by a party under Mr Cox and upon its completion the Governor and his Lady, along with others of the Colonial administration ventured along it on a tour of inspection.

 

 

Extracts from Governor Macquarie's journal of his journey over the Blue Mountains in April, 1815:

List of the names of the Gentlemen who accompanied Govr. & Mrs. Macquarie on the Tour to the New discovered Country in April 1815: viz:

1 Jno. Thos. Campbell Esqr. Secry.
2 Capt. H. C. Antill Major of Brigade.
3 Lieut. Jno. Watts Aid de Camp.
4 Wm. Redfern Esqr. Asst. Surgeon.
5 Wm. Cox Esqr. J. P. &c. &c.
6 Sir Jno. Jamison Knt.
7 Jno. Oxley Esqr. Surveyor Genl.
8 Mr. Jas. Meehan Dy. Surveyor Genl.
9 Mr. Geo. W. Evans Dy. Surveyor.
10 Mr. J. W. Lewin Painter & Naturalist.

Tuesday 25. April 1815

At 8 o'clock this morning Mrs. Macquarie and myself, after having taken leave of our beloved infant, set out in the carriage on our long projected journey to visit the new discovered country to the westward of the Blue Mountains ......

<snip>

Thursday 27. April
Sent off our heavy Baggage at 1/2 past 7 o'clock this morning from Spring-Wood. Breakfasted ourselves at 1/2 past 8, and set out in the Carriage at 1/2 past Ten on our Journey. -- For the first few miles the Road was through an open Forest and very good -- but we soon came to a very hilly broken Country and rough stony Road, especially on reaching "The Bluff Bridge", it being very bad and hilly from thence for Five Miles, with heavy pulls up steep Hills for the Cattle and Carriages, which rendered it a severe and fatiguing day's work for them. In the course of this day's Ride we had very fine and extensive views of the adjacent low Country towards Windsor, Parramatta, and Prospect, especially from Kealy's Pile, which I named "Kealy's Repulse", and from a very beautiful Table Land, which last I have named "The King's Table-Land". -- This Table Land is extremely beautiful and has very fine Picturesque grand scenery -- consisting of deep finely wooded Glens, stupendous Rocks & Cliffs, with high distant Hills and Mountains. From the King's Table Land, we could distinctly see Windsor and some of the Reaches of the River Hawkesbury. -- We did not arrive at the 2d Depôt till 5 o'clock, distant from our last stage 16 miles, and here we halted for the Night. -- Owing to the badness of the Road the last of our Baggage did not get up with us till 8 o'clock -- which obliged us to delay dining till then.

The 2d Depôt is situated in a very pretty looking Valley very well watered -- but without much good Feed for Cattle.

[ According to Sydney Morning Herald travel guide "Traveller", in 1815 Governor Macquarie camped at The Weatherboard and bestowed upon the area some of its present European names, including Kings Tableland, the Jamieson Valley (named after Macquarie's friend who lived on the banks of the Nepean River to the east), Pitt's Amphitheatre (after the British prime minister) and Prince Regent's Glen (after the Prince of Wales who became George IV in 1820).  He also gave Wentworth Falls the name 'Campbell's Cataract' after his secretary.   ~~ However, the exact source of this has not yet been located, and is not cited by the SMH. ]

Friday 28. April 
Got up early and took a walk forward for a mile to look at the Road. -- Sent off the Baggage between 7 and 8 o'clock. -- Breakfasted at 8 o'clock, and set out in the Carriage at 9 o'clock. -- This day's Stage was over a hilly high Country, but the Road was very good and easy for the Cattle and Carriages. -- On the left we passed a very extensive deep romantic Glen, full of very Picturesque and wild Scenery. -- It commenced at the 33d Mile Tree and continues all the way from thence to the 41 Mile Tree, where we halted for this day, being 13 miles from our last Halting Place at the 2d Depôt . --Here we found tolerable good Feed for our Cattle and plenty of fresh water -- it being an open Forest. -- We arrived at our Ground at the 41 Mile Tree at 3 o'clock. Dined at 5, Drank Tea at 7, and went to Bed between 9 and 10 o'clock. -- I named the Grand and Picturesque extensive Glen we passed this day on our left "The Regent's Glen" in Honor of H.R. Highness the Prince Regent ---

 

 

 

COMMEMORATING 200 YEARS SINCE THE BLAXLAND PARTY'S CROSSING

Blue Wave project:  About 200 years ago, and on the same day this was written, on 10 May, that the party now called

the 'Three Explorers' set out from Emu Plains.   On 10 May 2009 a 21 day re-trace walk set out from the Nepean.

Each year now this will be done leading up to the actual bi-centennary celebration.     

On Sunday 10 may 2009, Mr John O'Sullivan set out from the Nepean River on the original walk over the Blue Mountains trekked by explorers Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson in 1813.  Named the "Blue Wave walk" it was the inaugural event in the lead-up to the bicentenary in 2013 of the original walk.  Mr O’Sullivan said (Penrith Press, 9 May) that he was fulfilling a promise he made to Winmalee teen Chad Graham, who became a quadraplegic a few years ago.   Mr O'Sullivan says he told Chad ‘If you promise not to give up but keep going, I will walk over the mountains’.   Mr O’Sullivan is raising funds to build the Miles Graham Respite Retreat in the mid-mountains for people with disabilities and their families.  Mr O’Sullivan said the event would “reinvent our history” and celebrate an event which had been largely neglected.

The Blue Wave project is supported by two direct descendants of Gregory Blaxland.   One is these, David Blaxland, was once asked is school if he was descended from the great colonial explorer Gregory Blaxland.   He didn’t know.   But today he is an expert on anything about his great-great-great-grandfather and that famous crossing of the Blue Mountains.    His forefather Gregory arrived in the colony on the William Pitt in 1806.  Apart from the mountain crossing, Blaxland won medals for fine wine production and also helped put Governor William Bligh under arrest during the 1808 rebellion.  He also helped establish the Royal Agricultural Society.  [Penrith Press, 11 May 2009].

The 1813 exporers' party which reached the walls (now called Kedumba Walls) hereabouts consisted actually of seven men.   Near where the expedition set off from, near St Marys by the banks of South Creek, stands a seldom noticed obelisk.  It was erected by the citizens of St Marys in 1938 to commemorate the start of the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by colonists in 1813.  The obelisk bears a plaque which states:  "Here on the South Creek was Gregory Blaxland's farm.  From it, on May 11 1813 he set out with William Lawson and W C Wentworth attended by four servants with packhorses and five dogs on the first expedition that crossed the Blue Mountains".   Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth are very well known for this exploit.  Their names used to be instilled in every Australian schoolchild.  Each one of them has a Blue Mountains town named after them.  There were four others in the party, three convicts and one a free man.  Only the name of the latter, the free man James Burns, has been recorded.  The others like this rock remain nameless.

It is envisaged to on 22 May 2013 (two hundredth anniversary) name this rock and erect a sign saying inter alia that somewhere near this this spot there arrived and camped 200 years ago the explorers Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson, William Charles Wentworth, James Burns and three others unrecorded (convicts), since they all partook in the work of the journey.   This symbolises the many men and women in Australia's early history who have passed away unnoticed.   There are normally no plaques or obelisks for the ordinary people.  As for the five dogs, we will never know their names either.

This gives, from present time of writing (May 2009),  three years to think up or decide on the best and most appropriate name for the rock - and propose it to the Geographic Names Board (if naming the rock is really thought a good idea --- should it instead be left wild and free and unnamed, or even named No-name Rock?).

Although the Council File: C07886 says rather little about Little Switzerland Drive, it does clarify land ownership of the lookout rock, thus: "There are a number of informal scenic lookout points at the northern end of Tableland Rd which are accessed by tourists and locals, and in some cases commercial operators. These include a lookout on Little Switzerland Drive (which is on Council Community Land) ...".  The background of Council acquisition of of lots along Little Switzerland Drive to become Council Community Land is not at present known.   Although Council owned, as  part of a "Public Lands Rationalisation Project" (BMCC 2002) involving  the Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Dept of Lands, it was recommended that certain Council Community Land along the western edge of Little Switzerland Drive (the portions closest to the escarpment) be transferred to the Dept of Environment and Conservation for inclusion in Blue Mountains National Park    Any progress on that point is not know of.  Council noted that Little Switzerland Drive was "heavily used by residents and tourists accessing by car and bus the informal scenic lookout on the south-west side of the road".   It also noted the activity by commercial tour operators.

In File: C07886, of general note to the western edge of the Tableland it notes that "frequent high winds" are experienced and that high winds have also contributed to erosion issues.    Thus the erosion mentioned herein immediately under the rock discussed are attributed to 'wind plus water'.   Kings Tableland is recognised as traditional land of the Gundungurra people, and the Council report mentions that the Gundungurra Native Title Claim (over National Parks, vacant Crown land, State Forest and Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas south of the Great Western Highway), which is currently unresolved by the Federal Court, extends over Kings Tableland.   The report noted that "given the known Aboriginal cultural importance of Kings Tableland, the Council should consider a more detailed Aboriginal heritage study of the area ...".    It has not been enquired what the outcome of that might have been.   

 

LOCAL ENVIRONMENT AND THE ROCK

Diagrammatic sketch.   Wentworth Falls is the falls of Jamison Creek over the point where two

easterly-trending and northerly-trending cliff lines meet.   A popular cliff ledge walk, the

National Pass, runs along the easterly trending cliff.   The erosion of the falls forms

a semi-circular cross-section 'embayment' that has a step at the junction of the

two main sandstone units.  Thus two separated vertical drops  comprise the

falls.   The walk down along Jamison Creek from near Wentworth Falls station

has been named Darwin Walk to commemorate Darwin's visit here.

 

 

 

Prominent rock exposures - Aerial interpretation (A and B have been visited, C and D not yet visited).

A = "Wedding Rock"; B = Kings Table rock outcrop (Aboriginal habitation traces); C= rock

outcrops near the communication towers, assumed to be same unit as B; D = ditto, 

the track seeming to go only to a vantage point lookout.   D is possibly the

"Sunset Rock lookout" whose whereabouts is currently unknown.  

Note the curious cuspate drainage lows to the east of D.

 

 

A tourist at the lookout rock.    (Photo:  "Near the edge", taken by tourists

Nick & Margaret Houston on their Sydney 11-18th March 2009 trip.  

 

Tourist gingerly looks over the edge.

Site misnamed as "Kings Table" by Takuya3110.   (Photo:  Takuya3110)

 

 

And a bride does likewise.

 

The cuspate point , near which (or right at) many are photographed.

 

Numerous photos are taken of daring people standing RIGHT on the tip of this cusp.   They are often captioned "on the edge", or similar.  Many upon seeing these photos think they surely must be trick photography or something - but they aren't, and it's pretty much all for real (although there is a further offset slope directly below which should break a fall, before the really big drop)..    Typical comments about standing on the edge, at this cusp point, run similar as in the below sample:

 

- You are kidding…......amazing, I am in awe

- she’s not really there….is she…...?

- Im thinking what happened with this photo..seems just real ?!

- Brave or Mad ?!

- makes me feel funny
- is she really standing on the edge here? she is either so brave or out of her mind.

- It makes me feel dizzy looking at that!

- this is crazy stuff

- I could never stand there!

- it certainly is on the Edge

- I’m scared of heights so I need to stop looking at this before I get vertigo..

- Hope she had good balance…..

- looking at it makes me feel amazed and uncomfortable at the same time…

 

 

Well it no doubt is a very dangerous place, although not quite as dramatically dangerous as it may look.  This is because, as other views herein of the 'wedding rock sandstone unit' on this page will demonstrate, this is a ledge above the Wentworth Falls Claystone that is weathered back a little from the main sheer cliff face drop.   Nonetheless there are immediate falls of 10-35m and if someone falling would then continue over the main cliff face or be 'saved' by vegetation is a moot point, since such initial falling itself would have immediate dire consequences. 

 

This popular rock vantage point is now frequently visited by tourist buses, and is also very popular for marriage party photos.   The relatively resistant capping layer, that forms the rock platform convenient as a tourist lookout, in this vertical section close-up appears to be rather 'masive' sandstone.  it is perhaps mildly cross-bedded but it also contains much iron oxide banding, and that might mimic cross-bedding at times.   Cross-bedding is seen in the more weathered strata in the underlying cave.

 

 

 

Another spot along the Kedumba Walls showing overhang of carapace-like style of weathering.  Now you would

have to be silly to stand at the tip of this (if you knew what was underneath - nothing).

 

 

The pebble band immediately below the massive sandstone bed at Wedding Rock.

Some of the pebbles are quite large (car key and coins as scale)

 

Near the northern end of the clear area at 'The Rock', the pebbly layer (photo above) is present just below the thin bed of sandstone that forms the exposure, and within that sandstone some weathered-out forms of ferruginous banding sets in the sandstone are seen.  Example of this banding is shown below:

 

 

The ironstone bandings, sometimes forming closed ellipsoids.

 

This area known as the "Kings Tableland" was so named by Governor Macquarie during his inspection tour along the then newly constructed Cox's Road over the Blue Mountains, in April 1815.  Macquarie named the area "The King's Table-Land" after the then reigning English monarch King George III (1738-1820).

George III in his coronation robes, 1762; and a George III penny of 1797.

(This penny was struck at Matthew Boulton's Soho Mint in Birmingham,  England.)
.

George III was the King who lost the American colonies after revolution broke out (American Revolution, 1776), which then necessitated England's outcasts having to be transported to a new penal colony, at Sydney, which ended up founding a new nation.  George was deeply devout and spent hours in prayer.  In the later half of his life, George III suffered from recurrent and, eventually, permanent mental illness.  His intermitted states of distress and crying had began at the death of his youngest and favourite daughter, Amelia.  I don't know if Macquarie knew of the insanity but he probably did (the King was permanently insane, and placed in seclusion, by 1811).  In any case it might have been considered an impolite, or even disloyal, thing to mention.   

The highest point of Kings Tableland was named, presumably later on, as the Kings Table (but who named that ?).

 

LESS FAMOUS VISITORS (And what they call or think of The Rock)

 

View from above.   A tourist bus party at Wedding Rock.  Main vertical face is a NNE joint.   North is to the left.    (Google Earth)

Near the left (northern) end of the straight joint face a cuspate point is seen.  This is the point seen in the below photos.

 

The current (2009) view of the rock 'platform' seen in Google Earth, as above, shows a small tourist bus of about 20 person capacity visiting.  This is commonplace.   During the time the writer was there (early 2009) three or four tour parties came and left, staying no more than 10 mins, as well as a small party of walkers who had just crossed the Jamison Valley from Katoomba via Mt Solitary and Keduma Pass.  The latter came on to the rock to gaze over the valley they had just crossed, and to discuss other possible walks.

 

Occasionally some of the (commonly-international) visitors to the Mountains' many tourist features do wonder about the geology, for example:

"The cliffs in the area are all almost completely vertical.  I've never seen so many sheer cliffs before.  I wondered if they were formed by glaciers or simple erosion from wind and water.  I didn't see any evidence of glaciers, as the valleys were V-shaped, not U-shaped. We paused at one point to examine small rocks embedded in a narrow band in the rocks above us. It looked like it used to be a sea floor at one point in time before being covered with more layers of dirt. Total speculation on our part, of course. It would be nice to find a book describing the geological history of the Blue Mountains ...... We also saw graffiti everywhere on the hike. People love to leave their mark on nature. On rocks, on trees. We hiked on through the wind, making it back to the parking lot in good time." - Written by Kevin Gong. Kevin and Jean Gong when visiting the Blue Mountains in October 2000.   With experience spanning over 1400 miles, on more than 200 hikes, this couple had wide experience of the world before seeing the Blue Mountains,  just as Charles Darwin did in 1836, but still commented "I've never seen so many sheer cliffs before".    They did know Darwin had been there before at Wentworth Falls:  We crossed the grass next to the tennis court and came to a large sign denoting Darwin's Walk.   It's named as such because Charles Darwin himself did this walk back in 1836".    [From:   http://kevingong.com  -  Kevin Gong is a Senior software engineer with Danger Research at Palo Alto, California.]

This rock has been confused with two other places by tourists and some locals - Sunset Rock (a little distance to the south), and Evans Lookout (on another valley system entirely).    No local would confuse it with Evans Lookout but some locals do refer to it as 'Sunset Rock'.   It has also been misidentified as 'Kings Table' which is further to the east.

How these confusions may have come about is not yet fully apparent.

The historical name of this rock remains unknown, if it ever had one?   No formal name is known for it.  The locals mostly refer to it only as "The Rock" or "The Lookout".    One said that it was also known as the "Sunset Rock"; however it was later learned that Sunset Rock is a lookout considerably further south, near the Hospital.    The Sunset Rock Lookout near the site of the later Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital was a popular viewing and rest stop from the early 1890's onwards for travellers up via Kedumba Pass from the Burragorang Valley area (now Lake Burragorang) to the towns of the upper Blue Mountains.  It was apparently a good place to camp and view a sunset over the Kedumba and Jamison Valleys, before pressing on to Wentworth Falls the following morning.

Sunset photographed from "Sunset Rock" (presumably the 'real' one?) at Kings Tableland by Andrew Bosman.

Sunset Rock is confirmed on the Jamison 8930-2N map, third edition, as being the lookout near the Hospital.   However, substantiating the local information that the Little Switzerland Road lookout is called 'Sunset Rock' is a mention by this:  "Sunshine and I are still chasing sunsets around the mountains, this time it was Sunset Rock. After an pretty interesting walk out to Kedumba Pass hunting for old style climbs, we pulled into Sunset Rock off the Kings TableLand Rd, near the space observatory.  Sunset Rock is an amazing rock platform that juts its overhang out into the Jamison Valley, over looking the Valley of the Waters and Wentworth Falls. Its an impressive Westerly view of the Mountains and certainly the place to be on good sunset like today."   This was posted in in early 2005 by Leigh Blackall and the following photo accompanied it:

Sunshine at sunset, at 'Sunset Rock' (actually the rock known as The Rock or Wedding Rock in Little Switzerland Drive)

 

"Initials and date etching is very popular and historically interesting"   Source: Rock climbing trip by Sunshine and Leigh

(Photo:  Leigh Blackall)

The wording "we pulled into Sunset Rock off the Kings TableLand Rd, near the space observatory" is indicative of the Little Switzerland Drive rock.   The "space observatory" referred to would be Roger North's the Kings Tableland observatory at 55 Horden Place (since closed - and attempts to contact Roger North or Sybil Barber were unsuccessful).    Sunshine was written to, to ask if it might be remembered how they came to know this rock as "Sunset Rock".

A 2006 description which also misidentifies this place as "Sunset Rock" is:  "steve a cracker of a spot is sunset rock lookout at wenthwoth falls. turn off the highway at the top of hill where the pot place and garden center are.  turn left on to kings tableland rd,  i think its the 3rd or 4th street on the right,  go past the old deer farm to the t(urn0 in the rd,  turn left on to the dirt,  go 100m to car park then 15m to the edge on the big rock.  there is a cracker of a bowl here ...." [Discussion by hobbyists about good places to fly electric model planes from].

And another "Sunset Rock".  This one is near Mt Victoria, described as: "Sunset Rock Lookout is accessible via the

Grand View Road. The lookout itself is located at the end of Beaufort Avenue. However, signs on the corner say to

leave your car as there is no space to turn at the end of the avenue. The lookout provides views 

over Wilsons Gully and has no barrier fences ".   (Photo: thatgirl)


As below, some international tourists have also referred to The Rock as "Evans Lookout":

 

Photos by ANSH:  March 2009 "Bye bye Evans lookout", pressing on from what they thought to be Evans Lookout.   They

had boarded their tour bus from YHA at Central (Sydney), and  proceeded to:  Olympic Park, Nepean River for morning

tea, Euroka clearing for kangaroos, and next to this rock ("Evans Lookout") where the 'awesome view'

was found reminescent of "B'lores KK hills"...."couldn't see the complete

depth .. VERY scary" ... "hope this rock is stable".     

 

(Photo:  Celebrating completion of first three months of our beautiful married life )

 

The recording of this rock as 'Evans Lookout' (which it is not; the real Evans Lookout being over the Grose Valley) is not simply a one-off mistake by anyone, as it occurs repeatedly.   Hence, it is believed, some tour operator/s must have been leading tourists to think this is Evans Lookout.

 

HISTORY SHALLOW - Shallow surficial (the form of the rock and any noteworthy markings on it),

SMALL ROCKPOOLS

 

 

Circular potholes near the edge are not surrounded by short grooves but those further back from the edge are, as shown below.

 

 

 

Numerous narrow grinding grooves and a red hand print around a roughly circular hole.

What is the story of these grooves; they have a curious aspect to them.

 

 

 

A concentric arrangement of undoubted Aboriginal grinding grooves.  At a rock pool in

Hawkesbury Sandstone, on Fagans Ridge, Fiddletown.  (Photo J. Edgar) 

 

 

WIND / WATER  EROSION -  AN UNDERLYING CAVE

 

The rock is truncated and undermined by the effects of erosion caused by water, wind.and gravity.

 

 

View of cliff face under the more massive bed, showing irregular erosion, presumably by both wind and water.

 

 

Around southern face of the above photo the rock is undermined by this large 'cave' which someone has

formerly commenced to enclose with a stone and concrete wall.

 

 

Showing from below where the roof of the cave not very thick (at upper left)

 

One story current about the construction within the cave is that it was done by 

an 'enemy alien' (German) man fearing internment, in WWII year.

 

 

"I too can call myself a brave gal :P" "Aa leke chaloo tujhe aise gagan ke tale..jaha n gum bhi na ho bas pyaar hi

pyaar pale :P"  (From:  Celebrating completion of first three months of our beautiful married life)

 

The cave is under the southern tip of the flat rock exposure, perhaps at this point or a little further south. 

 

It was learned in May 2009, the from Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, that the cave had been used by the Sydney University Hiking Club in the 1940/50's for overnight camping, with a view.   Hence it was thought that they might have done the construction work in it, or else knew who did, and enquiry was made to the current Sydney University Bushwalking Club.   A little later however, it was also found from BMHC that further was known about this cave.   Although it was indeed (later) used by members of hiking clubs they were likely not the builders.  According to the book "Blue Mountains Geographical Directory" by Brian Fox, it is known as Little Switzerland cave.  This source states "Named after a German who used this cave as his home.  May have been thought of as Swiss hence the name of the cave and road.  Since this man was [thought of as] an enemy alien he waited out the second world war in this cave instead of an internment camp.  Also from Brian Fox's book:  "Known by this name in the 1950's as told by Lola Haydon (nearby resident) to her daughter Cathy McBey.  Oral history from Cathy 16th July 1999.  Cave contains what was a well constructed wall and fire place. Ref: The Katoomba and Leura Story by Audrey Armitage, 1998, p83-4. The Blue Mountains Gazette 7th May 1997".'

 

 

 

GEOLOGICAL HISTORY

 

The first known of geological thoughts in this vicinity date from 1813 when the Blaxland party thought to try and get down to the bottom of the valley from off Kedumba Walls, to take mineral samples.   They were not successful on that occasion in finding any way down.

 

Darwin visited the Wentworth Falls in 1836.  As he wrote, the view was quite novel to him.

 

Darwin could not conceive that streams like those seen today could carve out such immense voids.   This may say something on the timing of the development of ideas on the antiquity of the earth.   Others have invoked bigger bodies of water, like Noah's flood, to excavate the valleys but Darwin instead wondered if they might be some sort of subsidence(?).   He wrote:

 

"The first impression on seeing the correspondence of the horizontal strata on each side of these valleys and great amphitheatrical depressions, is that they have been hollowed out, like other valleys, by the action of water; but when one reflects on the enormous amount of stone which on this view must have been removed through mere gorges or chasms, one is led to ask whether these spaces may not have subsided. But considering the form of the irregularly branching valleys, and of the narrow promontories projecting into them from the platforms, we are compelled to abandon this notion. To attribute these hollows to the present alluvial action would be preposterous; nor does the drainage from the summit-level always fall, as I remarked near the Weatherboard, into the head of these valleys, but into one side of their baylike recesses. Some of the inhabitants remarked to me that they never viewed one of those baylike recesses, with the headlands receding on both hands, without being struck with their resemblance to a bold sea-coast. This is certainly the case; moreover, on the present coast of New South Wales, the numerous fine, widely-branching harbours, which are generally connected with the sea by a narrow mouth worn through the sandstone coast-cliffs, varying from one mile in width to a quarter of a mile, present a likeness, though on a miniature scale, to the great valleys of the interior. But then immediately occurs the startling difficulty, why has the sea worn out these great though circumscribed depressions on a wide platform, and left mere gorges at the openings, through which the whole vast amount of triturated matter must have been carried away? [Edgeworth David in 1896 noted that valleys constrict to almost impassable gorges where "rivers break through the monclinal fold at the eastern edge of the plateau and that "this remarkable contraction of the valleys has been commented on by Darwin" but the only further explanation David gave was to say it "is due to the geological structure of the district" Roy.Soc.NSW, Ann. Address].  The only light I can throw upon this enigma is by remarking that banks of the most irregular forms appear to be now forming in some seas, as in parts of the West Indies and in the Red Sea, and that their sides are exceedingly steep. Such banks, I have been led to suppose, have been formed by sediment heaped by strong currents on an irregular bottom. That in some cases the sea, instead of spreading out sediment in a uniform sheet, heaps it round submarine rocks and islands, it is hardly possible to doubt, after examining the charts of the West Indies; and that the waves have power to form high and precipitous cliffs, even in land-locked harbours, I have noticed in many parts of South America. To apply these ideas to the sandstone platforms of New South Wales, I imagine that the strata were heaped by the action of strong currents, and of the undulations of an open sea, on an irregular bottom; and that the valley-like spaces thus left unfilled had their steeply sloping flanks worn into cliffs during a slow elevation of the land; the worn-down sandstone being removed, either at the time when the narrow gorges were cut by the retreating sea, or subsequently by alluvial action."

 

 

 

Popular understanding of Blue Mountains geology - that it all formed around one million years ago.

By:  Stralia Web Office: Shop 6, Raymond Mall. 7-9 Raymond Rd, Springwood and 

Blue Mountains Tourism (Source: http://www.bluemts.com.au//tourist/about/history-detail.asp )

 

What's the age or origin of the Blue Mountains?    At present the Internet seems to deliver nothing on this apart from the above.  This is typical of 1890s-1930s inferences, for example:

 

David, T.W. Edgeworth, 1896.  Anniversary Address by the President, delivered to the Royal Society of New South Wales: Summary of our Present Knowledge of the Structure and Origin of the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Sydney,  Illusts. with four colour folding maps. 8vo. wrap. (70pages).     [ David was  was Professor of Geology, University of Sydney.]

 

However, the "Great lost river" which 'slipped off the eastern face of the Blue Mountains, when rising, has remnant deposits underlying a basalt flow dated at 40 Ma.  This is considerably older than the basalts atop of the Blue Mountains (such as at Mts Hay, Banks, Tomah and Wilson), which were much earlier dated (at about 17 Ma).  Hence the Blue Mountains plateau likely rose very much earlier than one million years ago.   The state government (National Parks) gives a very much older age: "When you look at the Blue Mountains, you're looking at the plateau created by the uplift 170 million years ago".

Since Andrews (1911) introduced the idea of the Pliocene Kosciusko Uplift in the southeastern highlands of Australia, there has been considerable debate about the validity of this Cenozoic uplift event.  Modern research more and more refuted extensive young uplift in the highlands and in Victoria evidence was found that highland relief was in existence by the Cretaceous.   Since the Eocene, Victoria’s eastern highlands may have been uplifted a kilometre or more.   A major period of regional uplift and exhumation in the eastern Victorian highlands began during the Late Eocene and continues to present.  (Guy Hodgate, in a 2006 talk "No mountains to snow on: Post-Eocene uplift of the Eastern Highlands of Victoria: Evidence from Cenozoic deposits", University of Melbourne).

R. W. Young in a 1978 review ("The study of landform evolution in the Sydney region: a review") cast doubt on many things: "Since the triumph of the fluvialist school, and especially since the introduction of the cyclic model of landform evolution at the turn of this century, geomorphological research in the Sydney region has been pictured as an essentially orderly progression based on the rigorous testing of hypotheses against field evidence. But with the passage of time the tenuous nature of the foundations on which the edifice was built was largely forgotten; what began as inference became regarded as fact. Hypotheses where applied, rarely tested, and theory rather than field evidence became the ultimate court of appeal.   Early accounts gave widely divergent explanations of the landscape. Even at the close of the nineteenth century, Edgeworth David still thought it necessary to refute Charles Darwin's arguments for a marine origin, though Darwin's case had been severely criticized fifty years earlier by J. D. Dana. While the earlier fluvialists undoubtedly paved the way for the advent of cyclic interpretations, the introduction of W. M. Davis's evolutionary scheme greatly increased the momentum of, and gave new direction to landform research. The rapid acceptance of Davis's Geographical Cycle was due essentially to the efforts of E. C. Andrews, but Andrews, unlike his colleagues, was also grea]tly influenced by the work of G. K. Gilbert. In fact the study of erosional process, prompted by Gilbert's example, became paramount in Andrews's work, and led to the recognition of serious anomaly in the Davisian synthesis. Rather than leading to a challenge to the cyclical model, however, anomalous evidence was either ignored or countered by essentially ad hoc modification. A review of more than half a century of research shows that the prime concern was the solving of problems which were made meaningful only by the acceptance of the cyclic model.  Recent research indicates that basic tenets of the traditional interpretation of the region's landforms are unfounded, and that a thorough re-evaluation of long-held beliefs is needed. Not only hypotheses relating to particular landforms, but also widely held assumptions about the progress of geomorphologic research in the region are now challenged."   Young's present views are yet to be sought.

It is still stated that "The present landscape of the Blue Mountains (and much of eastern NSW) owes its elevation to the mainly gentle upwarp known as the Kosciusko Uplift which began several million years ago" by Col Grant (at a website intended mainly for use by high school students.   Some still use the term Kosciusko Uplift and simply give it an older age, e.g. "The Blue Mountains, Hornsby and Woronora Plateaux developed during the Kosciusko Uplift maybe 60 MA, with warping along the Lapstone Monocline. This tectonic activity could well be related to the opening of the Tasman Sea and associated basaltic activity 60 – 80 Ma" (Upper Parramatta River Catchment Authority)..

 

Those who doubt the Kosciusko Uplift include Grapes and David Oldroyd (2008), below, who see the Kosciusko uplift hypothesis as fatally compromised.

 

 

History of geomorphology and quaternary geology

 

History of geomorphology and quaternary geology.  By R. H. Grapes and David Oldroyd, 2008.

Geological Society of London.

 

 

Another more comprehensive consideration is given by Oz Greetings (owned by nature enthusiast Klaus Jaritz), as  follows:

 

"""""""""""

The geological genesis of this visually so prominent monocline (Lapsonte) is quite controversial.

For a long time this warp together with the uplift of the Blue Mountains plateau was dated as late Tertiary period,
between 5 and 2Ma. This theory attributes mighty work to the Grose, the Colo and Nepean rivers. They would have had little time to remove an astounding three quarters of the mass of the Blue Mountains and cut the plateau into today's maze of awesome chasms.

Authors P.Hunt, P.W.Schmidt and P.Bishop in a palaeomagnetic study of iron bearing rocks published 1982 conclude, that the monocline formed between 8 and 22Ma.

T.F.Branagan, T.Langford-Smith and C.Herbert (1979) dismiss the folding of the monocline in the late Tertiary as unlikely. Instead, they believe that the "folding occurred in the early Miocene, or earlier", which means plus/minus 30Ma.
Author Schmidt, who in 1982 estimated the monocline to have been a middle to late Miocene event, finds in 1992 that "the major movement along the Lapstone Monocline post-dates ~90Ma and was probably related to precursor events leading to rifting in the Tasman Sea".

But in a 1992 paper author P.Bishop, again, together with J.W.Pickett states: "The Lapstone Monocline was most likely complete prior to the volcanically active period in the early Jurassic period." -lets say around 180/190Ma. Both authors find "considerable evidence for the exhumation of the Lapstone Monocline as opposed to a late folding". This marks the monocline as an ancient event over which sedimentation continued and was later eroded again.

The writers of "Layers of Time" (8) believe that the monocline developed slowly over 50 million years ending up with a height then of maybe 500 metres. While the old sediments were being folded, new ones were laid on top at a rate of one millimetre per hundred years; or one metre every 100 000 years. According to this scenario sediments would have been spilled increasingly into the down-moving east. This corresponds to today's facts. Triassic strata under the Cumberland Plain are thicker than in the west.

Under the title "The Lapstone structural complex" published 1990, the Australian Journal of Earth Science No.37 finds that the warp was the result of a compression from the north which had lifted the basin; and that there was already an "early Triassic modification of near surface rocks to form the currently visible features".

At present one assumes that the raising of the Sydney Basin plateaux was part of a tectonic adjustment which, over many million years, created the southeastern highlands of Australia from Victoria to southern Queensland. It was the result of the separation of a chunk of land beginning 86Ma. It drifted eastward and opened up the Tasman Basin. New Zealand and a splatter of islands are relics of this chunk, the rest is now a submerged plateau called the Lord Howe rise (14). This break-off lifted a lot of weight off the continental crust. A series of gentle uplifts reinstated equilibrium. This tectonic realignment is now referred to as the Kosciusko Uplift - a series of on-and-off events which ended only 2 or 3 million years ago. It involved wide-spread faulting activity in the Sydney basin.

The absence of corresponding markers between plain and plateau since the Triassic makes exact dating of the monocline and rise of the Blue Mountains a vague guess. However, there are some gravels on top of the mountains, the Rickabys Creek Laterite; and these gravels seem to correspond to those down on the Cumberland Plain. Unfortunately, heavy lateritisation prevents to pinpoint their age (16). But they clearly date the warp of the monocline after the laying down of these gravels sometime during the Tertiary. And it must have been a slow and gentle process, because the course of the Nepean River, which cuts through the monocline, was established before the uplift. The river was able to maintain its course and dig down at the same rate of lift.

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Oz Greetings however has a composite array of different geological articles on it and another one states:

 

""""""""

The raising of the Great Dividing Range began 86Ma when a chunk of the continent broke off and drifted east, opening the Tasman Sea. New Zealand and a splatter of islands are part of this chunk. The rest is now a submerged plateau called the Lord Howe Rise.  Relieved of all that weight eastern Australia went through a period of tectonic adjustment over many million years. Like in a deep breath of relaxation the land rose in a series of gentle uplifts. These are now called collectively the Kosciusko Uplift. It might have lasted until 3 or 2 million years ago. The scenically stunning Blue Mountains are also a result of this uplift.

 

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Geology at Jamison Valley.   Geological Survey 1:50K map Katoomba 8930-I; 1996

 

[Compiled by Ron Goldberry in 1969, though not published till 1996.  This is stated to have been based on geological

work by R. Goldberry, R.H. Goodwin, W.N. Holland, G.G. Holmes, C.T. McElroy and R.E. Relph.]

 

Of these authors, a major source is "Stratigraphy and Sedimentation in the Blue Labyrinth, NSW" (1968), a thesis by R.H.Goodwin.

 

 

Distant view of the Kings Tableland beyond the Three Sisters, looking east.   Note the distinct thin topmost band of 

sandstone above the main cliff face (the 'wedding rock' sandstone unit).    A closer view follows.

 

 

Kings Tableland cliff face, showing the 'Wedding Rock' (A) at upper left, the sandstone at "C" near the communication towers which may be the Kings Table unit, and the lateral extent of the Wedding Rock sandstone unit.  The Wedding Rock unit is weathered back a little way form the main vertical cliffs and separated presumably by some shaley interbeds.   Slightly shaley or interbedded intervals are reflected by the tree lines on the cliff face.   Note thinner bedded or interbedded sequence exposures at the medial tree line on the vertical cliff face below both "A" and "C" points.   (Photo:  Steve Bennett).   The two tree lines presumably correspond to the

units on the above geological section called the Wentworth Falls Claystone Member and the Mount York Claystone.

 

This section measured down the track to Valley of the Waters, beginning at the Conservation Hut (by Goodwin, 1968) is 180 ft of sandstone to the first claystone which is 5 ft thick ("grey, hard, dense, may be lenticular along cliff"); thence 115 ft more of sandstone to the next claystone (Mount York Claystone).   Here the Mt York 'Claystone' unit is interbedded major sandstone (to 35 ft thick) and lesser claystone (beds to 2 ft thick) [by contrast, at the Giant Stairway, Katoomba, he described the Mt York Claystone as comprising 9.5 ft of grey hard dense claystone with some portions mottled red brown].    Below that is the thick Burra-Moko Head Sandstone, with a 7 ft thick claystone band, shaley in part, 250 ft down from the top.   Another 125ft of sandstone lies below that with numerous claystone interbeds up to 10 ft thick.  Below that are other similar alternating beds till the coal (Katoomba Seam) is reached.   Just which unit is which is cliff face view remains unclear from all this (e.g. Goodwin believed that Goldberry had earlier confused the "Mount York Claystone" member at Narrowneck Peninsula with some other claystone).   Moreover, Goodwin recorded a sandstone sample from "Kings Tableland Trig." as "Grose Sandstone".   The Kings Tableland Trig. presumably means Kings Table.  So if he regarded that sandstone are still part of the Grose sandstone then his first described claystone in descent could be the one below 'Wedding Rock' sandstone (and likely what the 1:50K map calls the Wentworth Falls Claystone Member).  Then the Mt York Claystone would be the next down trees-level that is showing as laminated in the above cliffs photo.   Goodwin noted that in the Govett's Leap Sandstone Member (Caley Formation) the ironstaining is not concentrated into bands.  However, above that ironstone bands up to 3" thick and 'random to banding' are common in the Grose Sandstone (Burra-Molo Head and higher members).  In places further east, e.g. Euroka Trig. section and at Woodford, Goodwin also noted that ironstaining was not in strong bands within the Hawkesbury Sandstone but commenced to be such in the underlying Grose Sandstone.  

 

According to Goodwin the westernmost Hawkesbury Sandstone along the Great Western Highway was between Hazelbrook and Lawson and the Burralow Formation there ceased to be distinguishable from the Grose Sandstone.  Later mapping differs from this.

One major difference is that Goodwin could find no evidence of the Mt Tomah monocline continuing south through the Blue Labyrinth region whereas modern mapping continues it right through there.  

 

 

 

 

View of Kings Tableland possibly from near Princes Rock

 

 

The point just west of the twin towers.  The cliff forming sandstone is the Grose Sandstone.  The Wedding

Rock unit, which lies above it and is weathered back somewhat in outcrop, might be allied to the Grose

Sandstone.  Or else, it and the higher up 'Kings Table' sandstone might be both part of the Caley

Formation.   No stratigraphic assignments for the cliffs around Jamison Valley have been noted.

However in the Grose Valley the Grose Sandstone is divided into the Banks Wall and

Burra-Moko Head Sandstones, separtated by the Mount York Claystone.  Possibly

the ledge-forming laminated member half way up these cliffs is transitional 

laterally to the Mount York Claystone, or perhaps it is the next one down.

 

 

 

 

Bembrick C. S. and Holland W.N., 1972.  Stratigraphy and structure of Grose Sandstone in the Blue Mountains.

Quarterly Notes of the Geological Survey of New South Wales.

 

Bemrick was with the Geological Survey and Holland was at that time a research student in the Department of Geography at University of Sydney.

 

Holland mapped and named the Wentworth Falls Claystone.   He at that time had in preparation a thesis "New facts on the Narrabeen Group in  the Blue Mountains".

 

 

A marked change in the dip direction of cross bedding was discovered above and below the Wentworth Falls Claystone Member, as shown above.  Averaged cross-bedding azimuth for the underlying Burra-Moko Head Sandstone is similarly to the SE at 155 deg Mag (Bembrick, Bulletin 26, p.149).

 

Characteristically the claystone is overlain by a 4.5-6m thickness of conglomeratic sandstone with large well rounded quartz pebbles.   Cited examples of this are seen in quarries in Narrow Neck (cf. Patterson's quarry, QR142, MR03944) and and at Connaught Road, Blackheath [see also reported white quartz pebble gravel pit at Main Road, Katoomba; and Medlow Bath operation by G. Anderson which was partly worked by underground room and pillar method, MR 03920].    The Connaught Road quarry referred to in the 1972 QN is the Council quarry, on the north side of Govett's Leap Road one mile ENE of Blackheath railway station.   About 20 ft of fine quartz pebble gravel (half inch pebbles) was worked there.  The Anderson's quarry, on the east side of the highway 0.75 mile north of Medlow Bath railway station also worked about 20ft of gravel, covered by 'sand'.   This may be deep weathering of the sandstone and poor exposures suggest some very minor occurrences of similar material at Kings Tableland also.   Pockets of clean white sand also 

occur at the top of Nellie's Glen, 1 mile WNW of Katoomba railway station.  

 

A pellet claystone, with composition and texture like the Garie Formation claystone, overlies that coarse unit in the vicinity of Banks Wall [cf. 7ft claystone bed at Govetts Leap quarry (GR 293445) which has abundant 1/16th in pellets that readily weather out of the rock - GS1978/296].   At Sublime Point the Wentworth Falls Claystone Member is a 20ft zone of no outcrop down about 145ft from the top, with some buff and mottled chocolate claystone scree (GS1978/296).    

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Andrews, E.C., 1911.  Geographical unity of Eastern Australia in Late and Post Tertiary Time, with application to biological problems. Journal of Proceedings Royal Society of New South Wales.  Vol. 44, pp.  420-480.

Blaxland, Gregory (1778-1853), 1813 (Edited by Frank Walker).  A journal of a tour of discovery across the Blue mountains, New South Wales, in the year 1813 / by Gregory Blaxland, with references and explanatory notes, maps, etc. by Frank Walker.   [Copies at State Library]

Darwin, Charles.   A Naturalist's Voyage Round the World.  Journal of Researches  into the Natural History and Geology of the countries visited during the voyage round the world of H.M.S. Beagle under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, R.N. with illustrations by R. T. Pritchett of places visited and objects described.   [HTML version].

Goodwin, Robert Henry, 1968.   Studies in stratigraphy and sedimentation in the Blue Labyrinth, New South Wales.   M.Sc. thesis, University of New South Wales.

Stockton, E.D. and Holland, W., 1974.  "Cultural Sites and their Environment in the Blue Mountains” in Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania Vol 9, No 1.

Stockton, E. D. 1993.   Archaeology of the Blue Mountains.  In E. Stockton (ed.), Blue Mountains Dreaming.  The Aboriginal Heritage, pp. 23–52. Winmalee, NSW.  AThree Sisters Publication.

Stockton E. (Ed.), 1996.   Blue Mountains Dreaming.  Another edition.   Katoomba

Stockton, E. D.  [ca 1973].   Kings Table Shelter.   Report submitted to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Young, R.W., 1978.  The study of landform evolution in the Sydney region: a review.  Australian Geographer.  Vol. 14, issue 2, pp. 71-93.

 

 

 .... The project continues :

This project was commenced by John Byrnes (geologist) in 2009, and is continuing in 2010 in cooperation with Denice Rice (geochemist, guitarist, singer and poet):

 

Dennis Rice , tdrice "@" pnc.com.au

 

Denis Rice lives in Katoomba and is of Irish, Scottish and Welsh descent.

Since its inception in August 2008, Dennis has been the convenor of ‘Poetry at the Pub’, a session of poetry in all its forms, plus some music and storytelling, at Blackburn’s Family Hotel Katoomba on the second Sunday of the month.

An elegant songwriter, Dennis also sets poems to music.   He has done this with  “The Billy of Tea” (Anon.), “An Irish Blessing“ (Anon.), “The White Cockatoo”, “A Song for Boy’s Week” and “Australia Fair” (Maybanke Anderson), “The Hungry Mile” (Ernest Antony), “The Evenlode” (Hilaire Belloc), “The Willows” (James Devaney), “Books”, “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” and "In the Week When Christmas Comes" (Eleanor Farjeon),  “The Fighters Who Fell” (Xanana Gusmao), “Mend the Torn Air”, “A Tumbler of Drambuie”, “Never Forget You”, “The Greater Stick-Nest Rat” and “Have You Seen Your Own Blue Mountains?” (Denis Kevans), “Rain in the Mountains” and “In Possum Land” (Henry Lawson), “My Country” and “Sketch-Portrait of a Lady” (Dorothea Mackellar), “Sea-Fever” and “A Wanderer’s Song” (John Masefield), “Native Companions Dancing” (John Shaw Neilson), “The Farmer Remembers the Somme” (Vance Palmer), “At the Melting of the Snow” (Banjo Paterson), “Adlestrop” (Edward Thomas), “Through the Horse’s Eyes” (Terry Regan), “Condamine Bells” and “Song of the State Battery” (Jack Sorensen), “Grey Laughing Eyes” (Milton Taylor), and “Song of the Fruitgrower” (John Thompson).

 

Re setting poems to music,  "Denis has the knack of finding melodies that sound natural, as if they have always ‘gone with’ the words” (Peter Kearney, http://www.hinet.net.au/~peterk , Singer-Songwriter, Crossover Music, Welby, NSW).

 

Denis' recordings include My Country and Other Songs (1994) and Chindwin River Dreaming (2003).  His distinctive folk and ballad music has been featured by BBC Radio 4, ABC Radio and BLU FM 89.1. 

Denis is also a teacher and consulting chemist.  He has worked and performed in Ireland, England, the United States, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Laos, as well as in Australia.