Major problems with Cox’s Western Road had to be solved: The descent from Mount York down the western escarpment was difficult and treacherous. In 1830, Governor Darling instructed the new Surveyor-General, Thomas Mitchell, to find an improved line to Bathurst.
The Toll Bar Cottage 1849
Mount Victoria is the most westerly township in the Blue Mountains - 120 kilometres from Sydney and 1043 metres above sea-level.
It is a small but very charming historic village that was originally named 'One Tree Hill' and shows on a map dating back to 1834 - the name wasn't changed until 1876 when the first Post Office was built.
The mountains become an up-market Victorian playground In the late 19th century. Parts of Sydney were filthy, poverty-stricken and overcrowded. Epidemics of cholera, typhoid and smallpox were a constant threat. Sydney’s wealthy residents felt uncomfortable about this.
For both the rich and the not-so-well-off, the opening of the Great Western Railway in 1868 was a godsend. Now they could easily escape to the fresh air of the mountains, leaving Sydney’s pestilence to the poor. Guesthouses sprang up everywhere, and members of the elite built fashionable summer residences in the mountains.
There are a large number of historic buildings, including Karawath House (Original sections 1830-35), the Imperial Hotel (1878), St Peter's Church of England (1874), The Manor House, built by John Fairfax in 1876, Closeburn House (1885) and the Toll Keepers Cottage (1849).
The Road over the Mountains...
Evans had surveyed the road; William Cox was given the job of building it.
In July 1814, Cox took a convict gang of just 28 men and they laid 160 km of road in just six months – an amazing feat for such a small team, in such difficult conditions, using primitive equipment.
For their efforts, the convicts gained their freedom.
The colony gained an even bigger prize: the fertile western plains.
Governor Macquarie was the first official traveller to use the road, making his way out to the Bathurst Plains in 1815. The journey took nine days (the road was rough in places, to put it lightly).
When he reached the plains, Macquarie proclaimed the site of Bathurst.
Mitchell’s route descended not from Mount York, but from a ridge he named Mount Victoria.
The Pass of Victoria, with its spectacular stone causeways, opened in 1832. Mitchell’s Bridge, also built by convicts in 1832, is still used by traffic on the Great Western Highway. It descends from Mount Victoria.