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Found: Rare maps from the Macquarie era

In issue 13, Robin McLachlan from Charles Sturt University shares his exciting finding exclusively with us.

Robin’s recent discovery of two Macquarie-era maps shed new light on the inland city of Bathurst in New South Wales. Robin made the discovery while researching at the State Records NSW in Kingswood, Sydney. One of his current research projects is Bathurst’s bicentenary in 2015, and in particular, the site of the first flag staff, erected by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1815. It was this search that led Robin to two maps of a lost city in inland New South Wales! The maps or plans, to be more correct, reveal the location of the town of Bathurst, explains Robin. “Now, you’ll say that Bathurst is not a ‘lost city,’” Robin says. “That’s true, but the two plans – SR1293 and SR1294 – that I’ve found at State Records are for an earlier Bathurst, the one mapped out in 1815 on the orders of Macquarie. The present-day town of Bathurst was not surveyed until almost 20 years later. These plans are for another Bathurst, a lost city that never was.”

Although undated and unsigned, both plans carry later notations provided by the Surveyor General’s staff. SR1293 was thought to be the work of “Sur(veyor) G.W. Evans probably 1815”. SR1293 is pictured below.

Source: Courtesy Robin McLachlan and State Records NSW

On SR1294 a later hand has written “By James Meehan Probably 1821 FB189”, with the postscript “Or 1815 FB107”. FB107 refers to Field Book 107, used by Meehan in May 1815 at Bathurst. An expert comparison of the plans with field books may offer more evidence. A date of 1815, however, seems plausible given the marking on SR1294 of the “intended” location of “Govt House”. By 1817, Government House was built. SR1294 is pictured below, with Robin’s typed annotations.

Source: Courtesy Robin McLachlan and State Records NSW

The painting below shows Maquarie’s camp at Bathurst in 1815. The watercolour is attributed to professional artist John Lewin. The scene is described in Henry Colden Antill’s, “Journal of an excursion over the Blue or Western Mountains of New South Wales to visit a tract of new discovered Country, 1815”. The entry for 5 May(pp.36-37), describes the scene: “The spot which was chosen for the Governor’s large tent was upon a little rising ground about three hundred yards from the men’s huts; a small tent was placed on each side with a clear space in front upon which a small flag staff was erected. This was a delightful spot for a town, commanding a view of the surrounding country to a considerable extent…”.

Source: Courtesy of State Library of NSW

Read more about Robin McLachlan’s plans to find the original Bathurst in issue 13 of Inside History.

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