In Search of Two Carved Trees from the 1801 Expedition

On the 208th anniversary, the University of Newcastle’s Coal River Working Party embarked on a pilgrimage to Mt Elizabeth.

Mt Elizabeth on Barrallier's 1801 plan
Mt Elizabeth on Barrallier’s 1801 plan

Mount Elizabeth was the furthest west that the original 1801 Survey party led by Colonel Paterson reached on the 10 July 1801. On the peak they left two blazed trees with their initials and date 1801 which we had hoped to re-discover.

See Barrallier’s full 1801 Survey Map located online here:

Francis Barrallier – Coal Harbour and Rivers ..1801 (Courtesy of National Archives of the UK)

With the help of local historian Pat Barden, who contacted the owner of the land upon which it now rests, we were granted permission to scale the peak on its 208th anniversary, Friday 10 July 2009.

The Barden Famiy are local historians, and have led a number of commemorative treks up the Mountain over the years with the permission of the landowners.

In 1801 during Paterson/Barrallier’s survey mission it was named Mount Elizabeth. Its original Aboriginal name was recorded on Dangar’s map dated 1828 as ‘Kolen kolen’. The meaning of the word is unknown. However, the Rev Canon Carlos Stretch, in his Aboriginal notebooks held in the University of Newcastle records that ‘kollen’ means ‘water’.

Kolen kolen from Dangar's 1828 map
Kolen kolen from Dangar’s 1828 map

Back in July 1801 the following remarks were recorded by Lieutenant Grant and Lieutenant Colonel Paterson:

REMARKS, &c., on board His Majesty’s armed surveying vessel, Lady Nelson, in Hunter River, 1801. By LIEUT. GRANT, COMMANDER HUNTER RIVER (HRNSW V.4: 404-409):

[Friday 10 July 1801]
“The next day brought us to the foot of a high hill, [ed. Colonel Paterson named this hill Mount Elizabeth, in honor of his wife] which was still higher than Mount Ann, and connected to the same by a chain of lesser hills forming a semi-circle nearly. From the top of this we could see the island in the entrance of the harbour, all the range of blue mountains which we had now got to the nor’w’d of, and also the river for a great way inland winding in various ways. The production and soil here is nearly what I have before described, and, like the first, is steep on one side. Here we found some new plants of the fearn tribe, and others, particularly a sort of balm which grows here to a great size, the stem of it approaching nearly to the texture of wood, and is of a sweeter smell than the common balm. This mount was named Mount Elizabeth.

On it will be found a tree with the letters W.P., J.G., J.H., F.B., [ed. These initials evidently stood for William Paterson, James Grant, John Harris, Francis Barrallier] with the year 1801. In another tree we cut a piece of the wood from it, which will stand a long time visible. We saw that the river took so long a sweep and returned to nearly the same place, that it would take us the next day to get almost to the place we were…”

(HRNSW V.4: 448-453)

“July 10. – Continued our course up the river, winding between high hills to almost every point of the compass, getting wider as we proceeded, but in places very shoal. About 1 o’clock p.m. came to a very high hill, where we halted on purpose to reach the summit, where we might have an opportunity of seeing what we had to expect in prosecuting our journey further. This hill we called Mount Elizabeth. It is the termination of the chain of mountains called King’s Range, of which Mount Anne is the commencement. The range forms two-thirds of a circle, and, as I observed before, about 9 miles in extent, and their height from 5 to 700 feet. Mount Elizabeth is the highest, from where we had an extensive view of a low country for many miles. The chain of mountains before mentioned, particularly to the westward, were more visible and appeared very rocky and perpendicular. Observing the river winding through this immense plain in many directions gave us no hopes of reaching the source of it for some days, and knowing that the Lady Nelson was only victualled to the 1st Aug’t, we reluctantly agreed to return…”

OUR MISSION : To retrace the steps of the 1801 survey mission, and search for the two carved trees they left there. Take photographs and document the trip.

The CRWP team members on this mission are:

Peter Barden (Guide) with Larry Barden and son
Professor John Fryer (Emeritus Professor of Surveying)
Margaret Fryer
Peter Sherlock (Director Monteath & Powys Surveyors)
Russell Rigby (Geologist)
Dr Ann Llewellyn (Head of School of Design, Communication and Information Technology)
Herbert Heinrich (University of Newcastle – Design)
Ann Hardy (Historian and Secretary Hunter Branch, National Trust)
Warren Hardy
Cynthia Hunter (Historian)
Anne Creevey (Historian and Writer)
Gionni Di Gravio (CRWP Chair, University Archivist)

Images from the day [Report forthcoming]

The trek begins
The trek begins
Path towards Mt Elizabeth now Mt Hudson
Path towards Mt Elizabeth now Mt Hudson
CRWP Expedition tean with later identified tree just visible
CRWP Expedition tean with later identified tree just visible
View from the summit
View from the summit
Hardenbergia flowers just near the Trig Station
Hardenbergia flowers just near the Trig Station
Trees on the summit
Trees on the summit
Surveyor's Trig Station
Surveyor’s Trig Station
View towards Newcastle
View towards Newcastle
Blazed tree that was located by CRWP team
Blazed tree that was located by CRWP team

We will need to find a Dendrochronologist to examine the tree and independantly date the tree and the blaze to make sure that it is the tree blazed during the 1801 expedition.

Gionni Di Gravio
Chair- University of Newcastle’s CRWP



3 thoughts on “In Search of Two Carved Trees from the 1801 Expedition

  1. Hello ,my name is Pat Barden from Adamstown,co.Wexford,Ireland.I know that part of my family moved to Australia and then we think to Newzealand around 1900.That was the last we knew of them.

    We note that Bardens are local historians in the Newcastle area.We wonder would they have any records or any knowledge at all of our family who left Ireland around this time.

    Looking foward to hearing from you,

    Pat Barden

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