Lieutenant William Dawes 1762-1836

The first (documented) white person to set foot in the vicinity of Warrimoo was Marine Lieutenant William Dawes, who had been sent to New South Wales to assist the military keep order in 1788. He was a cultured man, who took an avid interest in astronomy (the telescope at Dawes Point) and in the local Indigenous people and their languages. So much so, that when Pemulwuy killed Governor Phillip’s gamekeeper and the Governor ordered him to go on a punitive expedition against the natives, Dawes refused to go. He argued that the gamekeeper, John MacIntyre, had caused provocation to Aboriginal people around the harbour, and may have deserved his fate. In the event, Dawes was prevailed upon to go on the expedition, which proved utterly fruitless. Nevertheless, the bad blood this whole incident brought between Dawes and the Governor ultimately led to his leaving the colony in December, 1791.

However, two years earlier this same William Dawes, along with Watkin Tench, had discovered the Nepean River and with a small party and minimal provisions, Dawes determined to explore further westward. In December 1789, he commenced his journey:

To the ‘line of march’. The first day he headed due west from Emu Ford to the crest of the first ridge, in the vicinity of Mt. Riverview, and from here had a direct view of ‘Round Hill’ (Mt. Hay).

Dawes moved his ‘line of march’ to a straight traverse and made a bee line for Round Hill crossing the now line of highway just near the Sydney side of Warrimoo.

In other words, Dawes scaled the escarpment at present day Mt. Riverview and took a direct westerly march, keeping a mark on Mt. Hay to his right. This route misses the areas of Glenbrook and Blaxland entirely, but if such a forthright strategy was to continue, it was clear Dawes’ path would be an extraordinarily difficult one, obliging him and his party to climb and descend continuously.

Early Warrimoo historian, Maisie Lupton, continues the story…

…he would have passed by the foot of the ridge which is now Florabella Street on his unsuccessful trip to find a route across the Camarthen Mountains, as the Blue Mountains were then known. It is believed that his ‘line of march’ would have taken him along a course similar to that of the high tension electricity line which crosses the Highway, near the (now defunct) Westward Ho Cafe, and continues across the gullies and ridges in a westerly direction…

Dawes and his small party struggled on, but somewhere between Linden and Lawson provisions began to run low and exhaustion set in, causing them to return to Emu Ford and then Sydney Town.