Ld010 : Bulls Camp | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Heritage

Ld010 : Bulls Camp

Item details

Name of item: Ld010 : Bulls Camp
Other name/s: 20 Mile Hollow Convict Stockade; 18 Mile Hollow Stockade; Bull's Camp Reserve
Primary address: 1-6 Great Western Highway, Woodford, NSW 2778
Parish: Woodford
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1-6 Great Western HighwayWoodfordBlue Mountains WoodfordCookPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion(a) Historical
The Bull's Camp Reserve has significant historic associations with the early European occupation of the Blue Mountains and the Linden to Woodford area in particular, being the site of a convict stockade established in 1835. The stockade was one of a series established during the 'Great Roads' period from the 1820s to 1830s when convict gangs were utilised to complete major road lines extending to the north, west and south of Sydney. The camp was again utilised during the railway building phase through the Blue Mountains during the 1860s.

Criterion (b) Persons
As a roadside Stockade established during the mid-1830s the Bull's Camp site is associated with the Governor Sir Richard Bourke and with the Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell. The site has also become associated with John Edward Newell Bull, who was the commandant of the Twenty Mile Hollow Stockade for nine years before being transferred along with the road gang to a new stockade established at Blackheath in 1844.

Criterion (d) Social
Bull's Camp has a long tradition in the Mountains of a landmark site. Much of the folklore surrounding the site developed during the early twentieth century and was first recorded by Frank Walker and others associated with the early Royal Australian Historical Society. The site is still in use as a camping ground and stopping place beside the main road.

Criterion (e) Technical/Research
Convict Stockade sites are significant for their archaeological potential. The archaeological evidence likely to be contained within convict stockade sites has important scientific and research value. Specific convict stockade sites have been little studied to date and none have been subject to fully comprehensive archaeological investigation or competent excavation. The types of questions which might be investigated by adequate programs include for example: the lifestyle, living conditions and material culture of road-gang convicts.

Crieterion (f) Rarity
Documented and identified roadside convict camp sites are relatively rare. Only a few intact stockade sites are known for each of the 1830s 'Great Roads' in NSW.
Date significance updated: 03 Jan 05
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1835-1835
Physical description: The Bull's Camp Reserve is a large flat clearing beside the Great Western Highway. The clearing is surrounded by native vegetation including eucalypt trees and shrubs. The cleared area is criss-crossed by unsurfaced vehicular tracks and features several sandstone rock outcrops along the south-western edge. Two of these outcrops have features which have been identified as probable convict-era relics. The first is a series of parallel grooves inscribed or picked-into a sloping rock shelf. These grooves have been identified as a 'flogging stone' and in popular folklore are explained as having been cut to give the scourger a secure foothold. Local historian Allan Searle has pointed out, however, that the grooves may have been cut to provide secure footing for any number of reasons, possibly because other items associated with the convict stockade such as kitchens or blacksmith's forge were situated in the vicinity. (Searle, 1987: 27). An outcrop towards the southern end of the clearing features a narrow pathway excavated into the rock which leads to a cave with a door frame hewn into the entrance. The cave has been enlarged by hand excavation to form a semicircular rock-cut chamber with a flat roof. The cave collects seepage from the reserve above and is often damp. There is evidence of rubbish dumping and minor vandalism including graffiti in and around the cave. In popular imagination this cave is identified as a 'dungeon' or cell for the confinement of convicts.

This seems unlikely as the stockade was described as having used the mobile caravans or 'prisoner boxes' and huts for convict accommodation. Other explanations for the cave include a storage chamber or powder magazine, examples of which are known from both the Great North and Great South roads. The dampness of the cave, however, may have made it unsuited for these purposes, which may be an explanation for the similar rock-cut chamber which is found 0.5 km to the north-east on the opposite side of the Great Western Highway (BMCC Heritage Study Item LD 024 - Store Cave).

Near the centre of the northern half of the clearing area a line of sandstone block footings is exposed at ground level. These appear likely to be an archaeological site and probably relate to one of the 1830s stockade structures. A large waterhole (fenced) is situated in the north-eastern area of the clearing. This waterhole was created by quarrying for the abutments of a nearby railway overbridge built in 1902.

More recent elements in the reserve include a concrete block toilet; a pole frame and corrugated iron picnic shelter and several picnic tables. A section of 1820s convict walling with a box culvert was relocated beside the front boundary of the Bull's Camp reserve in 1994 where it supports the modern batter for the realigned Great Western Highway.

Two other items in the vicinity are likely to be convict-era relics and have also been popularly associated with Captain Bull. These are: 'Bull's Bath' situated within the creek 0.5 km southwest of Bull's Camp (inventoried as BMCC Item LD 017B - Bull's Bath); and 'Captain Bull's Chair' situated on the ridge above the creek on the east side of the main railway line (inventoried as item LD 017A - Bull's Chair).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Substantially intact. Several archaeological features evident.
Date condition updated:03 Jan 05
Current use: Reserve
Former use: Stockade

History

Historical notes: In 1834 Mitchell reported to Governor Bourke that work was underway around present-day Linden, the road gangs ‘completing the new line to avoid the 17-mile pinch...on which they are now employed’ (Mitchell, 1834). In December 1835, the Colonial Secretary wrote to Thomas Mitchell: '... the Governor proposes to place a third Stockade on the Bathurst Road, to hasten the completion of the new line between Seventeen-mile-and-a-half and Twenty-mile Hollows, [ie. Linden to Woodford] and to request that you will desire sub-Inspector James by this day’s post, to mark it in its whole length, so that the Officer in charge of the gangs may clear so much of it as shall enable him to fix upon the most suitable spot for the position of the Stockade. His Excellency will defer placing a gang between the Pilgrim [Blaxland] and Springwood until the other more important work is completed...' (McLeay, 1835 in Mitchell, 1856).

John Edward Newell Bull was born in 1806 in Athlone, Ireland. He joined the 78th Regiment aged 19, and went with them to Ceylon where he married Mary Gunn, the daughter of the regimental paymaster, in 1830. After returning to England he was promoted to Captain, transferred to the 99th Regiment in 1842 and sailed for Sydney. Almost immediately he was appointed assistant engineer and superintendent of road-gangs on the Western Road from Emu Plains to Bathurst. In command of about 60 men of the regiment he established his headquarters first at the convict camp at Twenty Mile Hollow, where his seventh child, Frederick Ewen Bull, was born in 1843. In 1849, when the stockade at Blackheath was closed and road gangs were finally abolished, Captain Bull was engaged for some time in work on the breakwater at Newcastle. He was subsequently appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands in Victoria and supervised the establishment of the town of Castlemaine. John Bull died at his daughter Catherine's home, "Varroville", near Goulburn in 1901. His wife Mary also died at "Varroville" in 1906.

A convict Stockade (or roadside station) was established at Bull’s Camp, Woodford, remaining in use until 1844 when the gang was transferred to a new site at Blackheath. In January 1844 Bull wrote to the Colonial Secretary that 'very little of the Materials of this Stockade can be removed especially the Iron Gang Boxes they are in such a dilapidated State, Some of them being upwards of nine Years in Use & the Bottom Timbers are rotten…'. By July 1844 Bull had relocated to Blackheath leaving a soldier and a prisoner to protect the premises at Twenty Mile Hollow from 'being destroyed by the Bullock Drivers etc, which had been the case with other Government Buildings'. (Lavelle, 1992 and Lavelle, 1993).

The fate of the remaining stockade buildings is unknown, although typical practice was for surplus assets to be sold off. Allan Searle discusses the fate of the building identified as the 'Government Stone Hut' at Twenty Mile Hollow which was situated on Portion 2 Parish of Linden, and suggests this may have been the commandant's residence (Searle, 1987: 27-28). After the break-up of the stockade the Bull's Camp site was apparently vacant until it was used as a camp by railway gangers during the initial construction of the Great Western Railway through the area in the 1860s, becoming a short-lived 'tent town'. Bailliere’s Gazetteer of 1866 describes 'Bull's Camp' as a postal village with an Inn, police station and a population of over 300 people, apparently including both the camp itself and the nearby early settlement now Woodford (Bailliere, 94-5)

Once the railway workers moved on from the area there appears to have been no further occupation of the Bull's Camp site. A proposal for the reserve to become public open space was first suggested in 1876. Shortly after, Reserve No. 38 of 50 acres was set aside for public purposes. In 1916 it was notified as a Reserve for Water Supply. In 1925 control of the Reserve for Public Recreation passed to the Blue Mountains Shire (now City) Council. (Searle, 1987: 25-26).

A 1915 railway survey plan of the area from Linden to Woodford records several features in and around Bull's Camp, including some convict-built masonry walling, the two rock-cut 'dark cells' and the 'flogging stone'. The same plan also identifies the 'Site of Commandant's Residence' [in the area where the stone wall footings are situated] and identifies 'Graves of Soldiers' some distance away in the scrub to the west of the clearing. Other annotations on the same map are clearly erroneous, for example a comment that both Bull's Bath and Bull's Chair have been destroyed by recent railway deviation works. The notations on the map, however, indicate that the associations of the area with the stockade and with surviving relics of the convict era were strongly established by this time. By the 1920s the oral traditions which have come to be associated with the site begin to be recorded in newspaper articles and by those such as Frank Walker associated with the early Royal Australian Historical Society, who recorded notes about the area in his private scrapbooks about the Western Road (also see JRAHS, Vol. 9). In the 1930s the Bull's Camp area was again subject to transitory occupation by swagmen heading west over the mountains in search of work during the Great Depression.

The waterhole in the northeast part of the reserve was created in 1902 by excavation of material to form the ramped approaches to the new overbridge which replaced the single line level crossing. The 1902 overbridge was recently demolished by the Roads and Traffic Authority in 2003. During the Woodford Bends highway reconstruction project (1992-1994) a section of convict built wall and culvert was relocated to the front of the Bull's Camp Reserve to support the batter for the new highway.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Bull's Camp Reserve has significant historic associations with the early European occupation of the Blue Mountains and the Linden to Woodford area in particular, being the site of a convict stockade established in 1835. The stockade was one of a series established during the 'Great Roads' period from the 1820s to 1830s when convict gangs were utilised to complete major road lines extending to the north, west and south of Sydney. The camp was again utilised during the railway building phase through the Blue Mountains during the 1860s.

As a roadside Stockade established during the mid-1830s the Bull's Camp site is associated with the Governor Sir Richard Bourke and with the Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell. The site has also become associated with John Edward Newell Bull, who was the commandant of the Twenty Mile Hollow Stockade for nine years before being transferred along with the road gang to a new stockade established at Blackheath in 1844.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Bull's Camp has a long tradition in the Mountains of a landmark site. Much of the folklore surrounding the site developed during the early twentieth century and was first recorded by Frank Walker and others associated with the early Royal Australian Historical Society. The site is still in use as a camping ground and stopping place beside the main road.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Convict Stockade sites are significant for their archaeological potential. The archaeological evidence likely to be contained within convict stockade sites has important scientific and research value. Specific convict stockade sites have been little studied to date and none have been subject to fully comprehensive archaeological investigation or competent excavation. The types of questions which might be investigated by adequate programs include for example: the lifestyle, living conditions and material culture of road-gang convicts.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Documented and identified roadside convict camp sites are relatively rare. Only a few intact stockade sites are known for each of the 1830s 'Great Roads' in NSW.
Integrity/Intactness: Compromised
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Threats include vandalism, damage to relics and inappropriate uses. Passive recreation uses are appropriate. The archaeological resources of this site have never been adequately investigated and should be conserved in-situ. As the site is not directly threatened the archaeology should be left intact and undisturbed for the future. All impacts should be assessed. Some appropriate on-site interpretation is desirable to explain the history and significance of the area to visitors.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLEP1991LD01027 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study LD010   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983LD010Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992LD010Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003LD010Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisIJ, SL Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008LD010Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAllan E Searle1980Historic Woodford and Linden
WrittenIsobel Kendall Bowden1963Linden to Woodford: the most historic three miles of the Blue Mountains Road, NSW
WrittenNSW Railways1915Tracing from Working Plan between Linden and Woodford
WrittenR P Whitworth1866Bailliere's NSW Gazetteer and Road Guide
WrittenSiobhan Lavelle1996Historical Archaeological and Heritage Sites survey and assessment, Great Western Highway Reconstruction, Tollgate Drive Section, Linden, NSW, October
WrittenSiobhan Lavelle1993Historical Archaeological Assessment, Site of the Blackheath Stockade, June
WrittenSiobhan Lavelle1992Report on an archaelogical monitoring of ground disturbance, Bulls Camp Reserve, Woodford, October
WrittenThomas Mitchell1856Report on the progress made in roads and in the construction of public works in NSW from 1827 to June 1856
WrittenThomas Mitchell1834Report to Governor Bourke on the works along the Western Road, 12 August
WrittenWendy Thorp1989Historical and Archaelogical Assessment, Bulls Camp site, circa

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1170710


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