Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Linden, Linden Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Linden, Linden Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Linden, Linden Precinct
Other name/s: Old Bathurst Road, Coxs Road
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road
Location: Lat: -33.71899665 Long: 150.49350946
Primary address: Railway Parade (off), Linden, NSW 2778
Parish: Woodford
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT68 DP12697
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Railway Parade (off)LindenBlue Mountains WoodfordCookPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The surviving remnants of Cox's Road, built 1814 to 1815, have state significance as the earliest road across the Blue Mountains and the first structure built by Europeans west of the Blue Mountains. Building of this road followed from the prior exploration by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth, and the survey by George Evans. The successful construction of the road was symbolic of the conquest of the natural barrier created by the Blue Mountains, and represented Governor Macquarie's vision for the ongoing development of the colony beyond Sydney and its immediate surrounds. Cox's Road enabled the later opening of the hinterland beyond the Blue Mountains for subsequent settlement, pastoral and agricultural expansion, which then escalated the dispossession of Aboriginal peoples from their lands.

William Cox was well known among convicts for his power to recommend pardons and tickets of leave. Most of the convicts who volunteered for the work to open a track to the interior were emancipated, receiving Pardons or Tickets of Leave on completion of the work.

The surviving road fabric demonstrates the crude and hurried nature of Cox's work, and the techniques used in tracing, cutting and forming the road. In conjunction with later colonial road alignments on the mountains and elsewhere, Cox's Road also forms part of a suite of roads demonstrating the wide range of road building styles and standards employed during the colonial period.
Date significance updated: 27 Jan 15
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.


Designer/Maker: William Cox
Builder/Maker: William Cox; Convict Road Party
Construction years: 1814-
Physical description: William Cox had been instructed by Governor Macquarie only to open a rough cart road, so that the new lands found in the western plains would be symbolically open. The road from Emu Ford to Bathurst, a distance of 101 miles [163 kilometres] was completed in only six months. Macquarie's instructions specified that the road should be at least 12 feet (3.6 metres) wide in order that two carts would be able to pass each other, and that the timber should be cleared on each side so that the road corridor was 20 feet (6.1 metres) wide. Stumps were to be grubbed out and any holes should be filled in. This was the method adopted in relatively easy terrain, although later travellers reported that the stumps had not always been removed and the surviving physical evidence shows relatively few locations where the extant road conforms with the dimensions specified in the instructions.

The Tollgate Drive section of Cox's Road is the first of the more intact surviving sections of the 1814 road which are encountered within the Blue Mountains LGA. The 1814 road occupies the crest of the ridge. It extends for over 800 metres beside and overlapping with an unsurfaced access road along the top of the ridge and also partly within adjoining private properties. The modern roughly formed vehicular access track with some subsidiary diversions, leads off Tollgate Drive/Railway Parade. The modern unsurfaced tracks themselves cross, and in some places partly overlie, the earlier Cox's Road formation.

The western end of the access track commences at Railway Parade where it climbs a short steep rise surfaced with loose stones. Where there are rocky outcrops beside the road it features several sections of low hand-cut gutters and kerb-lines. (loc: -33.719733,150.49315). The cuttings are between 10 and 60 cm in height and where they mark both sides of the road they are 6 to 7 metres apart, roughly conforming with Governor Macquarie's requested width of '20 feet'.
Most of the cuttings have vertical faces and feature sharp pointed marks indicating the use of chisels or pick-axes during construction. Other marks suggest the use of a long round iron spike which makes marks 2cm in diameter and 15cm long (ie 1 inch by 6 inches). A small section of rock-cut drain measuring 20 cm wide and 1.5 metres long is also evident. In several places the low kerb cuttings adjoin sections of rock platform. These have generally been cut and smoothed at the edge of the road but in the centre remain very uneven, with natural cracks and crevices and evidence of deeply scored ruts made by the wheels of carts or other vehicles.

From the ridge there are extensive views on both sides of the road which conform with those described by early travellers, giving a sense of the experience of the early 19th century road even though the surrounding area has been recently subdivided and developed for residential house blocks.

The proposed State Heritage Register listing of Cox's Road and Early Deviations includes six precincts of Cox's Road:

Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Linden, Linden Precinct - HC Plan 2639
Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Woodford, Old Bathurst Road Precinct - HC Plan 2640
Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Woodford, Appian Way Precinct - HC Plan 2641
Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Mount York , Cox's Pass Precinct - HC Plan 2642
Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Hartley, Clarence Hilly Range / Mount Blaxland Precinct - HC Plan 2643
Cox's Road and Early Deviations - Sodwalls, Fish River Descent Precinct - HC Plan 2644
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good. Substantially intact. Numerous archaeological features from the 1814 road are evident including road fabric, gutters, cuttings.
Date condition updated:30 Oct 14
Current use: Road and Fire Trail
Former use: Road


Historical notes: The road from Emu Ford to Bathurst, a distance of 101 1/2 miles [163 kilometres] was completed in only six months during 1814 and 1815 by a working party comprised mostly of convicts. Governor Lachlan Macquarie decided to have a carriage road constructed across the Blue Mountains, to the country which had been 'newly discovered' by Europeans in 1813.

The so called 'First Crossing' of 1813 took place on the traditional lands of the Dharug, Gundungurra and Wiradjuri people. Other routes through the ridges and valleys of the Blue Mountains had been used by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years.

William Cox was born in Wimborne Minster, Dorset in 1764. He married Rebecca Upjohn at Devizes, Wiltshire in 1789. Cox arrived in NSW on board the 'Minerva' in January 1800. Cox became Chief Magistrate at Windsor in 1810 and in July 1814 Governor Macquarie made William Cox the Superintendent of the works for a new road over the Blue Mountains. His first wife died in 1819 and Cox married Anna Blachford in 1821. He died on 15 March 1837.

Cox's road party reached the Linden area by late August 1814, and remained at Linden - Woodford until around mid-September 1814, by which time they had moved on to the present day vicinity of Hazelbrook. It was the first time they encountered the steep rocky platforms, and the ever-narrowing ridge. Cox's style of road-building was pragmatic and primitive. Confronted with rocky platforms and sharp drops, he generally had his men clear the flattest parts, removing an 'immense quantity of rock' where necessary, and usually marking out the line with shallow chiselled gutters and utilising the rock platform as a pavement; where the road ran over the shallow soils, it was often marked out by rows or low walls of rough, broken stone.

The road was cut past 'Caley's' cairn of stones, built, it was thought, to mark the end of an earlier unsuccessful attempt to cross the mountains, but possibly a structure of Aboriginal origin. (S Lavelle, 'Caley's Repulse: Explorations in Desire' pp 174 - 185 in Fresh Cuts: New Talents 2001, Journal of Australian Studies No. 67, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, QLD, 2001).

The actual construction and completion of the road is recorded in Cox's Journal. The journal indicates that three areas in particular required extensive cutting through rocky outcrops, an activity especially likely to have left an 'archaeological imprint' in the form of surviving physical evidence. These areas were Linden to Woodford, Wentworth Falls and the descent at Mount York. Entries in the journal indicate that the road party reached the Linden area at the end of August and constructed the road through the localities of Linden and Woodford during the first half of September, 1814. (Cox's Journal 28 August to 13 September 1814).

Cox wrote describing the Linden - Woodford area as follows:

' Sunday 4 September
Removed to the bridge the working road gang. Removed forward to Caley's pile. No water for stock near the bridge, nor a blade of grass. The water we get is near a mile distant, and that in a tremendous gully to the right. Went forward to Caley's pile, and from thence up the rock to Evans' cave. You get a view of the country from north-west round to south and SSW as far as the eye can carry you from hence. The land to the west is still higher. The country to the northward appears extremely hilly with nothing but rocks and timber. To the east there appears much level country. Windsor and various parts of cleared land is seen from hence'.
(Cox's journal, C708-2, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, digitised at: ; also 'Memoirs of William Cox, JP', William Brooks and Co, 1901; and A H C Whitaker, William Cox and Cox's Road: A Bicentenary Souvenir, 2014: Chapter 4).

The actual building of the road involved the definition of a trafficable route which was then cleared of vegetation (trees being cut-off below ground level but rarely "grubbed out"), boulders and rocky outcrops. The formation of the road itself was as minimal as the terrain allowed, with low side-cuttings and embankments as necessary. In very rocky terrain cuttings were made into the mountain itself, the natural rock providing the road surface or pavement. It is possible that some of the stepped rock platforms may have initially been partly filled or levelled with earthern ramps, although Karskens (1988) suggests that Cox mostly left the road pavement in an unformed, natural state due to the haste with which the road was being constructed.

Even if it was initially partly filled or shaped, much of the original surface of the road weathered away quickly, as by 1819 it was reported that the stumps of the trees which had been left within the roadway were becoming exposed.

Well preserved sections and other scattered remnants of Cox's Road survive in the Linden and Woodford areas. These include isolated remnants such as single gutters and wedge-pits in the vicinity of the Linden Railway Station and near the Linden Reservoir (above Numantia Road). Neither of these sections is within this SHR Listing. There is also a well preserved section of Cox's Road which commences immediately west of the Hepburn Road and Great Western Highway intersection and continues west along Old Bathurst Road at Woodford (see separate SHR Listing entry for- Cox's Road - Woodford, Old Bathurst Road Precinct).

Although the original line of Cox's Road crossed Tollgate Drive, the railway line and the Great Western Highway beyond the western end of the unsurfaced track at Railway Parade, Linden, construction activity has been intensive and no remnants of the road exist in this location.

From the 1820s onwards, the earlier lines of road were upgraded and although short sections of Cox's Road were later adopted as parts of the local road network (eg. part of Burke Road, Linden and Old Bathurst Road, Woodford) most of the original Cox's Road appears to have gradually gone out of use in the Linden area during the 1830s

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 Convict labour-
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 Road-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working with hand tools and implements-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Colonial government-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Surviving remnants of Cox's Road have state historical significance as physical evidence of the first road constructed across the Blue Mountains from Emu Plains to the Bathurst Plains (1814-15). Constructed in 1814-15 Cox's Road is one of the earliest Colonial-era road-lines surviving in Australia. The 1814 road is tangible evidence of the development of the colony at Sydney and of the expansion of white settlement into western NSW. The road symbolises the occupation of the country and Governor Macquarie's aspirations for the eventual opening of the interior to European settlement after the discovery of the Western plains by G W Evans in 1814. In this respect the 1814-1815 Cox's Road has considerable symbolic significance as an official public work which laid the foundations for future development. Cox's Road is linked with the foundation of Bathurst, the first inland settlement in NSW, which was proclaimed by Governor Macquarie on 7 May 1815 after his journey along the road.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The surviving remnants of Cox's Road have state significance for their close association with Governor Lachlan Macquarie who commissioned the building of the road into the interior, and with the magistrate and ex-army officer Captain William Cox, who supervised the building of the road. The road is also associated with the convicts who laboured on the road to obtain their liberty, and with the officers and men who assisted Cox such as Thomas Hobby, Richard Lewis, John Tighe and Samuel Ayres. The crossing of the Blue Mountains, the surveying of a route to Bathurst and the building of Cox's Road were significant events in the period of Macquarie's governorship. Governor Macquarie's view of the importance of the road is demonstrated by his reports to Earl Bathurst, the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and by his journey to the Bathurst Plains immediately after its construction, where he proclaimed the site for the Bathurst township.

William Cox's achievement using a small group of convict men in a short period of time and with no loss of life caused by road-making or other substantial difficulties, was reflective of his reputation as a more humane employer and magistrate than many of his contemporaries. The leadership qualities, vision and skill he showed constructing the road would also be evident in later government contracts won by Cox for other public works .
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The surviving precincts of Cox's Road have state technical significance for their ability to demonstrate simple, pre 1820s road building techniques. Improvement of the 1814 route throughout the 1820s also provide important evidence of later road building techniques and demonstrates the ongoing use of this key route to the interior, before it was superseded by the new Great Western Road laid out by Sir Thomas Mitchell in the 1830s.

The Linden - Tollgate Drive/Railway Parade Precinct of Cox's Road is one of the more intact surviving sections of the 1814 road. It extends for over 800 metres beside and overlapping with an unsurfaced access road along the top of the ridge. From the ridge there are extensive views on both sides of the road which conform with those described by early travellers, giving a sense of the experience of the early nineteenth-century road even though the surrounding area has been recently subdivided and developed for residential house blocks.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Cox's Road and its remnants are demonstrated as having social significance at a state level by the substantial interest in identifying and promoting Cox's Road for cultural tourism and education, and celebrating the bicentenary of the road by the general public, state and local government bodies and a range of community organisations. The road is of particular importance to Cox descendants. The William Cox Fellowship first nominated sections of Cox's Road for heritage listing in the 1980s.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Precincts of Cox's Road have research significance at a state level for their ability to demonstrate early nineteenth century road, culvert and bridge building techniques using basic skills and technologies. The remains of the 1814-15 road illustrate the conditions of the period and contribute to an understanding of the process of exploration and development, and of early colonial road building and road use. The remains represent a major physical, technological and engineering achievement and exhibit fine details of workmanship. Several precincts of the 1814-15 road have specific archaeological potential.
SHR Criteria f)
Surviving precincts of the 1814-1815 Cox's Road from Penrith to Bathurst are rare examples of early Colonial road building in NSW. The surviving remnants of Cox's Road have state significance as a rare example of pre 1820 road building based on the use of manual and primitive tools, and predating the more sophisticated road survey and construction techniques employed on the later 'Great Roads' of the 1820s and 1830s.
Integrity/Intactness: High integrity.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977


Cox’s Road and Early Deviations -- Linden, Linden Precinct

SHR No. 1953

I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule "C" by the owner, mortgagee or lessee of the land described in Schedule "B" on the item described in Schedule "A".

The Hon Mark Speakman SC MP
Minister for Heritage

Dated at Sydney, 23 Day of July 2015


The item known as Cox’s Road and Early Deviations -- Linden, Linden Precinct, situated on the land described in Schedule "B".


All those pieces or parcels of land known as Crown Land, Part Lot 68 DP 12697 and Part Lot B DP 411810 in Parish of Woodford, County of Cook shown on the plan catalogued HC 2639 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.


1. Maintenance and Restoration
The maintenance of Cox’s Road and Early Deviations to retain its condition or operation without the removal of or damage to the existing fabric or the introduction of incompatible new materials.
a. Restoration of Cox’s Road and Early Deviations by returning significant fabric to a known earlier location without the introduction of new material.
b. Restoration of Cox’s Road and Early Deviations without the introduction of new material to reveal a known earlier configuration by removing accretions or reassembling existing components which does not adversely affect the heritage significance of the item.
c. Maintenance and minor repairs necessary to preserve and maintain the functioning of Cox’s Road and Early Deviations, especially where it remains in use as a local road or access corridor, including pavement resurfacing (using existing or compatible replacement materials, but not new modern materials); maintenance of historic roadside kerbing; maintenance and repair of historic roadside walling; traffic management; relocation and maintenance of existing signage.

Note: Maintenance means 'the continuous protective care of the fabric and setting of a place'

2. Repairs, including to services
a. Repairs and activities associated with the maintenance and repair of existing services and public utilities including communications, gas, electricity, water supply, waste disposal, sewerage, irrigation and drainage that are situated within Cox’s Road and Early Deviations precincts. This includes replacement of poles, stay poles, wires and associated items where the same locations and fixing points will be reused.
b. The repair (such as refixing and patching) or the replacement of missing, damaged or deteriorated fabric that is beyond further maintenance, which matches the existing fabric in appearance, material and method of affixing or installation and does not involve damage to or the removal of significant fabric.

3. Works
a. The carrying out of road work or traffic control work, within the meaning of the Roads Act 1993, within the road corridor and surrounding land that is required for associated works and infrastructure.
b. Ongoing current operational works and maintenance activities along Cox’s Road and Early Deviations precincts currently carried out by Local Government or other authorities, such as:
• road side vegetation management including vegetation trimming, tree trimming and/or removal (if required for road safety/traffic hazard);
• stormwater drainage works such as shoulder and pit clearing;
• road repairs such as pot hole patching and road sweeping;
• provision of necessary delineation such as guide posts and traffic signage;
• access controls, drainage and erosion control;
• vegetation and bushfire management;
where such works cause little or no impact on existing heritage fabric.
c. Temporary works, not exceeding 12 months, including containment areas, or scaffolding, other works and enclosures necessary for the carrying out of maintenance or enhancement works for Cox’s Road and Early Deviations.
d. Minor works that do not alter the overall form or appearance of the Cox’s Road and Early Deviations.
e. Installation of new access points such as property driveway openings, where made in accordance with the Roads Act 1993 and where such works including new access construction, driveway design and levels would not require the removal of historic Cox’s Road and Early Deviations pavement or other historic road fabric.

4. Signage
a. Installation of new way finding or interpretative signage or relocation of existing signs, except where these are commercial signs, modular sign structures, cantilever sign structures, or signage over 2 square metres in size.
b. Display of any notice on the land for the purpose of site interpretation and/or public information where disturbance of land associated with this activity would not adversely affect any significant archaeology including (but not limited to) original road fabric, historic infrastructure or services and 'relics' within the meaning of the Heritage Act 1977.

5. Excavation
a. The excavation or disturbance of land that will have a nil or minor impact on archaeological relics including the testing of land to verify the existence of relics without destroying or removing them, where:
i. an archaeological assessment, zoning plan or management plan has been prepared in accordance with Guidelines endorsed by the Heritage Council of NSW which indicates that the land is unlikely to contain relics or deposits (of State or local heritage significance) and/or
ii. evidence relating to the history or nature of the site, such as its level of disturbance, indicates that the site has little or no archaeological research potential.
b. The excavation or disturbance of land is for the purpose of exposing underground utility services or communications infrastructure which occurs within an existing service trench and will not affect any relics.
c. The excavation or disturbance of land is to expose survey marks for use in conducting a land survey.

Note: Should archaeological relics or deposits be uncovered all work must cease in the immediate area. A suitably qualified and experienced archaeologist must be contacted to assess the archaeology and the Heritage Council should be informed immediately.

6. Landscape Maintenance
a. All landscaping, gardening and fencing works associated with the ongoing use of the land for domestic, pastoral and agricultural purposes, excluding any works that may materially affect the significance of the item or disturb archaeological relics.
b. Weeding, watering, mowing, top-dressing, pest control and fertilizing necessary for the continued health of plants, without damage or major alterations to layout, contours, plant species or other significant landscape features.
c. Pruning (to control size, improve shape, flowering or fruiting and the removal of diseased, dead or dangerous material) between 10% and 30% of the canopy of a tree within a period of 2 years.
d. Removal of dead or dying trees which are to be replaced by trees of the same species in the same location.
e. Tree surgery by a qualified arborist, horticulturist or tree surgeon necessary for the health of those plants.

7. Farming
All activities associated with the ongoing use of the land for domestic, pastoral and agricultural purposes, including road maintenance and fencing but excluding any new development or construction that would materially affect the significance of the item.

8. Safety and Security
a. The erection of temporary security fencing, scaffolding, hoardings or surveillance systems to prevent unauthorised access or secure public safety which will not adversely affect significant fabric of the Cox’s Road and Early Deviations including landscape or archaeological features of its curtilage.
b. Emergency stabilisation, erosion control, hazard reduction or bushfire prevention works, necessary to secure safety where Cox’s Road and Early Deviations precincts have been damaged or destabilised and there exists a safety risk to users or the public.

9. Bushfire Prevention
To permit the undertaking of fire prevention works in accordance with a Local Council, NPWS or Rural Fire Services approved Fire Management Plan for any Cox’s Road and Early Deviations precinct. This includes works relating to hazard reduction, reduce vulnerability, maintain defendable space and protect, maintain and enhance the biodiversity and ecological values of any relevant Cox’s Road and Early Deviations precincts or adjoining land Reserves.

10. Minor Development Endorsed by the Heritage Council of NSW
Minor development specifically identified as exempt development by a conservation policy or strategy within a conservation management plan or a conservation management strategy which has been endorsed by the Heritage Council of NSW, where such work would not materially impact on heritage significance.
Jul 31 2015

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0195331 Jul 15 642267

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenA H C Whitaker2014William Cox and Cox’s Road: A Bicentenary Souvenir
WrittenG.Karskens1988‘Cox’s Way: An Historical and Archaeological Study of Cox’s Road and Early Crossings of the Blue Mountains, NSW’
WrittenG.Mackaness1965Fourteen Journeys Over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales 1813-1841
WrittenS.Lavelle2001‘Caley’s Repulse: Explorations in Desire’ in Fresh Cuts: New Talents 2001, Journal of Australian Studies No. 67
WrittenW.Cox1901Memoirs of William Cox, JP
WrittenW.Cox1814Journal Kept by Mr Cox in making a road across the Blue Mountains from Emu Plains to a new country discovered by Mr Evans to the Westward’ View detail

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5062552
File number: EF14/12820

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