Govetts Leap | State Library of New South Wales
Govetts Leap, c. 1835

Govetts Leap, c. 1835
Conrad Martens
Watercolour on grey tinted paper
Bequest of Sir William Dixson, 1952
DL PX27, f.61


My object was partly for Geology, but chiefly to get an idea of the state of the colony, & see the country
Charles Darwin to his sister, Susan, 28 January 1836

Darwin hired a guide — whose identity remains tantalisingly unknown — and they set off for Bathurst on horseback on Saturday 16 January.

The road to Penrith was busy with carriages and coaches though Darwin remarked that there were rather too many pubs. He crossed the Nepean River by commercial ferry early on Sunday morning.

The bustle of the road to Penrith was replaced by a more solitary journey interrupted by the occasional bullock-wagon piled with bales of wool.

Darwin walked along Jamison Creek at Wentworth Falls and was rewarded with an ‘extremely magnificent’ view of the Jamison Valley. He later marvelled at the even ‘more stupendous’ Govetts Leap at Blackheath.

Darwin initially speculated, correctly, that the Blue Mountains’ valleys had been formed by erosion but dismissed this as ‘preposterous’. Decades later he reverted to his initial belief.