Gregory Blaxland

Blaxland Wine Group - Gregory BlaxlandGregory Blaxland (17 June 1778 – 1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and explorer in Australia, noted for initiating and co-leading the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers.

The government at the time promised them land, convict servants and free passages, in accord with its policy of encouraging ‘settlers of responsibility and capital’. September 1805 with his wife, three children, two servants, an overseer, a few sheep, seed, bees, tools, groceries and clothing. When he reached Sydney he sold many of these goods very profitably, bought eighty head of cattle so as to enter the meat trade, located 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of land.

In 1813, he led the first known European expedition across the area of the Great Dividing Range known as the Blue Mountains, along with William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth, on a journey which would open up the inland of the continent. Blaxland is also noted as one of the first settlers to plant grapes for wine-making purposes. He was engaged during the next few years in wine-making. He had brought vines from the Cape of Good Hope, found a species resistant to blight, took a sample of his wine to London in 1822 and won a silver medal for it. While in England he published his “A Journal of a Tour of Discovery Across the Blue Mountains in New South Wales” (London, 1823.)

He successfully petitioned the Colonial Office for a drawback on the import duty on brandy imported into the colony and ‘actually used in the manufacture of wine’. Always a man of moody and mercurial character, Blaxland devoted his colonial activities almost entirely to the pursuit of his agricultural and viticultural interests. He suffered great personal loss with the early and untimely deaths of his second son, youngest son and wife along with others quite close to him in rapid succession, which bore very heavily on his heart. He committed suicide on 1 January 1853 in New South Wales.

He is buried in All Saints Cemetery in Parramatta. He has been recognised in name by the township of Blaxland in the Blue Mountains, as is the Australian Electoral Division of Blaxland and Blaxland Creek. In 1963 he was honoured, together with Lawson and Wentworth, on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post depicting the Blue Mountains crossing.