Old Road Camp Site Visit
Old Road Camp Site Heritage Festival Walk – Jan Kofron
Saturday May 20 saw the last of the Heritage Festival walks conducted by the Convict Trail Project. Though the weather had been rainy until the morning in fact it was a beautiful warm day. Seven people met at Hawkins Lookout at 10.30am and proceeded to the Road Encampment Site 1. The site is set high above the road. This meant the convicts were near to the work and also that the settlers and passers by were unaware of the site.
We explored the 13 groupings of stone and discussed the likely usage of each. This site contains a large number of fireplaces, which suggest that the convicts individually cooked their own food. If so the site is probably pre 1828.When we looked at the site from the entrance the absence of any tree regrowth points to the large number of men who inhabited the area for some years. The workforce came from No.4 Iron Gang and No 25 Road Party and they were present from 1827 to 1832.
We then walked a little up the hill and then found our way down to Site 2. This group contains six more intact remains. The biggest grouping shows signs of clay mortar in its construction. It also has two fireplaces and may have been used by the overseer’s.
There was evidence of quarries at both sites and particularly at Site 2 the wedges where extraction had occurred was fairly obvious. Two of our number found their way down to the top of Courthouse Rock, which sits above the last curve in the road down to Wisemans Ferry.
We discussed the differences in the two structures and Liz Roberts suggested that in fact maybe the two sites contained different groups of convicts i.e. Iron Gang at one site and the Road Party at the other. In her recent research she has found references to this at other sites.
At the conclusion of the construction the stations were dismantled and the remains of the timber either sold to the local residents or sent back to stores. We are indeed fortunate to have such an undisturbed site available to provide us with some insight into the lives of the convicts working on the Great North Road. We thank Liz Roberts for her input to the morning.