Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
This portrait was painted in 1840 when Darwin was 31 and writing 'The Voyage of the Beagle'
On the 18th of January 1836 Charles Darwin, who became world famous many years later for his book 'The Origin of Species', crossed the Nepean River near present day Penrith on his journey over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst. His visit to Australia, as recorded in his first book 'The Voyage of the Beagle', is a fascinating glimpse of the colony at that time.
On his first night in the mountains he stopped at Weatherboard. The name of this small settlement was changed to Wentworth Falls with the coming of the railway in 1867. Darwin made numerous side trips off the main track and was probably one of the first Europeans to visit many of the wonderful valleys and waterfalls we enjoy today.
In his book Darwin wrote:
'About a mile away there is a view exceedingly well worth visiting. Following down a little valley and its tiny rill of water, an immense gulf unexpectedly opens through the trees which border the pathway, at the depth of perhaps 1500 feet. Walking on a few yards, one stands on the brink of a vast precipice, and below one sees a grand bay or gulf, for I know not what other name to give it, thickly covered with forest. The point of view is situated as if at the head of a bay, the line of cliff diverging on each side, and showing headland behind headland, as on a bold sea coast.
These cliffs are composed of horizontal strata of whitish sandstone; and are so absolutely vertical, that in many places a person standing on the edge and throwing down a stone, can see it strike the trees in the abyss below. So unbroken is the line of cliff that, in order to reach the foot of the waterfall, formed by this little stream, it is said to be necessary to go sixteen miles round. About five miles distant in front, another line of cliff extends, which thus appears completely to encircle the valley; and hence the name of bay is justified as applied to this grand amphitheatrical depression.
If we imagine a winding harbour, with its deep water surrounded by cliff-like shores, to be laid dry, and a forest to spring up on its sandy bottom, we should then have the appearance and structure here exhibited. This kind of view was to me quite novel and extremely magnificent'.
One hundred and sixty six years later we can only echo these sentiments. Standing today in the lovely grounds of the Yester Grange Estate we share all of Darwin's wonder, pleasure and enthusiasm at the magnificent vistas he enjoyed - unchanged to this day.
Charles Darwin's visit to Australia is remembered by the Darwin Walk from Wentworth Falls village down the Jamison Creek, which forms one boundary of the Yester Grange Estate, to the spectacular Wentworth Falls. Guests staying at our self contained cottages can take a leisurely stroll from their front door straight onto the historic Yester track and into the National Park.