History of Yester

This brief history covers the story of Yester Grange from the earliest explorers back in 1788 through to present day. We hope you will enjoy the results of our research, investment and commitment to preserving this wonderful landmark.

Some visitors may have been here in years gone by and have interesting stories to share with us. Others may help us add to the history of the house and estate ( there is always something new to learn! ) - we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please contact us via email if you notice anything which needs correction or addition.

The Blue Mountains - 1788

Wentworth Falls Waterfall

The house and the estate are surrounded by the magical and mystical Blue Mountains - now listed as a World Heritage Area. Before the arrival of the Europeans the original inhabitants of this beautiful place were the Gundungurra Aborigines of the great valleys to the south and the Dharug Aborigines of the Cumberland Plain to the east.

Evidence of their occupation may be seen throughout the mountains - there are many tool-sharpening grooves and also rock engravings and stencils. Radio carbon dating from excavated sites shows that some caves were occupied by them 22,000 years ago.

Augustus Earle (1793-1838)
'Waterfall in Australia' ca.1830
Rex Nan Kivell Collection
By permission of the
National Library of Australia

First contact with the original inhabitants was probably made with the Dharug people in 1788 by Governor Arthur Phillip on his first exploration of the Hawkesbury River.

Over the next twenty five years settlements began to appear at the foot of the Blue Mountains along the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers and many expeditions tried to find a way over this barrier to what was thought might be an inland paradise or an inland sea. Several attempts were made over the years to cross the mountains following the rivers and creeks but they all failed due to the huge vertical cliffs at the end of the valleys.

On 11th May 1813 three explorers, Gregory Blaxland - a wealthy free settler, William Lawson - a soldier-farmer and experienced surveyor and young William Charles Wentworth (who later led the movement for self-government in New South Wales) set out with four convict servants, five dogs and four horses to find a way across the mountains by staying on the tops of the ridges.

By 28th May they had reached Mount York, just beyond the present township of Mount Victoria, and had sighted the open plains on the other side. Settlement of the mountains and the inland had begun.