Cobb & Co Heritage Trail Bathurst to Bourke
By Diane de St Hilaire Simmonds
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cobb and co old housecobb and co coaches

The Gold Rush and Cobb & Co P.3

cobb and co route map in the mudgee region

Photo at right is an old mud map of the  Cobb & Co routes in the Mudgee region, courtesy of David Rutherford of the famous Cobb & Co Rutherford family.
Zoom to 200% to have a good look at the map.
See full details of the local routes  in the following pages.

Mudgee’s Cobb & Co Story

Denison Town,which had a Post Office and butcher combined, a hotel, with another hotel across the road. A police station was the other side of the cemetery. ‘King Lattimer’ is said to have owned the hotel. He had four daughters and was such a bad alcoholic he used to smash the tops off the bottles in his haste to down them, according to folklore. The daughters heights are marked on one of the walls of the house, and a bullet hole is in one of the doors. The slab stables have been pulled down now. They originally had a dance hall above them. The stables were used as a shearing shed before they were torn down as well. There is still the original water dome behind the present day house. When the tank was built, according to folklore, one of the three builders played the violin while the other two danced on the floor of the tank. It is said to hold 100,000 gallons. The original cemetery is also there, said to contain about 70 graves.


The Upper Botobolar people got their mail via Cooyal, the mailman carried the mail on horseback between Cooyal Post Office, which is still standing and used as a residence today, and Upper Botobolar twice a week. The postman rode over the hill, down past Kemp’s Valley and Kain’s Flat, collecting and delivering mail to all the mail boxes along the route.


The Sunday Times, December 19, 1920, p18 has stories of the Cobb & Co coaching days, including the story of the Mudgee to Wallerawang Mail Coach being stuck up at Aaron’s Pass, six miles from Cunningham’s Creek on May 29, 1874.
Stoney Pinch is where the dam wall is now, in the picnic area.
In 1840 the Sydney Mail reported ‘Opossum Jack’, ‘Blue Cap’ and two others were operating in the Mudgee district.
August 31, 1840 Mr Blackman, the lock-up keeper and others robbed on their way from Mudgee to Bathurst.
1844 bushrangers McIntyre and Rourke held up the mail at Stony Pinch. Rourke was subsequently shot and killed by police.  (Continued on next page)



james watsford driver of cobb and co coaches, royal mail pioneer    


James Watsford, Royal Mail pioneer, who owned the first stagecoach in Australia, carried the first regular mail from Parramatta to Sydney and is famous for his  incredible descent of Mt York. Photo courtesy of Mr David Rutherford of the famous Cobb & Co Rutherford family.

James Watsford arrived in Australia in the Guildford in 1812, transported for life for horse-stealing. He was converted to Wesleyanism by Rev. S. Leigh, and was pardoned in 1826. Watsford became coachman to H. H. Macarthur, but set up on his own as one of the first royal mail coachmen in New South Wales. He was married to Jane, nee Johns.

On 6th April, 1832, Watsford pioneered the first mail coach run from Parramatta to Bathurst via Penrith and Collit’s Inn, at the foot of Mt York in the Hartley Valley.
The mail route over the Blue Mountains followed from there.
He came to the ridge of Mt York at nightfall, and the passengers and horses rested while he prepared the coach for its incredible 1060 metres downward plunge by attaching logs to drag behind the coach and slow it down.
Then, in the dark and mist, probably to let the passengers see as little as possible, down he went, down Lawson’s Long Alley to the Vale of Clwydd, reviving all at Collit’s Inn below.
The next day the famous coach driver continued along Cox’s road through O”Connell Plains to Bathurst.
For more information on the first descent: Click here.

Lynne Robinson of Mudgee Museum gives the following information:

I found the following  presuming your James Watsford died in 1845, he is buried in the Methodist cemetery (now a park in North Parramatta) but which has a plaque with all names compiled from various registers. The cemetery index allows you to see the plaque.

I have also included another couple of sites you may want to look at. The Dictionary of Biography has entry for Rev  John Watsford James’ son.

The obit and the memorial photo on the trove site which also has other interesting entries.

Good luck with you research – there will be much interest next year being 200th aniv of the Blue Mountains Crossing

Kind regards





16 Oct 1900

Parramatta: Methodist


Alice H

12 Oct 1869


dau/Henry & Sarah

Parramatta: St John's


Arthur Clyde

7 Oct 1869


son/Henry & Sarah

Parramatta: St John's


Charlotte Emily

3 Nov 1878


dau/Henry & Sarah

Parramatta: St John's



2 May 1885


dau/George & Mary

Parramatta: Methodist



11 Jun 1845


h/Jane; father

Parramatta: Methodist



26 Oct 1844


son/James & Jane

Parramatta: Methodist



10 May 1882


dau/John & Catherine; w/James; mother

Parramatta: Methodist


Memorial to James Watsford, Mount York

SMH11/6/1845 On Sunday, the 8th instant, at his residence, Church-street, Parramatta, after a lingering illness of three years and six months, Mr. James Watsford, in his 58th year, twenty-four   years coach proprietor in that town.




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Cobb and Co, rides at night

Cobb & Co and the Gold Rush in the Mudgee region 
A tourist trail CD and fully illustrated local history book soon available.




 The incredible James Watsford descent of Mt York can still be seen today:


A very rough descent down Mt York

The road is incredibly rocky, with huge boulders lining the way.

It's a very long way from the top to the bottom and the drop over the cliff tops would be fatal.

No, not this way. The edge is too near.

Signs at the lookout today speak of the original steep road and Watsford's incredible descent.

One of the two original watering holes for the horses at the top of the descent. The two waterholes still remain today.

More of the rocky descent.