Proving impermeable to colonial explorers for decades, early journeys into the Blue Mountains were undertaken by Governor Philip (1738-1814), Lieutenant William Dawes (1762-1836) and, Captain William Paterson (1755-1810), who traveled with a party of Scottish Highlanders in tow.
Naturalist and collector on behalf of Joseph Banks, George Caley (1770-1829) was one of the first to make any real progress in 1804, but his successes were for the most part fleeting. The nature of the terrain was confusing and every time he thought he had made some headway, the misty mountains seemed to have "moved".
Although ultimately unsuccessful at finding a passage through the Mountains, Caley kept a meticulous diary that included compass bearings and detailed descriptions of the vegetation he encountered, which he then sent to Banks. This journal and some of Caley’s specimens are now held in the collections of the British Museum of Natural History.
Driven largely by a voracious appetite for land suitable for farming, Governor King (1773-1837) declared the area "confused and barren" and "as chimerical as useless" as a result of his disappointment while reading Caley’s report of an unsuccessful journey. It is unclear whether Caley’s faster progress along the ridges of the area was communicated to others at the time, but this is also the method suggested by Gregory Blaxland (1778-1853), William Lawson (1774-1850), and William Charles Wentworth (1790-1872), who successfully blazed a trail to the peak of what is now known as Blaxland Mountain in 1813.