The Great North Road. Wealthy settlers of the Hunter Valley petition Governor Ralph Darling to survey a fit place and direction for a Road from Parramatta to Hunters River. By mid-1820s, most of the good land around Sydney and out to the west is taken up. Between Sydney and the Hunter River is a maze of sandstone mountains with deep gorges and razor-back ridges that end suddenly in towering bluffs. Settlers swim their stock over the Hawkesbury River and make their way along rugged creeks. Thousands of convicts are employed to build the Great North Road over nearly 10 years. Construction commences with a workforce of 63 men at Castle Hill. The majority are convicts in chain gangs.