This book has been written over a period of ten years. Bit by bit pieces of the Bucketty puzzle have been put together. There are not many people in Bucketty and Murrays Run who haven’t been involved, directly or indirectly, in this publication.
In short, it is book written by many people – the same people for whom it is written. They provided me with information, I put it together and now I present it back to them. The circle is closed.
The Aboriginal section has been checked by people from the Darkinjung Land Council, as well as by Aboriginal people from the Education Unit, and their comments have been incorporated.
The Aboriginal history was researched in 1987/88 and a source list was generated.
Initially I was concerned about the appropriateness of writing, as a European, about Aboriginal culture. I had lengthy discussions with the elders Nganyintja and Ilyatjari of one of the Pitjantjantjara groups in Angatja, South Australia; they explained that if I were to write about the Darkinjung in my own way and express my own feelings, I would be telling the ‘truth’ and would not be violating any of their Laws.
They also told me that, since there were no Darkinjung people left to look after the land and the sites, white people ‘with the right spirit’ could be custodians. In fact, the Bucketty community has built up a warm relationship over the years with the people involved in the Darkinjung Land Council – there is a sense of shared custodianship and a free exchange of cultural information.
April 2000 (update have been added to this web publication since that time)
The book (ISBN 958569746) contains over 50 pages and over 100 pictures, maps and illustrations.
Bucketty towards Mangrove Dam
The small hamlet of Bucketty in the Lower Hunter Valley is, in many ways, unique.
The land was formed 260 million years ago and the surrounding bushland contains some of the country’s most significant Aboriginal sites, including Mt Yengo. In the early 1800s pioneers settled in Murrays Run and one of the most significant roads of the colony, the 220km-long Great North Road between Sydney and Newcastle, was built using convict labour.
The current community of Bucketty (180 people) was only established in 1972, but it has already put itself on the map. It was in Bucketty that the Convict Trail Project was conceived – a major heritage initiative that manages the restoration, maintenance and promotion of the convict-built road. The community is also involved in the Wombat Rescue Project which has attracted national attention and is currently negotiating with the NPWS to self-manage the Convict Wall site that is part of the Yengo National Park. This site is a focal point for community activities, such as the Concerts under the Stars and the annual Carols by Candlelight. The community has received several awards for its various activities and initiatives.
The social and cultural history of this beautiful part of the world has been researched by local resident Paul Budde and he has now published a book that is available from the local community groups. The cost is $10 and all proceeds go directly to the community organisations.
Bucketty’s history is unique. Situated on a break line of the geological formation of the Hawkesbury sandstone and Terrigal limestone plateaus, formed some 260 million years ago, most of the current flora and fauna is a direct result of this development. Stunning wildflower displays proliferate in Spring in the rugged sandstone areas, and the Wattagan Forest contains beautiful rainforests – remnants of the Terrigal formation.
The Aboriginal people began to arrive in the area at least 13,000 years ago. Mount Yengo had a similar importance to the Darkinjung people who lived here as does Uluru for the people of the Central Desert. This significance was a focal point at a combined Aboriginal and Bucketty reconciliation event commemorating the original Aboriginal inhabitants of the area. Bucketty and its surroundings is rich in the cultural heritage left by the Darkinjung – rock paintings, carvings, sacred caves and so on. The Bucketty community shares feelings of responsibility towards this heritage with the Darkinjung Land Council and other Aboriginal groups and the book describes the fascinating history of the Darkinjung.
The European settlers who arrived in the area around 1800 have made their mark on Bucketty as it is today. The first settlers, Murray, Milson and Blaxland, arrived driving cattle from Milson’s Point in Sydney, via what is now the Freeway to Newcastle, over the Hawkesbury River to the Lower Hunter Valley. Murrays Run is one of the oldest early settlements in the Hunter Valley/Central Coast and the Sternbeck family, who still live in the area, are direct descendents of the early pioneers.
The section of the Great North Road built in the Bucketty area contains some of the most important national convict monuments in the country: bridges, retaining walls, culverts and original parts of the road. Some 700 convicts worked on this road, for the most part in chains, and an important stockade known as Dennis’s Dog Kennel, situated at the spring in Bucketty, was at that time designated to be turned into a settlement; however this plan was revoked in 1889. Currently modern-day ‘convicts’ are assisting the local communities in the restoration of these monuments and are once again camping out along the Great North Road – ‘l’histoire se repete’.
There are many other interesting stories to be found in the The Bucketty Book.
- The building of the North Telegraph Line in 1859.
- The Rugby settlement, a con job from the late 1800s where unsuspecting buyers in London and Sydney were offered building blocks in an inaccessibly steep and rugged area.
- A proposed train link between Wollombi and Gosford.
- The sulky accident of 1909.
- More recent events include the 1994,2001 and 2004 bush fires, droughts, floods and even a mini-cyclone.
The book also documents the formation of the settlement that started in 1972 and takes a look at how a newly-formed community, with a very diverse population, comes together and establishes itself – how it survives, works, lives and plays together. The various social and cultural aspects of the Bucketty community, its disappointments and its triumphs, are discussed in the publication – linking the land and its history with its people and their future.
Next see: The Natural Environment.