The first official community activity was the foundation of a Ratepayers Association. First called Bucketty Estate Ratepayers Association (BERA) it was established on 26 March 1978. In 1998 the name was in 1998 changed to the current name of Bucketty and Districts Ratepayers and Residents Association (BADRRA).
The subject of rates dominated the meetings for a long time. They had gone up from $35 in 1975 to $200 in 1978. Hugh Grimes played a key role – the first BERA meeting took place at his home in Private Road 3 and was attended by 100 people. The first president was Eric Larha, from Mountain Farm in Private Road 1.
After the ‘rates issue’, Hungry Creek became the second major focus point for the Bucketty Community (see Burralong above). Hungry Creek was the name of a popular off-road motorbike track in Murrays Run, developed at the same time as the neighbouring Bucketty Estates. A clash between these opposing developments was impending from the beginning. Hungry Creek attracted hundreds of trail bikes; some weekends recorded over 800 bikes. They turned up through the bush at the private residence of Bucketty residents living on the top of the ridge above Murrays Run. Following threats of legal action and endless meetings and discussions a compromise was reached. The racetrack would be closed and the owners would be allowed a ‘lucrative’ subdivision of the 600-acre area.
Other issues that have been addressed by BADRRA over the years include:
- extension of the school bus run from Kulnura to Bucketty;
- local call facility to the Central Coast;
- public phone box at the Letter A;
- daily mail run by Australia Post.
Name change to Bucketty And Districts Ratepayers Association on June 6, 1984. Name change to Bucketty And Districts Ratepayers And Residents Association on January 10, 1998. A decade later the Association merged with the Wollombi Valley Progress Association.
The Fire Brigade
The natural spring on Jim Coates’s land became the water supply for what would later become the Bucketty and Districts Volunteers Fire Brigade. This name was changed again in 1999 into the Bucketty and Districts Rural Fire Brigade.
From this spring a big container on the back of a utility was filled with water to attack the bushfires that raged though the area in the summers of 1972/1973. The residents provided fire-fighting assistance to Murrays Run. The next development was when Jim Coates received a fire-fighting trailer from the Wollombi Fire Brigade. After BERA/BADRRA was formed, concerns were raised about the lack of any ‘real’ fire-fighting equipment. They approached Cessnock Fire Control and the result was that the trailer was refurbished.
The Bucketty and Districts Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed in 1980 and Greg Casamento became its first captain. A 4WD Striker vehicle was provided by Fire Control to tow the trailer. The vehicle was first located at Phil Gray’s property at Private Road 8. Phil was a deputy at that stage and later became the second captain of the Brigade.
A year later the first Tanker (a 1944 ex-army Ford Blitz short wheelbase vehicle) became available and this was housed in a purpose-built bush shed on Greg Casamento property in Road 6. Another second-hand Bedford truck was eventually succeeded by the (current/2000) Isuzu that arrived in July 1989.
The Fire Station was built by the local community on land donated by Jim and June Cooper. On 11 December 1993 the site was named the ‘June Cooper Memorial Bush Reserve’, in memory of June who died shortly after the land was donated. In that same year the station was extended to include amenities and a public area for meetings, training and other community activities.
In 1995 the community built a veranda and barbecue area, with the financial assistance of Cessnock City Council. The Bucketty Bush Dance became an annual event in 1993, as a fund-raising activity for the Fire Brigade. Over the years various bands have performed and the highlights have been the Bucketty Jams in 2001 and 2009.
Bucketty Tidy Bush Community
The Bucketty Tidy Bush Community (BTBC) was established in 1993.
During the first couple of years the community cleared close to 100 tonnes of roadside rubbish during the National Clean-Up days organised by the Keep Australia Beautiful Council, and for this it received a State Award in 1997. With the help of Gosford City Council, the Letter A area was landscaped and a bus shelter was erected for the schoolchildren.
The next project for BTBC was the Convict Trail. In 1996, 16 councils and other organisations were involved in this project with the aim of restoring, maintaining and promoting the 220km Great North Road. The Bucketty Community started with the restoration of the convict-built wall and for this they received the 1995 Keep Australia Beautiful Heritage Award in Ballina NSW.
This was celebrated at the first Christmas Carols night in Bucketty on 16 December 1995. Over the following years the community group established commemorative sites:
- in Murrays Run, to honour the early pioneers in the area;
- in Walkers Ridge Road, to commemorate the Darkinjung Aboriginal people;
- at the Convict Wall, the recognise the work done by the convicts.
Other activities included the restoration by Pam and Bernard Sahm of the sign and the gate of the Bucketty Paddocks and the clearing and cleaning of the various dams in this area to allow the Fire Brigade to use them in emergency situations.
BTBC also plays an important support role in the Wombat Rescue Project, generating wider interest and support amongst the local community (and beyond) for this worthwhile scheme.
The day Bucketty took to the skies
On one of those gorgeous clear and sunny autumn days, Sunday 31 March 1996, 28 ‘Bucketteers’ and their friends gathered for a lunch outside the passenger terminal in Bankstown Airport in preparation for a special charter flight to Bucketty in a real DC3.
The stewardess mentioned as soon we came on board that we had to loosen our clothes and take off as much as possible. The stewardess’s instructions should have been a warning of things to come, but for the time being, in blessed ignorance, everybody was in great spirits.
We flew over Hornsby, followed the Freeway, spectacular views of the ocean, Barrenjoey lighthouse, Terrigal and then over Wyong, right over the new Tuggerah shopping centre into the Yarramalong Valley. The Yarramalong passengers had a good view of their beloved valley.
Local aviation enthusiast and organiser of the trip, David Lindop, was instructed the flight crew about the flight path, ensuring that all on board received value for their money and were shown spectacular views.
Suddenly we were flying right over the Letter A, over the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the bushfire tower and the rocky and sandy ridges of Bucketty. From this point the pilot had difficulty keeping the DC3 stable in the air, as for the next 10 minutes everybody was jumping from the right to the left of the little aeroplane to be in the best possible position to see their own house. Cameras worked overtime and many film rolls clicked through the cameras as we flew right over Mt McQuoid, where we saw Bronny and Claude Aliotti at the radio beacon filming us from below. Several circles over Burralong Valley, where Glenn Grant had display – unfortunately in letters that were too small for us to read – “Hi Di and Sue”.
Then we were flying right over the Lindop Hangar; from Bucketty we were heading towards the Watagans and we had a few stunning circles over Wollombi Central. It was such a clear day that you could see the people on the veranda in the pub from 2000 feet high.
Unfortunately, by the time we circled Mt Yengo half the passengers were either already airsick, or were sitting very quietly. In the back of the plane Katrina Binks quietly opened a bottle of white wine for the survivors as we circled Mt Yengo.
We flew only a few hundred feet above this 660 metre high Aboriginal site and it was an awesome sight. We requested the pilot to fly from there into the Wollemi.
Only when you fly above this vast wilderness can you appreciate the ruggedness of these mountains. Deep valleys, beautiful cliffs – we also saw the valley where the Hunter River has its source. We circled the 1280 metre high summit of Mt Curicudgi, flying at the same level. It was absolutely spectacular!
We had now reached the turning point and went looking for St Albans. We saw the silted river bed of the Macdonald River and knew that we were on the right track, and St Albans was soon right ahead of us. It was a busy day at the Settlers Arms and we saw the glittering of the many cars parked outside. When we arrived at Wisemans Ferry, the ferry was right in the middle of the mighty Hawkesbury River.
We followed the river back in the direction of the coast to the Freeway.
Bush Acappella Group December 11th 1993
In 1995 three locals, Isabelle Fogarty, David Lindop and Paul Budde, all three involved a cappella groups in Sydney, decided to establish their own group in Bucketty.
In March 1995, with group of about ten others, they began to meet on a weekly basis. The group quickly grew to around 20 people and on average some 15 people gathered every fortnight in the offices of Paul Budde Communication to ‘have a sing’. The singers come from Wollombi/Laguna, Yarramalong, Brush Creek, Bucketty and Mangrove Mountain.
Every year the group helped the local communities in the organisation of the Christmas Carols Night, which attracts people from as far as Sydney and Newcastle.
Another highlight for the group is the annual Choral Sea Performance at the Town Hall in Sydney. The Bush Acappella Group is one of the core groups that participate in this 700-voices choral event.
In 1999 the group moved to Peat’s Ridge, the home of the new music teacher Jenny Wilson, and the fortnightly rehearsal has moved to the Pizza restaurant which is owned by Jenny. Since the group lost its director in early 00’s the group only meets occassionaly.
A creative community
Many talented people, involved in various forms of art and craft, live in Bucketty and the surrounding area. Bernard Sahm is a well-known potter and his wife Pam is a painter. David Lindop turns aeroplane parts into beautiful jewellery. Bernard and David have both been recognised for this in the media. Claude and Bronwyn Aliotti have produced high-quality video presentations, including one on the Convict Trail. Their daughter, Gillian Aliotti, is a well-known singer who produced her own CD in 1998. Another ‘famous’ Bucketty singer is Roisin Pengelly– her specialty is Gaelic music. Bill Bottomley is not only a wood craftsman and musician, but also a cottage publisher of local books (including this one). Hilda McDermott is approached by people all around the world to make dresses for their dolls. Flo Sternbeck is renowned for her delicious jams and cakes; a knitting circle is run by Pam Marshall; a craft group by Diane Bell and a literature group was co-initiated by Sharon Rundle. And we are talking about a very small community here.
Many people have settled in Bucketty to fulfill their creative dreams and are involved in painting, woodwork, mud brick-making and metal work. And at regular intervals people form their own groups to share their hobbies with others.
In the early 1990s Michael Marsden opened an observatory in Bucketty under the name Koolang. In May 2000 Cessnock Council approved a development from the Walters’ family, for a café on the George Downes Drive, just south of Road 6.
The author of this book, Paul Budde, has established himself as an expert in the field of telecommunications and is regularly quoted and interviewed by the media. The Bucketty Paddocks are a regular landing spot for the ABC TV helicopter.
The community is also very multicultural with its residents coming from countries including: UK, Netherlands, France, Singapore, USA, Zimbabwe, Germany, Austria, Albania and Israel.
For several years Bucketty residents have been trying to establish a community facility. While the early initiatives go back to the mid-1980s, a serious attempt was made around 1990 when the Bucketty and Districts Community Centre Organisation (BADCCO) was formed.
This group negotiated with council (funding) and Aboriginal Land Councils (land) to get the project off the ground. While the group is still active it became clear that an actual community centre would be very difficult to achieve in the short term
As the decade-old initiative of a community facility was still very much alive in the mid-1990s, the Bucketty Tidy Bush Community, together with the Bucketty Volunteer Fire Brigade, took a slightly different direction. The Fire Station, being already the de facto community focus point, was extended in 1993 with amenities and a public area for meetings, training and other community activities.
To further enhance the community facility it was decided in 1995, to further extend with a veranda and an undercover barbecue area. Through Cessnock Fire Control, Cessnock Council has given the Bucketty Community official permission to use the meeting area, which is separate from the independently locked Fire Station.
The Community Facility was officially opened on 19 October 1996 by the then Major of Cessnock, Merv Payne. The centre features a 5-metres-long local timber table with four benches, made (and donated) by local craftspeople, Claude Aliotti and David Lindop. This table is a welcoming environment for cosy yarns, barbecues and informal meetings and has since been used on many occasions.
One of the most memorable of these events was the performance of Golden Future Faces in 1997, a group of young black South Africans from Pretoria, who were touring Australia. They were invited by the Bush Acappella Group and spent a day with them in the Bucketty Bush which ended with an evening of dance and songs, with the unusual sound of African drums dominating the Bucketty bush.
The Community Facility was also used twice in 1998 to host a group of modern day ‘convicts’ from the Mobile Outreach Program operated by the St Helliers Correctional Centre, who were assisting the Convict Trail Project with restoration and maintenance work.
Another highlight took place in 1999, when a jam session was organised by the community. This turned into a most memorable event and also generated an excellent CD, Spontaneous Combustion, produced by Claude Allioti. While there were many local stars that night, special recognition was given to the Gaelic singer Roisin Pengelly, for her spectacular improvisation.
The area in front of the Fire Station was paved in February 2000. Later on that month the NSW Bush Fire Brigade Commissioner Mr Phil Koperberg and his executives conducted an official meeting on the veranda in Bucketty – this was the first time they had ever held a meeting outside their head office in Rosebery, Sydney.
Christmas Carols and 5 Star Concerts
During 1994-1995 the Bucketty Community restored the convict-built wall on the Great North Road in Bucketty. This was the first initiative in the Convict Trail Project.
Built in 1830 the monument forms a natural amphitheatre to the surrounding bush. After a thorough clean-up of the area the site became a natural focal point for community activities. In December 1995 the Bush Acappella Group planned a Christmas Carols night that became an instant success. The first year 150 people attended the event, the next year the carol concert attracted 350 people and in 1997 the audience totalled 450. Events in 1998 and 1999 were equally successful. As with most activities in Bucketty, these events are jointly organised by Bucketty Tidy Bush and the Fire Brigade.
Another plan developed by local resident, Ian McLean, was launched in 1997. Over the last few years the Bucketty Bush Fire Brigade had organised an annual bush dance as their major fundraiser which, while successful, never generated large sums of money.
The new plan was to stage a proper concert at the wall. The convict wall site was upgraded into a great amphitheatre. The stage area was reorganised, temporary toilet facilities were organised and so on. Everything was ready for the community’s first Under the Stars Concert involving top artists from Opera Australia. The event was enormously successful, 350 paying guests and $5000 gross revenue.
After the successful Concert in 1997, it was decided to go ahead with plans that would include the creation of some basic facilities for future use of the site. All of this had to be removable, as the community didn’t want any permanent impact on either the historical site, or the natural bush. All of this was finalised before the 5 Star Concert and a Christmas Carols ‘season’ of 1998.
In October 1999 the community organised a different concert under the name ‘Convict Stock’ a combination of Aboriginal, Australian Bush and Irish music.
For the first time since its beginning the Carols were cancelled in 2019 because of the massive fires surrounding the community. A smaller community event was held in March 2020, just before the close down of the country as a result of the Corona Pandemic.
The following year the Carols were cancelled again, this time because of Covid 19. While restrictions had eased, the organisers didn’t want to take any risk.
Telephone lines into the ‘new’ private properties were battle that lasted to well into the 1980s. The two telephone cables into Bucketty come from Murrays Run, one through Bucketty Arms and another one to the end of Private Road 1 (Mount Simpson). Because of the high level of iron in the Bucketty rock which produces frequent lightning strikes, the area suffers from repeated telephone outages.
The Old Telegraph Line
Long before the first telephone was connected in Murrays Run, the telegraph line passed through our area. The North Telegraph Line from Sydney to Singleton was built in 1859/1860 and followed the 220km convict-built Great North Road. The line was officially opened in January 1860. After the road ceased being used for road traffic, the PostMaster General (now Telstra) maintained the road until the late 1950s. By that time telephone lines from Sydney via the coast had replaced the infrastructure that went through the more inhospitable and sparsely populated bush lands between Wisemans Ferry and Wollombi. A few insulators from the old telegraph line have been retrieved from the local bushland. The poles themselves have all been lost during the frequent bushfires.
In 1998 the Convict Trail published an occasional monograph on the North Telegraph Line, written by Jack Delaney.
Together with the communities of Kulnura, Laguna and Wollombi, Bucketty in 2004/2005 led a community effort to get broadband connections to its residents. For that purpose 200 people signed up for a broadband connection and as such provided Telstra with a customer list for the service.
The telephone exchanges in Kulnura, Laguna and Wollombi were upgraded as well as the so called RIM in Murrays Run, with ADSL equipment that would allow residents within approx 7 kms from this equipment to receive broadband access. People who fell outside this area had to connect to subsidised the satellite service from the government.
In April 2011, Bucketty was also connected to the mobile network, thanks to a tower erected by Optus at the Koolang property on Mount McQuoid.
Yengo National Park
In 1993 the National Park and Wildlife Service opened their depot in Bucketty. From here they started to manage the newly established Yengo National Park. A helipad, known as ‘Bucketty International’ was established and in 1995 (after The Fires) a fire tower was built.
In 1999 the NPWS acquired parts of the Crown land that lay between Bucketty and the Yengo NP. This new area also included the Convict Wall and the amphitheatre used by the community.
The community asked NPWS to recognise their custodianship of the place and in early 2000, the community, together with the NPWS, developed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly manage the site. The NPWS provided new arrangements in 2019, under which the community would be able to continue its activities at the Convict Wall.
Next see: Accidents and Disasters