Bucketty is situated on the edge of two geological two rock formations. Known as the Narrabeen and Hawkesbury sandstone formations, these were formed in the Triassic Period (240-215 million years ago). These layers are on top of a hill of Permian rocks which was laid down in a period of wet weather in a tropical climate some 280 to 250 million years ago.
The area was very swampy. As a result of this there are rich outcrops of this Permian rock in coal formation in the wider Hunter region. The oldest formation to reach the surface in Bucketty is the Narrabeen sandstone; this layer is visible in most parts of the Watagans. Driving from the Letter A into the Watagans the difference becomes very apparent as the Narrabeen landforms and soil types are almost perfect for the natural production of forests. The Narrabeen sandstone was formed when sand particles began washing down from mountains in northern New South Wales some 230 million years ago. The deposits arrived in cycles and consisted of gravel, sand and silt. The geological name for this process is geosyncline. The Hawkesbury layer was formed on top of this. Heavy rains carried these particles, most probably from Western New South Wales, to the coast.
Most of Bucketty is on the Hawkesbury formation. The characteristics are:
- hard sandstone
- poor soil
- lots of wildflowers (they need a lot of flowers quickly for reproduction in a relatively short period)
- stunted (open) forest.
Typical trees in the Bucketty area are:
- Red and Yellow Bloodwood
- Sydney Peppermint
- Grey Gum
- Sydney Red Gum
- Blue Gum
- Scribbly Gum.
The Narrabeen formation, in the Watagans is called the Terrigal formation and consists of softer sandstone and shale, it has rich loamy soil. It produces fewer flowers but has a much thicker forest.
Volcanic activity took place in the Tertiary Period up until 60 million years ago. These volcanoes spewed their basaltic lava over Bucketty and the surrounding countryside and basalt remnants can still be found in creek beds. Volcanic vents are the landmarks in this area: Mt Yengo, Mt Warrawalong and Mt Werong are the most well-known. Much later in time these vents played an important role in the lives of the Aboriginal people who arrived here probably some 13,000 years ago.
Vegetation and wildlife
The country’s geology is a critical element in the life it can support. Most vegetation in Bucketty consists of dry sclerophyll forest on the ridge-tops and its wet variety in the gullies and on the sheltered southern slopes. There is even a tree on the southern slopes that has the word ‘Bucketty’ in its name – the Bucketty Stringybark.
In the deeper valleys patches of rainforest and tall open forests can be found. One of the most common trees in the area is the Scribbly Gum. Other common trees include the yellow and red Bloodwood, the Sydney Peppermint, the Round-leafed Blue Gum, various varieties of Angophora and Ironbark trees.
The area has also plenty of grass trees (Xanthorrhoea). These were used by the Darkinjung for spears and gum. They chewed the leaves for their moisture content and when the stalk flowered the children would lick its honey (highly recommended). The leaves of some Fig Trees were used as sandpaper to smooth spears and tools. Banksia flowers were another sources of ‘candy’ – soaked in water it provided a lemonade drink, not as sweet as modern lemonades. Bracken was cooked and used as a vegetable and so were the roots of many other plants.
Wildlife is plentiful in Bucketty and includes wombats, wallaroos, swamp wallabies, grey kangaroos, koalas, possums, goannas and sugar gliders. Signs have been erected by the community along George Downes Drive asking drivers to take care, but every year – especially during spring and summer – dozens of animals are killed. The swamp wallaby is by far the most frequent casualty.
Wombats have an additional problem that is threatening their survival – an appalling disease called sarcoptic mange – and the community has joined forces to address this problem.
Birds are another feature of the area and include gang gangs, yellow- and red-tailed cockatoos, lyre birds, wedge-tailed eagles, king parrots and dozens of other bird species that are particularly attracted to the profuse wildflowers that are the consequence of the geology of the land.
Frogs are still alive and well in Bucketty – just come and listen after a day of heavy rain.
Next see: The Darkinjung