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Maroota Sand Deposits - composition and economic uses 

The Maroota area has two distinct sand types: The Tertiary Period Maroota Sands and those weathered from the Triassic Period Hawkesbury Sandstone. Over many millennia, surface levels of the latter became friable and broke down to sand and clay. As this happened, colour was leached from the weathering rock, leaving the white sand Maroota is best known for. The much younger and generally more colourful Tertiary era sediments overlie the sandstone in parts of Maroota.

PF Formation excavation site in Tertiary Sands near Maroota Trig - 2006

Tertiary sand from Maroota is mainly used in concrete related products, in projects such as the Foreign Affairs Building in Canberra, Star City Casino, the M2 motorway and the Olympic facilities at Homebush. Most of the weathered Hawkesbury Sandstone is excavated in the northern part of Maroota and is mainly used for bricklaying.

The area now provides approximately 10% of Sydney’s total sand supplies, including about 50% of Sydney’s white bricklaying sand.

Many names are given to the excavated sand, each for a particular use or description. These include: White & Yellow Brickie Sand, Red Sand, Filling Sand, Coarse Compaction Sand, Landscape Sand, Propagation Sand, Bunker Sand, Concrete Sand, Dressage Arena Sand.

Stockpile of niche market or special purpose sand (golf bunker sand) at the Dixon Sands washing plant, Maroota.  This particular sand is washed from friable Hawkesbury Sandstone. (Photo: Iain Paterson, GeoSurvey news)

In addition, sandstone roadbase, clay and different sizes and types of gravel are available. Gravel types include the popular Maroota Gold pebbles (see also Post-Settlement History ), which are used in landscaping projects. They are found in gravel lenses within the Tertiary sandmass but do not actually contain gold - their colour being due to iron minerals in the rock.

(Much of the above was compiled from information available on the Dixon Sands and PF Formation public websites).





The samples shown above were donated to the project by PF Formation.

Top photo left to right: Red Sand, Yellow Sand, Coarse Washed Sand, Fine Washed Sand. Bottom photo left to right: White Bricklayers' Sand, White Clay, Pea Gravel, 5mm Maroota Gold Pebbles, 10mm Maroota Gold Pebbles.

A number of other companies are (or have been) involved in sandmining and other extractive works around Maroota, for example the following operations are recorded in the Australian Mines Atlas: 

481058 Maroota Cy, Sh
480882 Maroota, Breen 9 & 10 Sdc
480752 Maroota, Lot 167, Hitchcock Road Sdc, Agg, Sdst
480649 Maroota, Old Northern Road Sdc
480401 Maroota, Frederick 64 Sdc
480398 Maroota, Frederick DP732708 Sdc
480386 Maroota Clay/Shale Cy, Sh
479128 Maroota Cy, Sh
479126 Becketts Forest Maroota Cy, Sh
470299 Maroota Clay/Shale, Cornelia 98 Cy, Sh
476814 El Kazzi, South Maroota Dst, Sdst
481061 Maroota - Hannan Cy, Sh
480408 Maroota, Pt Portion 170 Sdc
480407 Maroota, Lot B DP 407341 Sdc
480399 Maroota, Frederick 55 & 56 Sdc
480392 Maroota 83 Sdc
480389 Maroota Clay/Shale, Frederick 116 Cy, Sh
472857 South Maroota, Western Mining Soil
480918 Maroota Trig Area Sdc
480611 Maroota Cy, Sh
480402 Maroota, Frederick 116 Sdc
480394 Maroota 23 Sdc
470305 Maroota, Lot A DP 407341 Sdc
470303 Maroota 47 Sdc
470241 Maroota, Hearses Road Sdc
481201 Maroota Cy, Sh
480405 Maroota, Frederick 10 Sdc
480404 Maroota, Frederick 28 Northern Sdc
480400 Maroota, Frederick 65 Sdc
480387 Maroota Clay/Shale, Frederick 55 Cy, Sh
479127 Maroota - Old Northern Road Sdc
479125 North Maroota Cy, Sh
479124 Weavers Road Maroota Cmat
470300 Maroota Clay/Shale, Frederick 65 Cy, Sh
481209 Maroota Cy, Sh
481199 Maroota Cy, Sh
481089 Maroota, Old Northern Rd Cy, Sh
481057 Maroota Cy, Sh
480785 Maroota, Breen 125 Sdc
480406 Maroota, Frederick 66 Sdc
480395 Maroota, DP 204159 Sdc
478314 Maroota, "Sun-A-Rise" Sdc, Aggd
470142 Maroota, Portion 117 Sdc
481063 Maroota - Carob Transport Cy, Sh
481056 Maroota Cy, Sh
481054 Maroota Cy, Sh
480912 Maroota, various portions Sdc, Aggc, Gvl, Sisd
480758 Maroota, Trig Quarry Sdc Cy, Sh, Agg, Sdst, Aggc, Gvl, Cmat
480744 Maroota, Glen Hill Enterprises Sdc
480652 North Maroota Resource Area Sdc
480651 Maroota, Monaldo Sdc
480403 Maroota, Frederick 28 Southern Sdc
480393 Maroota 48 Sdc
480388 Maroota Clay/Shale, Frederick 64 Cy, Sh
470304 Maroota, Frederick 125 Sdc, Aggc, Gvl
470301 Maroota, Cornelia 91 Sdc
481120 Maroota Sdc
481064 Maroota (No 2), Hearses Road Cy, Sh
480923 Maroota, Trovato-Weavers Area Sdc
480794 Maroota, Breen 214 Sdc
480397 Maroota, Frederick DP 710288 Sdc
480396 Maroota, Frederick 9 Sdc
480385 Maroota Clay/Shale, Cornelia 35 Cy, Sh
470302 Maroota DP 555184 Sdc
481188 Maroota (No 3) Cy, Sh
480775 Maroota, Warrah School Sdc, Aggc, Gvl, Cy, Sh
480774 Maroota, Teofilo & Accurso Sdc
480655 Maroota, Consolidated Feldspar Sdc
480391 Maroota, Dixons Extension Sdc
480390 Maroota Clay Deposit Cy, Sh
479131 Maroota - Turnbull Cy, Sh

(see )

In addition, the following information has been gathered by the LachlanHunter Group (for Uren 1973 reference see Geology ): 

PML 5847 - Pit 1 of Uren (1973), held by O.A. Hanbury.  Tertiary sand (7m max.) and a 2-3.5m thick  lens of fresh grey shale underlying.  Originally quarried for brick clay but later on an interest in sand extraction developed. The Department of Mines wrote a number of reports on this to Baulkham Hills Shire Council in 1972 after Council expressed opposition to large scale sand mining operations.  A washing plant worth more that $5,000 had been constructed at the site but did not go into immediate operation (MR3626).  This area was later held under PML 9590 by Maroota Minerals N.L. (GS1975/161).  The lower 2m of the Maroota Sand is leached here, and the upper 5m is yellow-brown and variably ironstained, becoming strongly iron-cemented at the top.


Pit 4 of Uren (1973), shale - This pit was worked by Mr Pat Hannan, on land owned by Mr K. Roberts, and the product sold to Autobric Industries Pty Ltd (Uren, 1973).  Some 2.4m of dark grey shale was exposed.


Pit 5 of Uren (1973), shale - This pit was worked by Mr Pat Hannan, on land owned by Mr G. Hitchcock, and the product sold to Autobric Industries Pty Ltd and Austral Brick Company Pty Ltd (Uren, 1973).  A thickness of 2.1m of shale was exposed.  This shale is definitely a lens, overlain by clayey white sandstone.


ML 5728 - Brick clay pit, east of Old Northern Road.  Lease was cancelled by Mines Department in 1976 and arrangements made for Hornsby Shire Council to commence of rehabilitation (MR3626).


Early clay/shale regional prospecting - The Cromies, George and Brian, were prominent in the area since the 1960s and engaged in extracting clay and shale at many locations, as well as prospecting very widely for such.  Mr G.L. Cromie began such operations based from 4 Hill St, Baulkam Hills and later on Mr Brian Cromie ran the excavation business from a Glenorie base, where Brian Cromie Industries is still situated.  Mr George Cromie initially prospected in 1969 (AtoP 3144) by sinking augers by hand to a depth of 18 feet.  He hoped for assistance of having Austral Brick Co, the prospective purchaser of clay/shale, come to the area to drill.  This early work was recorded as 'Maroota' but was south of what is now referred to as Forest Glen.  It recorded at least 10 ft shale thickness immediately east of Old Northern Road.  Later in 1969 he drilled further north in Parish Marramarra on the southern side of Canoelands Road (AtoP 3231) and recorded red and blue shale to 15 ft thickness on the eastern side of Old Northern Road.  Mr Don Wall in 1971 prospected widely over a wide area to the west of Old Northern Road north of Martin Trig station (AtoP 3543).  He found little prospect of shale lenses there in the dissected country, apart from some minor lenses on the road leading down to The Vale (pers. comm. D. Wall).


Brian Cromie's pit on land of Mr. Perc. Roberts - Pit 2 of Uren (1973).  The Tertiary sand and clay overlies Hawkesbury Sandstone (at northern end - 1.8m Tertiary sand, 1.2 m clay, 1.5m sandstone, 1.2m shale lens).  The clay and shale sold to Austral Brick Co.   Mr B. Cromie was removing 100 tons per day and employing 2 men at Maroota by mid 1974 (MR6088).


Brian Cromie clay shale - From Mr Ram's property at Roberts Road, active in 1980 (MR6088). 


Brian L. Cromie's pit - Portion 40, Parish Cornelia.  Producing 180 tonnes per day in 1974.  Void left as a dam in 1975 (MR6088).


Brian Cromie - Portion 81, Parish Cornelia. New pit being opened in 1975 (MR6088). 


Brian Cromie's clay shale pit - Portion 95, Parish Cornelia.  Noted in 1975 and a considerable amount of brick clay and shale being won at a steady rate, with two men employed (MR6088).


Brian Cromie - Lots 37 and 43, Parish Frederick.  New pit being opened in 1975 (MR6088). 


Brian Cromie - Portion 147, Parish Maroota.  Pit noted in 1975 (MR6088). 


Brian Cromie shale - On Mr Kazzi's property, Maroota.  Small shale extraction, noted 1977 (MR6088). 


Brian Cromie clay - On Mr Pringle's property, Maroota.  Small extraction, noted 1979 (MR6088). 


Brian Cromie clay - On Mr Clark's property, Maroota.  Small extraction, noted in 1979 to be suppying PGH brickworks at Doonside, and later on supplying Austral Brick No. 3 plant.  Excavation continued into 1980 when it was supplying both the Austral and Zacuba brickworks (MR6088).  


Brian Cromie shale pit, Hitchcock Road - Lot 214.  Brick shale extraction completed in 1976 (MR6088). 


George L. Cromie's shale pit - Portion 29, Parish of Marra Marra, in close proximity to the Old Northern Road.  This was operating in 1964-1965 on a limited scale by means of a front-end loader.   The pit was on a 10 ft thick shale band and extended over a length of 150 ft with a face height of 20 ft.  The land was transferred to Mr W.S. Jackson in 1965 but Mr Cromie continued operating it.  Output was 100-200 tons per week in 1965.  The land was transferred to Mr R. Ralph in 1966 and Mr Cromie continued operating the quarry, with output falling below 70 tons per week.  The land transferred to R. Routh in 1967 and operation decreased to more sporadic, about 100 tons per month, and MLA 770 (Sydney) was lodged over an adjacent area.   Production at about 100 tons per month continued in 1968 (Q580, MR6088). [Recorded as 'Maroota' but may be south of Maroota.]


G.L. Cromie's shale pit - Portion 14, Parish of Marra Marra, Canoelands Road.  Two men employed in 1974 (MR6088).  [South of Maroota, and cf. aforementioned MLA 770?]


Maroota Sand Company Pty Ltd (ABN 090 926 613) - History and operations currently unknown.


Portion 117 (DP752025) sand -  Land owned by D. & G. Accurso.  Sand extraction 1981-1983 by Mr Daniel, until instructed to cease by Baulkham Hills Council.  Mr Daniels ceased and PF Formation later began removing sand from Por. 117.  An EIS over the area was prepared by Collin C. Donges & Associates in 1984.  In 1986 Council refused further application and again ordered that extraction cease.  This was appealed against and the appeal dismissed.  The applicant lodged a fresh application later in 1986 following this.  Approval of sandmining at Maroota was largely taken over by the State government.

In or about 2000, Hornsby council proposed to Baulkham Hills council concerning Maroota extractive industry that there was need for a regional review that involved the local community.  Baulkham Hills resolved not to cooperate with Hornsby on this and it is unlikely that Hornsby would have proceeded on its own.  However in about 2000 a Natural Heritage Trust grant was given to the Maroota Rural Resource Centre for a project named "A Community Approach to Integrated Resource Management at Maroota"

(reference to completion report not yet obtained).


Portion 116 (DP547255) sand -  Land owned by Manaldo Pty Ltd.  This developed into a major operations area for PF Formation, which had commenced sand extraction there in 1983.  Baulkham Hills Shire Council directed that it too cease.  PF Formation lodged a fresh application in 1984 and this was refused, in 1986.  The refusal was appealed against and the appeal was dismissed.  In 1987 a further application was lodged, followed by another appeal.

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