Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke got her hands dirty today as she joined Mayor of Narrandera Neville Kschenka in the planting of native trees and shrubs along the Newell Highway upgrade site at Grong Grong.

Ms Cooke said the planting was the final flourish of a $17 million project which will benefit Grong Grong residents and drivers.

“The landscaping work which starts today is the cherry on the top of this vital Newell Highway realignment, bringing increased safety both for the Grong Grong community and for motorists,” she said.

“We will see thousands of trees planted on the highway – including one which will forever hold a special place in my heart – as well as the native plants which are being planted at Grong Grong Earth Park,” she said, having planted a tree and scooped soil in with her bare hands.

“Landscaping work along the project length is being carried out between May and September this year to avoid planting trees during the hot summer months,” she added.

A total of 82 avenue trees will be planted at two intersections, as well as more than 6600 Australian native trees and shrubs. These will include a range of wattles, including Gold Dust Wattle, Knife-edge Wattle, Western Silver Wattle, Bent-leaf Wattle, Mudgee Wattle, Wedge-leaf Wattle, as well as Wedge-leaf Hop Bush.

“In addition, 340 native plants – including Grey Box, Mugga Ironbark, White Box, Apple Box, Yellow Box, Grey Box and Popular Box varieties – will be planted and gravel access tracks will be built at the Grong Grong Earth Park,” she said.

Two business information signs will also be installed on the north and southbound approaches of the Newell Highway, about 5 kilometres from Grong Grong, as part of this contract.

For more information on south western NSW road projects, visit: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/south-western/index.html

CAPTION: Steph Cooke MP, Member for Cootamundra, plants a tree at Grong Grong Earth Park as part of the landscaping work which is the final part of the Newell Highway upgrade at Grong Grong.