Cowra Civic Centre gets Major Upgrade

The Cowra Civic Centre will offer higher standards of comfort and better views of the stage thanks to $1.5 million from the NSW Government’s Creative Capital program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government’s investment is about supporting quality arts venues, boosting tourism and the local economy.

“This project will build on the amazing work that has been achieved at the Centre in recent years, delivering an internal fit-out which will provide a better experience for local audiences and visitors to enjoy,” Ms Cooke said.

“It is very welcome investment for a much-loved venue, home to many local events, such as the Cowra Eisteddfod, as well as touring productions.”

Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said this funding would make significant improvements to the centre by enhancing audience experiences.

“This funding will replace the old single seats that sit flat on the floor of the main auditorium with retractable raked seating which will provide comfortable, quality tiered seating offering premium views at for all patrons,” Mr Franklin said.

“Improved access is at the heart of this project, and the upgrade will also enable clear pathways into the auditorium by refurbishing the floor, removing steps and providing a level access path.”

“This will extend the performing space, giving greater flexibility and a wider variety of higher quality performances and events to patrons and visitors.

“This is an important upgrade for Cowra Civic Centre that will shape its future as a destination for arts and culture and enhance experiences for audiences and visitors alike.” Further details on the Creative Capital program are available on the Create NSW website at

Cowra to Benefit From Youth Opportunities Program

Young people in Cowra will benefit from the NSW Government’s Youth Opportunities program, with Cowra Show Society the successful recipient of $46,580 funding for their initiative – Volunteering for the robust real-world experience.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the Cowra Show Society’s planned workshops would provide a great opportunity for young people in the Cowra region to engage with the community and learn new skills to set them up for success in life.

“Young people thrive when they have the opportunity to participate in programs tailored to their needs,” Ms Cooke said.

“This proposal from Cowra Show Society sounds like a fun and engaging way to help them develop the talent and tools they need to reach their career and education goals, as well as encourage greater participation of young people as volunteers – be it with the Cowra Show Society, or elsewhere in the local community.”

Minister for Families and Communities Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the Cowra Show Society was one of 47 projects funded under this round of the Youth Opportunities program.

“Youth Opportunities grants are delivering $2 million in funding for youth-led and youth-driven projects across NSW,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

“From initiatives to assist young people to get their first job to workshops that will build vital life skills such as cooking and car maintenance, there will be incredible opportunities state-wide for young people.”

Minister for Regional Youth Ben Franklin said the program helps provide a pathway for young people, particularly in regional areas, to find their place in their community and live independently.

“The transition from school to work is often challenging, and initiatives like the Youth Opportunities Program are imperative in helping make that transition as easy as possible for young people,” Mr Franklin said.

“This funding helps facilitate a sustained transition into employment and provides young people with a personal development pathway to upskill them into qualified, work-ready professionals.” Youth Opportunities is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, providing $15.3 million to 329 projects across NSW since it commenced.

Construction of New Hangar and Club Room Almost Complete at Cowra Airport

The construction of a new hanger and club room at the Cowra and District Aero Club is steaming ahead thanks to the NSW Governments $325,485 investment into the project under Round 3 of the Stronger Country Communities Fund. 

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke recently visited the site at the Cowra Airport alongside Cowra and District Aero Club members and Mayor Bill West to view the major developments.

“The new facilities will be a great asset to the Cowra and District Aero Club who provide high-quality flight training to people of all ages who are interested in aviation, whether it be for leisure or to pursue a career as a qualified pilot,” Ms Cooke said.

“The club is really making its mark in the industry as being an outstanding choice for those seeking out highly professional flight training with students enrolling from as far as Sydney and Canberra.”

“Cowra has become a great hub for those wanting to learn foundational aviation skills in a regional setting.”

The Cowra Aero Club currently offers three types of training including an introductory trial instructional flight, obtaining a Recreational Aviation Australia certificate and the more advanced Cross Country Endorsement.

Cowra and District Aero Club President and Senior Instructor David Shaw said that the previous facilities were no longer meeting the ever growing demand.

“The old hangar had to be dismantled and the old club room acted as the terminal, which ultimately pushed the club into a side room that was no longer sufficient for the needs of training new pilots,” Mr Shaw said.

“These new upgrades will allow us to increase our current capabilities, expanding on teaching and becoming a better facility to introduce young people in particular to all aspects of aviation.”

“The new hangar and clubroom will enable us to continue training future pilots as a Recreational Aviation Australia flying school and act as a stepping stone for those who seek to not only be a recreational pilot, but those who wish to train and become a commercial pilot or pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force, or even those who hope to become involved in the maintenance or engineering aspects of aviation professions.”

The concrete pour is expected next week with door installation to follow before moving onto the construction of the club room section.

The group is holding a club day this Sunday May 1 for all of its 36 members which is a great opportunity to catch up socially and revise their skills.

New $5 Million RFS Command Centre and Station for Cowra

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has officially opened a new $5 million NSW Rural Fire Service Area Command Centre, air base and brigade station at Cowra.

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers and Cowra Mayor Bill West joined the Minister today to open the new co-located Area Command Centre and Waugoola Rural Fire Brigade Station, and hand over five new fire tankers, worth almost $1 million, to local volunteers.

The new facility, in the Cowra Airport Precinct, includes an office for Area Command staff, a warehouse to securely store essential equipment, an air base and the Waugoola Rural Fire Brigade Station.

Minister Cooke said the new facility would significantly increase fire safety in the region and help keep local communities safe.

“The NSW Government is continuing to invest in state-of-the-art facilities like this one here in Cowra to better equip our emergency services personnel for their vital work to protect our communities,” Ms Cooke said.

“The RFS members who operate from these facilities are valued members of their communities. They are local people making local decisions to protect life and property year round.”

Commissioner Rogers said the Area Command Centre would accommodate staff supporting almost 450 volunteer brigades across the RFS Western Area Command, which stretches from Lithgow to Wilcannia and Harden to Brewarrina, and covers more than 65 per cent of NSW.

“The airbase will provide us with enhanced capability for deploying aircraft as needed during emergencies across the west of the state,” Commissioner Rogers said.

“This excellent new multipurpose facilities and equipment are greatly welcomed by the local staff, volunteers and the communities they serve.” The Minister officially handed the keys over to a $356,000 tanker to the Waugoola 1 Brigade, a $214,000 tanker to each of the Gap 7 and Woodstock 7 Brigades, and a $204,000 tanker to each of the Darby Falls 7 and Wattamondara 7 Brigades.

Lachlan Valley Railway Heritage Centre Opens New Entrance Building

After years of setbacks and COVID-19 delays, thanks to grants provided by the NSW State Government, the Lachlan Valley Railway Heritage Centre have been able to cut the ribbon and unveil their new entrance and display building.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke is delighted to have been there for the celebration of this opening and said this funding was important in keeping the centre in peak condition.

“The Lachlan Valley Railway Heritage Centre in Cowra draws in crowds of hundreds of visitors each year, contributing to the flourishing tourism sector in Cowra,” Ms Cooke said.

“The team of passionate volunteers at the centre have worked tirelessly and shown real dedication and love in all they have done to enhance this space and grow its capabilities as a tourist destination.”

Mr Ian Cameron, Manager at the Lachlan Valley Railway Heritage Centre said he was very excited at the unveiling of this long-term project.

“What started its life as a storage shed has undergone a magical transformation and become a grand building with displays, souvenirs and even refreshments for guests.” Mr Cameron said.

“After having been postponed due to Covid-19, to be able get together for the opening of this building at our museum has been incredible, it brings joy to see visitors able to walk through and appreciate this new building.”

Further to the funding that has built the new entrance building, Lachlan Valley Railway Heritage Centre has successfully obtained a further grant of $19,690 from The Community Building Partnership Program which will go towards building a 5-metre by 15-metre extension to the existing entrance and display building.

The Lachlan Valley Railway Heritage Centre is not just a museum, but an interactive experience and a functional facility where maintenance and restoration works are carried out. It is widely considered and promoted as Cowra’s most significant industrial heritage site.

Cowra Hospital Master Plan Released

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke is strongly encouraging the Cowra community to have their say on the $70.2 million redevelopment of Cowra Hospital with the master plan released today.

Ms Cooke said the redevelopment, which will be built behind the existing hospital on the campus, will ensure patients, staff and the Cowra community have access to the high-quality health services they need close to home.

“As the Cowra Hospital redevelopment takes shape, it is crucial the community takes this opportunity to provide their feedback on the master plan to the project team,” Ms Cooke said.

“The Cowra Hospital master plan outlines the vision of Health Infrastructure for the redevelopment which includes upgraded inpatient beds, contemporary facilities and new health services including the hospital’s first CT scanner.”

The master plan released for the Cowra Hospital includes:

“I continue to advocate in the strongest possible terms to ensure we deliver a hospital that the Cowra community both expects and deserves,” Ms Cooke added.

“The feedback of the community, in addition to that of Health Clinicians and staff, is an essential part of this.”

Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the existing hospital campus provided the perfect location for the upgraded Cowra Health Service, which will include new on-site parking for staff, patients and visitors.

“The project team has been working with Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) staff and clinicians as well as local stakeholders who have provided valuable input into the master plan,” Mrs Taylor said.

“This is an important project for the Cowra community, and everyone to view the master plan and provide their feedback on how we can best meet the health needs of the region.”

Four community information sessions will be held in the Nguluway Room at the Cowra Shire Council over the next fortnight where community members can drop in to view the master plan and ask the project team questions.

In-person community information session times include:

Thursday 31 March, 9.30am – 11.30am

Tuesday 5 April, 9.30am – 11.30am

Thursday 7 April, 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Wednesday 13 April, 11:30am – 1:30pm

Online webinar sessions times include:

Tuesday 5 April, 5 – 6pm

Thursday 7 April, 4.30pm – 5.30pm.

The community is encouraged to register their interest by booking on (02) 9978 5432.

Construction is on track to commence in 2023 and the community will continue to be updated as planning progresses and we move towards construction. 

The Cowra Hospital redevelopment is part of the NSW Government’s record $10.8 billion investment in health infrastructure over four years to 2024-25, with nearly a third of the capital allocation in this financial year going towards regional and rural health facilities. To register for online information sessions and to find out more about the redevelopment, visit

Safety Barrier Installation Set to Begin on Olympic Highway Between Cowra and Albury

Motorists will soon be better protected along the Olympic Highway with safety barriers to be installed between Cowra and Albury from Monday, 21 March 2022.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the State Government has provided $1.5 million under the Saving Lives on Country Roads program for important safety upgrades to help keep motorists safe on our regional roads.

“Flexible safety barriers absorb the impact felt by drivers and their passengers when a crash occurs, minimising the chance of serious injury or death,” Ms Cooke said.

“They are installed on roadsides with the highest risk such as significant curves and steep embankments because they have been found to reduce the severity of high risk, head-on, and run-off road crashes by 95 per cent.”

About eight kilometres of new barrier will be installed in sections between Cowra and Albury, with most of the work concentrated between Cootamundra and Cowra.

From 21 March 2022 motorists are advised of changed traffic conditions including single lane closures, reduced speed limits of 40 km/h and traffic control.

Work to install the barriers will be carried out Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 8am to 4pm. Work is expected to take eight weeks to complete, weather permitting.

Motorists are advised to follow the direction of traffic control and to allow an extra five minutes travel time.

Transport for NSW thanks motorists for their patience during this time.

For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit or call 132 701.

2022 Country Show Season Looking Bright

Country shows in Cowra, Gundagai and Woodstock are coming back bigger than ever in 2022, thanks to NSW Government support through the Country Shows Support Package.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the Country Shows Support Package has delivered funding for three shows in the Cootamundra electorate including $30,000 for the 2022 Cowra Spring Show, $27,919 for the 2022 Gundagai Show and $30,000 for the 2022 Woodstock Memorial Show.

“These grants will provide certainty to show organisers to lock in suppliers, hire equipment and purchase goods, which is also great news for local businesses,” Ms Cooke said.

“Our local shows are a fantastic tradition and this grant will ensure they continue to delight people and be a part of our history for many generations to come.”

“I encourage everyone to get behind their local show and see all the amazing things they have to offer” Ms Cooke said.

“From best grown squash, to wood chopping, petting zoos and watching which dog takes out best in show, there is something for everyone at our country and agricultural shows and it is something the whole family can enjoy together”

“Just recently I attended the 2022 Gundagai show to help out as I have done for the past five years, and it was absolutely amazing seeing so many people enjoying what the show had to offer.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the $5 million Country Shows Support Package provides a funding opportunity for the 190 agricultural shows that are planned across NSW in 2022.

“It’s been a tough few years for country shows, with drought, bushfires, storms, floods and COVID-19 disrupting plans, but as they say, the show must go on and these grants are helping make that happen,” Mr Toole said.

“Country shows are the heartbeat of so many rural communities – they not only celebrate the best of the best in the community but allow visitors to experience the tastes, sights and sounds of the bush.

“It’s also a big win for competitors who have spent years perfecting events like wood-chopping, show jumping or baking, as they can now focus on earning the points needed to compete at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.”

The $5 million Country Shows Support Package is part of the NSW Government’s $200 million Regional Recovery Package, which will deliver long term support and certainty for the regions as the state reopens.

Applications are open until Friday, 29 April 2022, or when funding is exhausted. For further information, including program guidelines and eligibility criteria, go to:

Funding For Veteran Projects In Cowra And Junee

Projects in Cowra and Junee are among more than 50 across NSW set to receive funding to commemorate veterans across the state.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke today announced funding for That Homeschool Life and the Junee Broadway Museum under the latest round of the Anzac Community Grants Program.

“Funds will assist That Homeschool Life with the distribution of the fictional post-war book ‘Jack’s Visit to Cowra’, a children’s story connected to Cowra’s Prisoner of War Campsite,” Ms Cooke said.

“The Broadway Museum will use their funds to protect and preserve the Army Great Coat and the Call to Arms certificate belonging to former Junee resident Corporal Frank Boyton who enlisted on 10th October, 1941.”

“These two projects are unique, among the many ways in which we can honour the service and sacrifice of our veterans.”

“Our small communities will be forever thankful for the sacrifices made by past and present servicemen and servicewomen who have contributed to over a century of service to our nation.”

Minister for Veterans Affairs David Elliott said that more than $56,000 will be provided to support a range of projects.

“Projects being funded will commemorate and educate NSW communities about the service and sacrifices of current and former military servicemen and servicewomen,” Mr Elliott said.

“These great projects and initiatives recognise Australia’s war service history, educate a new generation and support the wellbeing of the NSW veteran community.”

For the full list of 2021 ACGP recipients and more information about the program visit

Strengthening Work Starts On Olympic Highway Near Cowra

Motorists will soon benefit from work to strengthen a section of the Olympic Highway, about 20 kilometres south of Cowra, to make the journey safer and smoother.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said this work would involve strengthening the road, sealing the new surface, and carrying out new line marking along a 1.3 kilometre stretch of road.

“This section of the Olympic Highway is showing signs of wear and tear as it provides the link for a considerable amount of through-traffic between regional and rural communities,” Ms Cooke said.

“Once completed, this work will provide a safer road for motorists, with the added benefit of reducing maintenance costs.”

Cowra Council Shire General Manager Paul Devery said the community would appreciate the upgrade of this section of road.

“The poor condition of this section of the highway has been bothering the community for some time, so we’re extremely happy that it’s going to be fixed,” Mr Devery said.

“This project is also a great example of how councils can partner with the NSW Government to help provide meaningful outcomes for local communities.”

The NSW Government has committed $650,000 for this work, which will be delivered by Cowra Council.

Work will start on Tuesday 1 February and will be carried out from 7am to 6pm on weekdays and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. Work is expected to be complete by 18 March, weather permitting.

Changed traffic conditions including lane closures closest to where work is being carried out and reduced speed limits will be in place for the safety of workers and motorists.

Motorists should allow extra travel time and follow the direction of traffic control and all signs, including reduced speed limit signs.

For the latest traffic updates, download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit or call 132 701.