Supporting Local Jobs with Record Apprentice Intake

The NSW Government has announced it will hire a record number of new apprentices and trainees to work on vital road and transport infrastructure in regional New South Wales.   

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said applications are now open for new apprentices and trainees in Gundagai and Narrandera. 

“This is a very welcome opportunity to train up locals and develop the next generation of skilled workers in the region,” Ms Cooke said. 

“I encourage anyone in Gundagai or Narrandera who may be interested in developing their skills or seeking a new career path working on road and transport infrastructure to take up this opportunity.” 

“It is great the NSW Government is continuing to provide these employment opportunities in regional NSW to support the significant amount of construction, upgrades and maintenance required across the regional transport network.” 

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the program will provide more career opportunities and encourage more people to work in the regions.  

“By investing in our people now, we will attract and develop the next generation of skilled workers to keep NSW moving well into our future,” Mr Farraway said.  

“Applications are now open for 135 placements – an 80 per cent increase on last year – with last year’s intake made up of 46 per cent women and 24 per cent of Aboriginal people, and we’re eager to attract more. 

“We are very proud of this program – while we continue to build and maintain vital infrastructure for customers, it’s critical that we build a skills legacy to meet future needs.” 

Opportunities will be available across 10 disciplines including civil construction, bridge construction, painting and blasting, electrical, heavy diesel mechanic, business administration, project management and three news programs in marketing and communications, finance and safety, environment and quality. 

Currently 76 per cent of apprentices and trainees go on to secure permanent employment at Transport for NSW. 

Applications are open today and close midnight 7 August.  

For more information: 

Road Safety Improvements for Hume Highway as Part of Safer Roads Program

The Hume Highway is set to benefit from $815,000 in vital road safety works as the fifth round of the $822 million Safer Roads Program begins to roll out.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the program, which is funded through the Community Road Safety Fund and delivered in partnership with local councils, will deliver 44 new projects and fund the continuation of a number of projects from previous rounds.

“This project is a big win not only for our local region but the many freight operators and interstate travellers that drive along the Hume Highway,” Ms Cooke said

 “This funding will go towards the installation of vehicle activated signs and safety barriers at Mundarlo to ensure road users are kept as safe as possible when travelling along the route.”

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing the road toll and it’s estimated the Safer Roads Program will prevent around 1500 serious injuries and deaths on NSW roads over 15 years.”

Minister for Regional Roads and Transport Sam Farraway said that the NSW Government is committed to reducing this trauma and that is why the majority of funding for the Safer Roads Program has been invested in regional NSW.

“Country people make up around a third of NSW’s population but over the past five years deaths on country roads made up 67 per cent of our road toll,” Mr Farraway said.

“We are investing $640 million into the Saving Lives on Country Roads Initiative, and since 2018 have committed to delivering 469 projects in regional NSW to help prevent the serious injuries and deaths of country drivers.

“During 2022/23, $89 million will be invested in the Saving Lives on Country Roads Initiative to fund 24 new regional projects as well as a number of ongoing projects in regional NSW.

“The Safer Roads program is estimated to prevent around 1500 serious injuries and deaths on NSW roads over 15 years.”

Statewide this round of the Safer Roads Program will deliver:

  • 32 kilometres of safety barriers, which absorb impact forces and protect vehicle occupants, reducing the severity of head-on and run-off-road crashes by up to 95 per cent.
  • 32 kilometres of rumble strips to alert motorists they are departing from their lane, reducing the likelihood of this crash type by up to 25 per cent.
  • 110 high-risk rural curve improvements including shoulder sealing, safety barriers, rumble strips, signage upgrades and line-marking upgrades.
  • 14 urban intersection improvement projects including roundabouts and traffic signal upgrades.

See here for the full list of successful projects in NSW.

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 Local Men’s Sheds

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke recently announced a total of $36,533 in funding to help upgrade two local men’s sheds.

Gundagai Men’s shed will be receiving $26,515 to install a new and improved ventilation system and also to install a reverse cycle ducted air conditioning system.

“These improvements to the Gundagai Men’s Shed will ensure members can utilise the space in comfortable conditions all year around,” Ms Cooke said.

President of the Gundagai Men’s Shed Tony Tunstell said the shed’s members and the wider community greatly appreciate the funding being provided for better ventilation.

“When the call went out for shovel ready projects this project had been identified for a long time and COVID-19 pushed it to the top,” Mr Tunstell said.

“It will have a significant impact on our health and safety outcomes by removing potentially harmful dust particles in our work environment. The new reverse cycle system will also help us maintain a comfortable temperature during our hottest and coldest months of the year.”

Coolamon Men’s Shed is also set to benefit with $10,018 being provided to install a 6.65-kilowatt solar power system.

“Costs will be greatly reduced by the new system making operations more sustainable for present and future members,” Ms Cooke added.

Coolamon Men’s Shed Secretary Peter Condon said the installation of solar panels will help keep the shed’s electricity costs down and let the group shift their focus back onto their work.

“We are a small club with around 12 active members who just like working with their hands and enjoy tackling all sorts of jobs,” Mr Condon said.

“Men’s sheds are community-based organisations that do a fantastic job by providing men with a welcoming place to work on projects and make friends,” Ms Cooke added.

“They support men to keep active and productive, learn new skills, and share knowledge and experience which contributes positively to the community.”

Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said $1.62 million was being allocated statewide for improvements to men’s sheds, as part of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 stimulus program.

“Men’s sheds are places where men can hang out with mates, learn to build things, pass on skills, and give back to their local community,” Mr Anderson said.

“A study by Beyond Blue found men’s shed members can even fare better on physical functioning, general health, vitality and mental health.”

Australian Men’s Shed Association NSW President John Sharples said the upgrade projects would empower men and create renewed interest.

“We have 377 sheds in NSW with about 20,000 members and this stimulus funding will make a big difference,” Mr Sharples said.

“By improving infrastructure and making workplaces better and safer, we will be able to create a supportive environment that provides opportunities for members to contribute their men’s shed and the wider community.”

Hume Highway Upgrade At Snowball Creek Reaches Next Stage

The Hume Highway transformation at Snowball Creek is moving forward with work on the crossover at Jessops Lagoon Road now complete, and road rehabilitation about to begin.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said work on the $500,000 crossover, seven kilometres south of Gundagai, has been carried out for the past month and will enable southbound traffic to be diverted onto the northbound lanes in a contraflow to allow the next stage of work – a $5 million pavement rehabilitation.

“This work will go a long way to improving safety and efficiency along this stretch of the Hume Highway,” Ms Cooke said.

“It also marks Stage 3 of the complete rebuild and resurface of the Hume Highway to extend its life, improve the surface, and reduce further maintenance costs on this popular stretch of road in regional NSW.”

This latest work will bring the NSW Government investment in this project to $12 million provided under the asset maintenance funding program, with plans for an extra $7 million of future work until 2024.

Work on the crossover is now complete and has opened the way for the pavement rehabilitation on a 1.8 kilometre section of the southbound carriageway to start on Monday 7 February.

During this stage of the work, speed restrictions will be in place with lane closures on both carriageways as they start to set up the contraflow by Saturday 12 February.

From then, southbound lanes will be closed, with traffic to merge under contraflow at the new Jessops Lagoon crossover and south of the Fullers Lane crossover.

There will be no access to Jessops Lagoon Road from the Hume Highway during this stage of the work with motorists advised to travel via Gocup Road, Mount Street, Cross Street or Eagle Street, which will add an extra 10 minutes to journeys.

Work will be carried out between 6am and 11pm Monday to Friday and is expected to be completed by the end of April, weather permitting.

A temporary reduced speed limit of 60 km/h will also be in place for the duration of this work for the safety of workers and motorists.

Motorists are advised to drive to the conditions, allow extra travel time, and follow the directions of signs and traffic control.

Transport for NSW thanks the community for their patience during this time.

For the latest traffic information, visit, download the live traffic app or call the Transport Management Centre on 132 701.

More Funding on the Way for Community Projects in Cootamundra and Gundagai

The communities of Cootamundra and Gundagai are set to benefit with $1,566,786announced for local projectsunder the NSW Government’s latest round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke made the announcements while in the region on Thursday at the Gundagai Racecourse, The Gundagai District Services Club and the Cootamundra Ex-Servicemen’s and Citizens’ Memorial Club.

“Increasing female participation in sport was identified as a priority element in applications by the NSW Government under round four of the fund so I am pleased that these projects reflect that criteria,” Ms Cooke said.

The funding from Round 4 of the Stronger Country Communities Fund has been allocated to three projects:

  • $965,136 for the construction of a new treated effluent irrigation system in Gundagai at the Gundagai District Services Club which will service the nearby golf course, bowling greens and sporting ovals
  • $409,250 to replace exterior walkways and install a new synthetic bowling green and boundary fence at the Cootamundra Ex-Servicemen’s & Citizens’ Memorial Club
  • $192,400 for upgrades to female jockey and public spectator amenities and an extension to the spectator viewing platform at the Gundagai Racecourse

“These projects aim to accommodate everyone whether you’re a player, coach or spectator, making facilities more inviting to get more people outdoors enjoying an active and social lifestyle,” Ms Cooke added.

“The townships of Cootamundra and Gundagai are home to some of the strongest sporting clubs in the region who take pride in their sporting grounds so it is important that we continue to see participation rates increase in the area well into the future.”

General Manager of the Gundagai District Services Club Michael Bolger said the Club in partnership with Cootamundra–Gundagai Shire Council, is extremely excited to have been awarded the funding for the project.

“This irrigation system will complement the newly completed water treatment plant and will improve the lives of people of regional NSW, particularly our iconic town of Gundagai,” Mr Bolger said.

“We are very grateful to Steph Cooke and the NSW Government for supporting this project which is critical in maintaining and improving our community sporting assets such as the golf course, bowling greens and local sporting fields.

“The many stakeholders involved in the groundwork for the application must also be commended for their tireless efforts and we look forward to getting started on this project in 2022.”

President of the Cootamundra Ex-Servicemen’s and Citizens’ Memorial Club Michael Willis said the future of the bowls in the region is looking bright thanks to the NSW Government.

“Along with our growing number of members, we get a lot of requests to use the green from local school groups wanting to develop their skills, businesses wanting to host their Christmas parties here, charity day events and travelling bowls groups,” Mr Willis said.

“Having a state-of-the-art synthetic bowling green will not only benefit our bowlers but the entire district with further usage from members and visitors.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole announced that 435 projects across every single one of the state’s 93 regional Local Government Areas (LGAs) would receive funding under Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four.

“The Stronger Country Communities fund delivers guaranteed investment in every single regional LGA in NSW, and has seen $500 million invested across more than 1900 local projects since 2017,” Mr Toole said.

“About half of this latest $100 million round will deliver 189 female sporting projects, including the construction or upgrade of female change rooms, additional amenity blocks and bathrooms, and playing surfaces like netball and tennis courts.

“It will also deliver hundreds of projects that make everyday life in the regions easier, for things like new playgrounds, clubhouse, art gallery renovations, streetscape, accessibility, lighting upgrades and community programs.”

The Stronger Country Communities Fund is part of the $2 billion Regional Growth Fund, which alongside the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund is delivering infrastructure and programs that generate opportunities, investment and jobs.

For more information, go to:

Timber Salvaged for Prince Alfred Bridge Memorial

460 cubic metres of timber and trestles have been salvaged from the removal of the Prince Alfred Bridge timber road viaduct to support construction of heritage memorial works.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said a public survey seeking community input on memorial options for the former Gundagai icon had attracted 139 submissions.

“It’s great to see the community’s enthusiasm to contribute many thoughtful and creative ideas to remember the bridge and pay tribute to its many years of faithful service to the region,” Ms Cooke said.

“Thankfully a good amount of timber has been salvaged from the bridge after being assessed in suitable condition for potential reuse in heritage memorial works.

“A heritage consultant will now be engaged to assess the survey results and advise on the most appropriate heritage memorial options to honour the bridge’s memory.”

The Prince Alfred Bridge timber road viaduct was removed after an engineering assessment of the disused 125-year-old structure showed significant structural defects, and amid concerns it could collapse in a flood risking life and infrastructure.

Consultations occurred through a working group including representatives from Crown Lands, Transport for NSW, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, Gundagai Bridges Heritage Inc, National Trust, Engineers Australia and the Heritage NSW (Department of Premier and Cabinet).

The separate Prince Alfred iron road bridge, which is still in operation across the Murrumbidgee River, and the nearby disused rail viaduct, both remain in place.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said survey ideas for heritage memorial works ranged from a picnic wharf on the Murrumbidgee River to pedestrian bridges, boardwalk and viewing platforms.

“Other ideas included a sculpture that can be a tourism icon like the Dog on the Tuckerbox, an avenue of trees and walking track, and interactive options including virtual reality or 3D laser displays,” Mrs Pavey said.

“St Patrick’s Primary School students made suggestions including park furniture, a mini replica of the bridge, and even a town Christmas tree.”

Further information on the survey results is at Gundagai Historic Bridges.

All Hands on Deck at Gundagai Courthouse

The court that hosted Captain Moonlite’s committal hearing is having its historic clock repaired in the bright light of day.

Member for Cootamundra Stephanie Cooke said the work on the 162 year old clock at the Gundagai Courthouse will help it keep up with the times.

“Gundagai Courthouse really has stood the test of time, keeping law in order this year. This repair work will ensure the historic clock continues to function well into the future,” Ms Cooke said,

The $21,000 maintenance project requires an upgrade of the system to the latest technology which would include a GPS synchroniser, providing split second reliability and resetting after a power outage and automatic daylight savings adjustments.

The first step is removing the existing hands which will need to be adjusted to fit the new mechanism. Once the clock has been repaired, the hands will be reinstated to their original condition.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the NSW Government was continuing to invest in the maintenance of the state’s courthouses.

“As well as being important centres for administering justice, Courthouses are significant local landmarks for the communities they serve. The NSW Government is working hard to upgrade these historic buildings to ensure they are looking their best and are fit for the future,” Mr Speakman said.

The National Trust listed building was designed by NSW government architects Alexander Dawson and Walter Liberty Vernon and is scene of many colourful court cases.

After his committal hearing at Gundagai, bushranger Captain Moonlite was sent to Darlinghurst Gaol where he was hanged in 1880. Originally buried in an unmarked grave at Rookwood, his remains were moved in 1995 to the North Gundagai Cemetery.

Have your say on Prince Alfred Bridge Memorial Options

Residents of Gundagai and surrounding areas who share fond memories of the Prince Alfred Bridge are invited to have their say and submit their ideas on how they would like to see the much-loved structure memorialised.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the NSW Government had recently opened a community survey to get ideas and feedback on potential options to celebrate and remember the important role the bridge has played in the community.

“An online community survey is now open, and I strongly encourage residents to come forward, have their say to share their ideas on how best we can celebrate and remember the historic structure,” Ms Cooke said.

“Over the years I have heard many beautiful stories and memories people have of the bridge. Members of the community have previously also shared many wonderful ideas on how to memorialise the bridge when the time came for its removal.”

“Planning is underway to remove the bridge as soon as possible to ensure public safety, so now is the time for the community to step forward to play an active role in the planning for a tribute to the cherished bridge by re-sharing their personal stories and ideas.”

The timber road viaduct has been closed to traffic since 1984 and recent engineering assessments showed major structural defects, posing significant risks to life and other infrastructure.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey the NSW Government will consider all community feedback from the survey and prepare memorial options for the community’s consideration and endorsement.

“It is hoped that if there are salvageable materials from the viaduct that these can be reused as part of a local tribute,” Mrs Pavey said.

For more information and to have your say on memorialising the bridge visit

125 Year old Prince Alfred Bridge to be removed but not forgotten

The NSW Government has today announced that the 125 year old Prince Alfred Bridge in Gundagai will soon be removed due to the significant risks posed to both people and structures downstream.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said removing the timber structure, which has been closed to traffic since 1984, was necessary after an engineering assessment showed significant structural defects and concerns it would collapse even in a relatively minor flood event, posing significant risks to life and other infrastructure.

“While it’s sad to say goodbye to this piece of local history, it’s just not feasible to restore or replace the 125 year old timber viaduct,” Mrs Pavey said.

“But I want to reassure the community that the NSW Government wants to hear what the community has to say and their thoughts on the options to preserve the history of the bridge for future generations, with salvageable materials to be reused as part of a local tribute where possible.”

Work to remove the structure is expected to start in late November 2021 and be completed in December, following planning and environmental approvals.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said locals were encouraged to play an active role in planning to memorialise the much-loved bridge.

“There is an opportunity to create a place for locals and visitors to congregate, that celebrates the bridge’s history and the valuable role it has played in the community,” Ms Cooke said.

“Options will be considered on how best to capture the historical significance of the bridge and how to share the great memories many locals have of the bridge. We will be reaching out to the community soon for feedback so when the time comes, I urge the people of Gundagai to put forward their suggestions on what the memorial may look like.”

“I thank the many people who have been involved in the discussions about the bridge over several years, especially the passionate members of Gundagai Bridges Heritage Inc.”

Consultations on the future of the structure have occurred over many years and recently through a working group including the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands, Transport for NSW, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, Gundagai Bridges Heritage Inc, the National Trust, Engineering Australia, and Office of Environment and Heritage.

We understand this is a significant loss for the Gundagai community but the ongoing risk to life and other infrastructure is too great.

In May 2021, an oversized truck hit the structure, forcing a section of the viaduct to be removed over O I Bell Drive. Since this time the ongoing wet weather in the area has significantly accelerated the deterioration of the bridge’s condition.

The separate Prince Alfred iron road bridge which is still in operation across the Murrumbidgee River, and the nearby disused rail viaduct, will both remain in place.

For more information visit

and the project team can be contacted on

Images can be found here