Bronze “Bill the Bastard” unveiling

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke has welcomed the official unveiling of a bronze, life-size sculpture of Australia’s greatest war horse, ‘Bill the Bastard’, at a ceremony in Harden Murrumburrah.

Ms Cooke said it was fantastic to see the statue in-situ at Murrumburrah, the birthplace of the Australian Light Horse.

“This project has been a long time in the works and is an absolute credit to the dedication and perseverance of many deeply passionate members in this community.

“Bill is a source of great pride for all involved and an absolute drawcard to Harden Murrumburrah and the Hilltops region more broadly.”

The project was made possible thanks to over $400,000 in funding from the NSW Government’s Stronger Communities Fund.

Major donations and contributions alongside that of the NSW Government were:

  • $200,000 raised amongst the local community,
  • $100,000 from the Kruger Trust,
  • $80,000 from Harden Regional Development Corporation,
  • $30,000 from Mr Bill Gibbons of Victoria.

The ‘Bill the Bastard’ statue was created by local sculptor Mr Carl Valerius and bronzed by Mr Matt Crawford of Crawford’s Casting.

Speaking at the unveiling, Mr Valerius said it was a fabulous outcome for the community.

“To have an idea and believe in it, you can achieve almost anything. I thank the State Government for their support and belief in a little old sculpture in a town like Murrumburrah.”

Special guests present at the ceremony also included Brigadier Glen Ryan from Victoria Barracks in Sydney, along with 97yr old Mr Keith Taylor who travelled from Uranquinty for the occasion.

The sculpture of ‘Bill the Bastard’ and his five riders can be found at the 1st Australian Horse and Australian Light Horse Memorial precinct in Murrumburrah.

For more information, please visit Home – Bill the Bastard.

New Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service Officially Opened

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) patients will benefit from the new Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service, which has been officially opened today.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke opened the new 33-bed purpose-built facility which will deliver enhanced health and aged care services closer to home.

“Based on the Multipurpose Service (MPS) model, this health service will future-proof care in the region by integrating health, aged care and emergency services under one roof,” Ms Cooke said.

“This project also includes the addition of three new staff accommodation units, so teams have a comfortable, modern place to call home.”

“It has been a pleasure to have been beside the community for the duration of this project and I wish to thank everyone who has taken the time to contact me about the project over this time.”

Ms Cooke said the official opening of the Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service is a significant milestone to have achieved, amongst several crucial Health Infrastructure projects being delivered across the Cootamundra electorate.

“We have six new NSW Ambulance stations at Ardlethan, Coolamon, Cootamundra, Cowra, Grenfell and Harden, an $80 million redevelopment of Temora Hospital recently announced and we are well into the master-planning phase of the redevelopment of Cowra Hospital.”

“Additionally, we are seeing major investment in our neighbouring areas with redevelopments of Tumut, Wagga and Griffith hospitals,” Ms Cooke added.

The redevelopment of the Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service is part of the fifth stage of the $297 million NSW Government’s MPS program aimed at improving access to health and aged care services for small and remote rural communities.

“It is my privilege to lead a dedicated team who are always striving to improve the health of their community,” Jill Ludford, MLHD Chief Executive said.

The investment in this MPS facility is part of the NSW Government’s record $10.8 billion investment in health infrastructure over four years to 2024-25.

A third of the capital allocation in this financial year is going towards new and upgraded regional and rural health facilities.

The 2021-22 budget for Murrumbidgee Local Health District is over $687 million, an increase of more than $29 million, or 4.4 per cent more, on the previous year’s budget.

Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, MLHD increased its workforce by an additional 637 full-time equivalent staff – an increase of 23.3 per cent including 54 more doctors, 334 more nurses and midwives and 103 more allied health staff.

Upgrades On The Way For The Harden Murrumburrah & District War Memorial Pool

The Harden – Murrumburrah & District War Memorial Pool will soon receive much-needed upgrades through a $997,500 grant under the NSW Government’s Regional Sport Facility Fund.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke made the announcement on Tuesday at the Harden – Murrumburrah & District War Memorial Pool joined by Hilltops Mayor Margaret Roles and Deputy Mayor Alison Foreman.

“The grant will go towards the upgrade and replacement of the existing filtration systems at the pool to ensure it meets the required safety standards,” Ms Cooke said.

“A pool hoist will also be installed which will be a great addition to the facility to improve accessibility and encourage inclusivity.

“Given our regions climate and natural surroundings, it is important that all residents in our small towns and villages have a fit-for-purpose place to cool off and learn foundational swimming skills.” 

Hilltops Council General Manager Anthony O’Reilly said the upgrades will improve the standard of the facility and will provide the Hilltops community with a safe pool for swimming and recreation.

“The pool is an important social space that has connectivity with several other facilities in the area such as the Harden caravan park, nearby BBQ facilities, and direct access from the main highway,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“The installation of the Pelican Pool Hoist will provide inclusive access to community members and visitors of all mobility levels.”

The Hilltops Council is among 41 regional NSW organisations to share in more than $24 million for new and upgraded sports facilities in Round 2 of the Fund.

This latest announcement for the Harden – Murrumburrah & District War Memorial Pool is one in a series of grants for swimming pools in the Hilltops Council Local Government Area including a total of $2,892,962 for upgrades to the Young Aquatic Centre funded under Round 1 of the Stronger Communities Fund and Round 2 and 3 of the Stronger Country Communities Fund.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the Regional Sport Facility Fund had provided more than $49 million over two years to increase participation and promote healthy lifestyles, with 41 sporting organisations successful in Round 2.

For the full list of recipients and further information on the Fund visit:

New Cricket Facilities in Murrumburrah Now Open

Harden and District Junior Cricket Club is ready to challenge for more titles and welcome further participants following the completion of new cricket nets and an upgraded centre wicket at their facility at Murrumburrah Public School.

The $95,000 project was made possible with contributions from the NSW Government’s Local Sport Grant Program, the Australian Cricket Infrastructure Fund in partnership with Cricket Australia, the Geoffrey Kruger Trust and Hilltops Council.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the upgrades will ensure all players can enjoy the game in a fun and safe environment.

“This project will deliver fit-for-purpose facilities that meet the needs of the local community and provide greater safety for our junior players,” Ms Cooke said.

“Cricket is a much-loved game across our towns and villages and these upgrades will ensure the game continues to grow by providing a fun and inclusive environment.”

General Manager Hilltops Council Anthony O’Reilly said Hilltops Council acknowledge the importance of community sport and access to sporting opportunities.

“We are pleased to have supported the Harden and District Junior Cricket Club via our Financial Assistance and Sponsorship Program to deliver this important project,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Minister for Sport Natalie Ward said the project was a great example of how the Local Sport Grant Program is supporting the growth of regular and ongoing participation opportunities.

“The NSW Government has provided more than $25 million to support 4,878 grassroots sports club projects over six years through the Local Sport Grant Program,” Mrs Ward said.

“I’m proud to see the positive impact it’s having on participation by improving access and enhancing facilities so that more people across NSW can enjoy all the benefits sport has to offer.”

Cricket NSW Chief Executive Officer Lee Germon said the new and upgraded facilities will help to foster the love of cricket in the local community.

“These facilities will not only ensure more locals can play and love our game, but it will also enhance the development of junior cricketers in the local community,” Mr Germon said.

“These projects are often not possible without a partnership approach to funding, and we are very appreciative for the support of the Australian Cricket Infrastructure Fund in partnership with Cricket Australia for their significant contribution, in addition to the Geoffrey Kruger Trust, Local Sport Grant Program and Hilltops Council.”

For more information, visit:

Hilltops Community Projects Receive Funding Boost

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has announced $2,259,410 for projects in Harden, Murrumburrah and Young in the Hilltops region under the NSW Government’s latest round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund.

Ms Cooke announced the successful projects on Monday afternoon joined by members of the community at the Murrumburrah Silos and the Harden Bowling Club.

“The diverse range of projects will ensure the area is fit for the future for both residents and visitors,” Ms Cooke said.

“It is great to see so many worthy organisations putting their plans forward for the benefit of the wider community.”

President of the Harden Bowling Club Shane McKellar said the funding will go towards well overdue upgrades.

“It’s unbelievable that our plans that have been in the making for years, can finally become a reality,” Mr McKellar said.

Secretary Treasurer of the Harden Murrumburrah Arts Council Lorraine Brown said the group is very excited to be able to complete the other side of the silos.

“When you drive into town from the Western side, the silos are bare so we are excited that we can now fill that space with wonderful artwork,” Ms Brown added.

“We’re going to continue the theme of Colonial Australia with paintings of the Gold Rush to reflect the history of Murrumburrah.”

The funding from round four of the fund has been spread across eight projects, each of which is set to benefit the community including:

  • $469,360 to upgrade the riding arena including covering at the Young Pony Club
  • $50,000 to construct new seating and shading at the Harden District Bowling Club
  • $164,471 to improve jockey amenities at the Harden Racecourse
  • $92,763 to complete silo art at the former Murrumburrah Flour Mill
  • $295,245 for refurbishments to the Southern Cross Hall including sound and lighting
  • $792,416 for Lambing Flat Enterprises to upgrade the Community Connections building including improving site accessibility
  • $102,645 for court refurbishments at the Young PCYC sport courts
  • $292,510 for improvements to facilities at Toompang Racecourse

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: