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.

Student from Murrumburrah Recognised at NSW Training Awards

The region’s most outstanding apprentices, trainees, students and teachers were recognised at the Riverina 2022 NSW Training Awards ceremony last week in Griffith.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has congratulated William Kemp from Murrumburrah who took out the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award at the ceremony.

“William has strong character values, is honest and reliable and can master almost anything he sets his mind to,” Ms Cooke said.

“From a young age William showed an interest in the building trade, assisting his Dad on home projects which led him to undertake studying carpentry. He is now excelling in his current job and is seen as a role model to his peers. I congratulate William on this well-deserved honour.”

Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the enormous breadth of talent amongst this year’s finalists and winners demonstrates the opportunities available for rewarding careers available through vocational education and training.

“Vocational education and training delivers real-life skills for people to help them get the jobs they want and it’s great to see so many passionate and enthusiastic young people receiving awards locally,” Mr Henskens said.

“The NSW Government is delivering a range of fee-free and low-fee training to help people get their first job, a new job or a better job, and these awards are a great way to highlight the career opportunities that are available right here in NSW.” 

For more information, visit

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:

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:

New Amenities for Murrumburrah Showground

Steph Cooke and Kim Hill with the Murrumburrah Showground Land Managers. They hold a large cheque, horse floats can be seen behind them.
Steph Cooke and Kim Hill with the Murrumburrah Showground Land Managers

Murrumburrah Showground will soon be enjoying new amenities thanks to support from the NSW Government.

A $44,000 grant from the Crown Reserves Improvement Fund (CRIF) will help create the new toilet block and is the latest NSW Government grant supporting upgrades at the showground.

The CRIF funding brings the total investment in to the Murrumburrah Showground to $873,757 with the following previously received:

  • $269,148 for electrical upgrades
  • $326,690 to upgrade toilet and shower facilities
  • $21,247 to replace the ceiling and paint the interior of the Cowabbie building, repair and paint its entrance gates, and paint the inside of the lunch pavilion.
  • $212,672 to construct a new multipurpose operations centre to replace a demolished building that had reached the end of its life.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the amount of work at the showground was staggering.

“The Murrumburrah Showground Land Managers have done a fantastic job in tackling a huge amount of work in stages, enhancing this community space to ensure it can be used by everyone for years to come,” Ms Cooke said. 

“These accessible facilities will ensure everyone feels welcome at the kennel club and can enjoy the activities there.”

“I want to congratulate the showground land managers for their hard work.”

Deputy Chair of the Murrumburrah Showground Land Manager Kim Hill said the NSW Government investment had helped transform the community asset.

“This funding will replace the amenities in the kennel club section of the showground, at the moment the facilities were quite dilapidated so this will give all users clean, modern and accessible facilities,” Ms Hill said.

“This is great, there’s so much happening over at the showground and there are now very few of those older buildings left.”

“All of it has been thanks to NSW Government funding, the showground is very appreciative of the NSW Government support to upgrade our amenities.”