Walcha Council will apply for funds under the Drought Communities Program

The design of the new bar and entertainment centre at the Walcha Showground
The design of the new bar and entertainment centre at the Walcha Showground

Walcha Council has decided what it will apply to spend one million dollars on across the region. The money is available to all New England councils under a special extension to the Drought Communities Program.

Council general manager Jack O’Hara said councillors consulted with community members across the shire to finalise the list of projects.

“The vast majority of the money will be spent at the showground replacing the old bar with a new bar, new toilets, cool room and stage area,” Mr O’Hara said.

“We are also going to fund work at all the small villages. 

At Yarrowitch they are going to renew the boundary and renovate existing amenities at the sports ground.

At Nowendoc the recreation club is going to do fencing, signage and picnic tables, the tennis club is going to put in a barbecue area and a shed, and at the Nowendoc Hall, the bathroom facilities will get an upgrade.

At Woolbrook they are upgrading the sports ground while the Inglebah Hall will get the walls lined.”

Tim Norton

Tim Norton

Mr O’Hara said the aim of the grant is to generate local employment, but Council was keen that the $1million cash splash left a lasting legacy for future generations. 

“It was lucky that the showground had a plan ready to go which made it easy for us,” he said. 

Tim Norton is chair of the Walcha Showground and Public Recreation Land Managers group, and he said his committee had developed the showground project to be shovel ready ahead of the federal election on the chance there was money being handed out.

“This facility will be used by the entire community as there are not many weeks go by when the showground is not being used for some kind of event,” he said.

Barnaby Joyce said he would support the application because the money would be spread across the villages as well..

I want to see the benefits in those smaller towns

Barnaby Joyce

“With the money we fought for in the drought I want to see the benefits in those smaller towns because that has always been at the centre of my political ethos,” he said.

“You’ve got to make sure you look after the Nowendocs, you’ve got to make sure you look after the Niangalas, you’ve got to make sure look after the Woolbrooks...and look after the Walchas. Sometimes people ignore people on the edges and these towns just think  – are we irrelevant ?– the showground should be good.”

Mr O’Hara said the application for the money would be submitted this week and all construction needed to be completed by June 30, 2019.

“Local contractors will be invited to tender for the work, and 100 per cent of the money will be spent through local businesses,” he said.

The old bar and toilet block that will be demolished to make way for the new facility at the Walcha Showground

The old bar and toilet block that will be demolished to make way for the new facility at the Walcha Showground