Ricki-Lee, Alfie Arcuri, convict reenactments and a selfie booth were just some of the activities, events and performances on offer at The Hills Shire Council’s biggest ever Australia Day celebrations last Thursday, January 26.

More than 30,000 residents and visitors to The Hills made their way to historic Bella Vista Farm dressed in their best Australiana themed outfits and armed with their picnics, rugs and chairs to celebrate the national holiday.

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Councillor Yvonne Keane said she was overjoyed to see so many people coming together to enjoy the array of activities on offer including amusement park rides, barnyard animals, face painting, sheep shearing and a fireworks display.

“There was a real warmth and family-friendly atmosphere at our event and I am so ecstatic that so many people chose to celebrate our national day with us in The Hills,” Mayor Keane said.

“Blinky Bill was a big hit with our young festivalgoers, while countrysinger Ben Ransom and Ricki-Lee had everyone up and dancing to all their phenomenal songs.

“The day also provided a wonderful opportunity to stop, reflect and acknowledge how fortunate we are to live in this beautiful, vibrant and stunning community,” Mayor Keane added.

To add to the activities, new Australian citizens were welcomed into The Hills community and Australia Day Award winners were recognised and congratulated for everything they do to make The Hills Shire a great place to live.

“On the day, I was honoured to welcome 30 new citizens and their families into The Hills. They have come from all over the world to make our Shire their new home,” Mayor Keane said.

“I would also like to congratulate all our Australia Day Award winners and nominees.

“Our Australia Day Citizens of the Year were Marco Capobianco and Chris Lee from non-profit organisation Conviction Group. These remarkable young men teach teenagers, more specifically males aged 13 to 16, on how to build their emotional resilience, boost positive thinking and how to manage life’s challenges. They are game-changers and commendable individuals.

“The ceremony was also a very emotional time for myself, Deputy Mayor Robyn Preston and many others watching on in the audience who have seen how hard these wonderful people work without wanting or needing any recognition for the jobs they do to improve our spectacular community.

“A big thank you once again to our award winners and nominees. You truly are amazing and deserving of your recognition.

“I also want to thank our staff and many wonderful volunteers for making the day such a special occasion, as well as our many sponsors, particularly Hillsbus, Moove Media, Hills Family Funerals, KIIS 1065, Holden Castle Hill, Wet ‘n’ Wild Sydney, Virgin Active Norwest and Cleanaway.”


Local Land Services Chair of the Board of Chairs, Tim de Mestre today formally announced the 2017 Local Land Services locally elected board member elections would be held at the end of May and called for nominations from interested ratepayers.

Local Land Services is gearing up for its second local board election in 2017 where local representatives are elected by ratepayers for each of the 11 local boards.

“The 2017 local board elections will take place on 31 May 2017, with candidate nominations open from today,” Mr de Mestre said.

“The contribution of local board members in the past three years has resulted in the delivery of high-quality, integrated services to landholders and has been important to ensure those services are in touch with the needs of local communities.”

Mr de Mestre said one of the most important aspects of the 2017 elections was giving as many ratepayers as possible the chance to have their say and Local Land Services regions had already begun a campaign to encourage ratepayers to enrol to vote.

“Enrolling and voting ensures strong local representation and helps guarantee that local boards are representing the needs of ratepayers in their regions,” he said.

“Enrolments close on 31 March 2017 to ensure that ratepayers are sent ballot papers by email if they are voting online or by post for hard copy ballot papers.”

Candidate nominations for local board members also opened today and close at 12 pm on Friday 31 March 2017.

Three of the seven local board members in 10 regions and four in the Western region are elected by Local Land Services ratepayers. The remaining members and the Chair are Ministerially-appointed.

“Together, the elected and appointed board members play an important role in setting the strategic direction of the organisation, promoting the services offered and communicating the priorities and concerns of customers to local boards,” Mr de Mestre said.

Information about the election process and an enrolment form will be posted in mid February.

Key dates:
Enrolments: Open now and close 5 pm 31 March 2017
Nominations: Open now and close 12 pm 27 March 2017 Voting: Opens 8 May and closes 5 pm 31 May 2017
Announcement: Board members will be announced by the end of June 2017


The Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour will this year celebrate a 15-year milestone, with the iconic Emirates Melbourne Cup trophy set to visit more than 30 destinations in its annual trek across Australia and New Zealand.

To ensure the North Western Sydney community have an opportunity to secure a visit from the 18-carat gold Cup in this milestone year, the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) will open the tender process early for the 2017 Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour with submissions now being accepted.

Since 2003, the revered Melbourne Cup has travelled more than 456,000 kilometers to rural, regional and metropolitan communities across Australia and New Zealand.

“The VRC created the concept of the Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour with the aim to provide communities without easy geographical access to the Melbourne Cup an opportunity to experience the magic of the trophy first-hand,” said VRC Chief Executive Simon Love.

“We never dreamed that the Tour would evolve into such a significant community event, which 15 years later, continues to grow in popularity.

“We are humbled by the pleasure the Cup provides to people of all ages, and want to ensure that as many communities as possible share the same unique opportunity again this year,” said Mr Love.

In 2016, the $175,000 gold trophy toured 34 destinations, providing schools, councils, hospitals, agedcare facilities and racing clubs with a unique opportunity to host a day of community events and raise valuable funds for local causes.

Past racing legends also accompany the Cup each year on its epic journey to recount some of the remarkable stories intrinsically linked to the ‘race that stops a nation™’.

While the winner of the first Melbourne Cup in 1861 received a gold watch, today’s three handled ‘loving cup’ is made from 44 pieces of hand-beaten gold sourced from West Wyalong in NSW, and crafted over 200 hours by ABC Bullion.

Last year the Tour stopped off to visit the gold mine, creating a memorable encounter for residents of the Bland Shire Council.

“It’s remarkable to think that a town the size of West Wyalong is now well and truly on the map, and elevated into the Melbourne Cup history books, through its contribution to this piece of true Australian culture,” said Ray Smith of Bland Shire Council.

“Having the Emirates Melbourne Cup visit our region was a proud moment for our community and one I’m sure will be remembered for many years to come.”

The 2017 Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour welcomes submissions from community groups, councils and racing bodies in rural and regional areas as well as capital cities, with successful destinations to be announced in June.

Each host destination selected makes a commitment to provide memorable and engaging community events involving the Cup for everyone to enjoy. Local fundraising initiatives will also be supported.

The Tour officially commences in July 2017, before the Cup returns to Melbourne for the running of the 157th Emirates Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November.

Tenders to be submitted at melbournecuptour.com.au by 5pm (AEST) on Monday 3 April.