Community Development

In early 2021, the MDPA conducted a survey of over 100 visitors  to Merriwa. The goal of the survey was to collect the opinions and suggestions of visitors.

The outcome (summarised in a press release) provided a rich insight into what more we can do to retain people in our town, including:

  • more seating in the main street to relax in the shade
  • installing street art and historical information
  • having a main street makeover
  • walking and cycle tracks around town
  • tourist drives
  • a heavy haulage bypass around town
  • more events after running of the sheep (Festival of the Fleeces)
  • having more venues open for meals on weekends
  • and a larger, more private caravan park that is not directly fronting the highway.

You can also see our Publications page for full results of this survey.

The MDPA provided feedback to the Council on the design of the new Driver Reviver facilities (now in operation). Despite a tight deadline for providing feedback, we were able to affect the design of the facilities. Our appreciation goes to Council for their work on the new facility and for taking on board suggestions for a more enhanced facility. Feedback to Council can be found here.

The 2021 elected Council members for the Upper Hunter Shire Council are our representatives and will help steer us into the future. Given the role of a  Councillor holds a significant burden of responsibility, the MDPA believes the votes of community members should be based on a clear understanding of the candidates’ goals and aspirations for the local area.

To assist with our decision-making when casting our votes, the MDPA hosted a public forum allowing candidates for the Upper Hunter by-election to address the community.

The Merriwa District Progress Association lobbied Council to remove the white stains from the dark brickwork on the exterior of the swimming pool building.

The pool is a major part of family life in Merriwa and an important community hub.

Asking Council to make improvements to the signage of the Visitors Information Centre.

Continued lobbying Council to replace damaged footpaths in the Merriwa CBD

Having Council resolve problems with several parking spaces in Bettington Street.

Advised Council of the apparent leaking of the Merriwa Olympic Swimming Pool and excessive water discharging into Witneys Creek.

The Merriwa District Progress Association has contributed to workshops held during the development of the Council’s Upper Hunter Destination Management Plan.


The Merriwa Progress Association has been lobbying and working with Council to carry out upgrades and improvements to the doctors surgery in Bettington Street.

The improvements have been completed.

The Merriwa District Progress Association reviewed proposed amendments to the Merriwa Heritage Conservation Area and submitted comments to Council for consideration.

We successfully convinced Council to reduce the extent of the Heritage Conservation Area.

The Merriwa District Progress Association has liaised with Hunter New England Health to clarify the policy regarding transport when patients are discharged from hospital.

The MDPA proudly supported the VRA’s applications for grant funding to construct a new depot headquarters.

Along with many local community members and groups, the Merriwa District Progress Association have added a voice to the lobbying for a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic visit Merriwa.

The full weight of our efforts came into fruition with a pop-up clinic and a follow-up clinic.

The Merriwa District Progress Association supported the Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance objecting to a proposed power transmission line through prime agricultural land on the Merriwa plateau.

When mains power is unavailable, Telstra’s mobile tower is powered by batteries. However, the batteries were aged and would not maintain the mobile phone service for an extended length of time.

Given our reliance on mobile phones for communications -especially in emergency situations – and for some medical apparatus (such as Vitalcall) – the lack of network coverage was a  significant issue.

The Merriwa District Progress Association began negotiations with Telstra’s Regional Experience Specialist in July 2021 to rectify this situation. Telstra initially said they were unaware there was a problem, but agreed to begin investigations.

After months of discussions with Telstra, we are pleased to announce that Telstra has now replaced the batteries that power the exchange during power outages, and has scheduled regular monitoring, commencing in the second quarter of 2022.

A disturbing discovery has been that the batteries are not designed to cope with extended power outages such as the Ausgrid scheduled linework shutdowns. So, Telstra mobile phone users could potentially still lose service if the mains power is disconnected for several hours.

We have referred this matter to our local Federal member, Barnaby Joyce, who has asked Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications to give urgent consideration to the problems being experienced in Merriwa. We can only hope that a more reliable and permanent solution can be put in place.

Working with Council

The Delivery Program and Operational Plan (DPOP) is one of the most defining documents for the local region. It sets out and determines the Council’s vision, mission, charter, objectives, functions, activities, services and performance indicators (and more). The Merriwa District Progress Association reviews the DPOP each year and lodges a submission to Council.

Reviewed the Upper Hunter Shire Waste Management Strategy and lodged a submission to Council.

The Merriwa District Progress Association lobbied Council to not sell off earthmoving and road maintenance plant.

Advised Council of the dangers of B-double trucks using the Scone Road.

Advised Council of the apparent leaking of the Merriwa Olympic Swimming Pool and excessive water discharging into Witneys Creek.

Visitors who are disabled or have limited mobility can once again enter the Merriwa cemetery with their mobility aids to pay tribute to their dearly departed loved ones.

The Merriwa District Progress Association successfully negotiated with the Upper Hunter Shire Council to remove the padlocks on three gates at the cemetery.

Council had locked these gates during 2019 due to unauthorised works being carried out at the cemetery. Many people may not be aware that they require Council approval prior to carrying out any works at the cemetery. Enquiries regarding any works should be directed to the Merriwa Council office.

The Progress Association would like to applaud Council for its cooperation in this matter. It urges all visitors to respect those memorials dedicated to the deceased, and to comply with Council’s rules regarding any works.

The Merriwa District Progress Association has lobbied Council to update all Alcohol Free road signs. Updated signs have been installed and the Council has recently approved the zones until 5 April 2026.

And Other Plans ...

The Merriwa Town Centre Masterplan sets out “a strategic framework to revitalise the town centre and establish the key direction for the town over the next 15+ years, with the aim of creating a safe, attractive and thriving town centre well into the future.

The purpose of this Masterplan is to provide Council and the community with a roadmap for positive change. It identifies the key components and implementation steps needed to realise the vision”

Ref: Page 5, The Merriwa Town Centre Masterplan.

The Upper Hunter Shire Destination Management Plan (2021) (DMP) for the Upper Hunter is the result of community and industry consultation from November 2020 – February 2021.

“A variety of workshops and meetings have been facilitated to enable as many stakeholders as possible to contribute. In addition, extensive research and analysis has been carried out to determine the destinations points of uniqueness and difference and to help ensure that points of difference are captured between the various communities throughout the shire who reside in or close to Aberdeen, Merriwa, Murrurundi and Scone.”

Ref: Page 2, The Upper Hunter Shire Destination Management Plan.

The purpose of the Golden Highway Corridor Strategy (2016) “is to summarise the issues raised by community members and stakeholders through formal submissions in response to the public exhibition of the Golden Highway Draft Corridor Strategy.

The report details how the feedback presented by key stakeholders, community groups and individuals during the consultation period has been addressed to update the final Golden Highway Corridor Strategy document.”

Ref: Page 2, Golden Highway Corridor Strategy.