There is more than meets the eye when it comes to Hay; an unassuming Riverina town whose vast open grasslands and off-the-beaten-track location are home to a vibrant, cultured community.
Situated atop one of the flattest stretches of land in the country, at the crossroads of three major highways, the township of Hay is as unique as the countryside it was founded on. It is a fascinating pocket of country NSW, with the natural wonders of the nearby Murrumbidgee River and One Tree Plain worth a visit alone. Add in a history that is diverse and rich in stories of tireless shearers, prisoners of war and agricultural triumph, and Hay is a surprising settlement with more secrets than your average stopover town.
With a plethora of stories to tell and legends to share, it should come as no shock that Hay is home to a number of world-class museums. For a sobering experience, a visit to the Dunera Museum delves into the lives and living conditions of thousands of Japanese, Italian and German inmates held in the Hay prison camps during World War I. Or discover the Hay Gaol Museum, which has had multiple incarnations since its initial stint as a gaol, including an insane asylum, institute for girls and maternity hospital.
At the historic Murray Downs woolshed is Shear Outback, a leading-edge centre that offers a glimpse into the fascinating and legendary shearing industry. Living and working conditions are explored, how shearing has changed and developed is explained, and daily shearing demonstrations are held. For an insight into an industry that has helped shaped our national identity, not to mention celebrates the hard-work of everyday Australians, this is the place to visit.
Architect John Sulman designed this iron house in 1888 and today it remains one of Hay’s most popular historical buildings. Built to combat the often extreme climate conditions Hay experiences, the house is a pristine example of 19th century architecture, and boasts a pretty impressive rose garden as well. The beautiful collection of heritage roses are well worth a wander through, or you could sit back and literally smell the roses with a cuppa in hand.
Whether it’s a picture-perfect camping space you’re after, a tranquil picnic spot or the local swimming hole, Sandy Point Reserve will have you covered. On the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Sandy Point has electric barbeques, flushing toilets, covered picnic tables and a boat ramp, ensuring you can enjoy the great outdoors, along with a few extra creature comforts. Be careful though, an afternoon of relaxation under the River Red Gums will have you not wanting to leave this picturesque rest area.
Hay is part of the Western Riverina district of NSW, and is only a day’s car travel from many of Australia’s capital cities.
Melbourne is closest, and via the Cobb Highway Hay is only 4 hours and 45 minutes away. At approximately 735km away, Sydneysiders can visit Hay via the Sturt Highway in under 8 hours.
Regional train service CountryLink and VLine also runs regular services to Hay from Sydney and via Mildura from Melbourne.
When it’s sunny all year round, is there ever a bad time to visit Hay? Prepare for warmer temperatures in summer, as the average temperature hovers around 33 degrees Celsius, but enjoy a much milder, agreeable climate the rest of the year. Autumn, when the deciduous trees are in full colour, is a particularly stunning time to visit.
Foodworks on Lachlan Street is a one-stop shop for all your grocery requirements in Hay.
For some of the best baked goods in town, and a look at one of the biggest private bakeries in the Riverina district, visit Robbo’s Bakery in Lachlan Street.
Both Big4 Hay Plains Holiday Park and Hay Caravan Park have RV dump points. They are free for registered guests, but a fee may incur for the use of the dump point only.