A cycling adventure in Hay

Hay seems built to be explored on two wheels. Set in the heart of Australia’s flattest terrain in the Hay Plains, some of the country’s most remarkable pieces of history come together just a few kilometres apart.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Jun 30 -
3
min read
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Hay is about 125km north of Deniliquin, the biggest town in the Edward River region, and makes an ideal day trip from ‘Deni’, as the locals call it. To get there, you’ll drive across the Hay Plains. There’s just 17 metres difference between the lowest and highest points on the plains; that makes it the flattest place in the Southern Hemisphere and the third flattest place on earth. Perfect for a cycling tour.

But don’t be fooled into thinking flat equates to boring. This remarkable landscape makes for uninterrupted 360-degree views, where you can appreciate the rolling saltbush plains, vast sky, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Stand in awe beneath the endless starry sky and you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in another world.

Landscape of Hay at sunset

Uninterrupted landscape of the Hay Plains at sunset

Key facts

  • Distance: 10km
  • Riding time: about 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Stops: 6

Stop 1: On your bike

Pick up your bikes from the Hay Outback Info Centre. There are 10 adult and two children’s bikes available to hire free of charge, and it’s a good idea to reserve them ahead of time. You can also download the Hay Bike Map, which will show you the town’s cycle paths and other interesting places to visit.

Cycling in Hay

Grab a free bike to explore Hay from the Hay Outback Info Centre, Country NSW

Stop 2: Shear enjoyment

Warm up your legs with a 2km cycle along Hay’s leafy main drag, Lachlan Street, lined with heritage buildings, restored pubs and charming shops. You’re off to learn more about the hardworking men and women who helped shaped the nation off the back of a sheep. Shear Outback is dedicated to the shearer, that colourful character who worked his (and her) way into Australian legend. Make sure to arrive by 10.30am to watch one of the live shearing demonstrations in the historic Murray Downs Woolshed, then have a joyous encounter with working dogs and take a walk through the Australian Shearers’ Hall of Fame.

Stop 3: A meeting with the bishop

It’s just a five-minute ride to Bishop’s Lodge, an 1888 house that was well ahead of its time. Designed by famed Australian architect John Sulman and the first Anglican bishop of The Riverina, Sydney Linton, it uses innovative technologies such as iron walls, insulation and ventilation to mitigate the summer heat. Stop to smell the roses in the glorious rose garden, planted with rare heritage varieties and maintained by a passionate team of volunteers. If you’d like to take a little piece of your holiday home, rose bushes are available to purchase.

Bishop's Lodge Historic House and Garden, Hay

Bishop's Lodge Historic House and Garden, Hay - Credit: Hay Shire Council

Stop 4: The Dunera boys

Following the outbreak of World War II, the British Government sent about 6,000 civilian internees and prisoners-of-war to be housed in camps built at Hay, chosen largely because of the town’s remote location. This little-known piece of Australian war history is captured perfectly at the Dunera Museum – set inside air-conditioned railway carriages at the Hay Railway Station, a 3.3km bike ride away. The stories of the prisoners, guards and local townspeople are fascinating to explore, and you’ll get a vivid sense of what they experienced through photography and music.

Stop 5: The hard cells

Pedal 1km and you’ll go back in time a further 60 years at the Hay Gaol Museum. Built in 1880, it has served as a prison, mental hospital, POW detention centre and an institute for girls, before becoming a museum in the 1970s. It’s a fascinating place to poke around for an hour or two: the eclectic mix of artefacts includes Australia’s oldest-known bark canoe, wooden windmills, motorbikes and clothing from the 19th century. Wander through the historic building and hear the stories of its past, like the tale of the POW who managed to escape. See the van that brought in troubled girls in the dead of night, or sit inside the solitary confinement cells.

Stop 6: Murals in the sky

Hay is famous for its sunsets and one of the most spectacular spots to watch the sun go down is silhouetted behind the two mural-covered water towers on the edge of town. Painted in late 2020, the portraits of five servicemen and women are a moving tribute to the hundreds of people from this tiny community who served in both World Wars. It’s the perfect spot to capture an Instagram shot, and an equally perfect place to end your day’s cycling adventure.

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