Set on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, the welcoming town of Hay is surrounded by the iconic Hay Plains. It’s a place to discover striking Outback sunsets, intriguing museums, winding cycleways and a rich agricultural heritage. Hay is at the centre of the Long Paddock driving route, making it a perfect stop on your journey from The Murray, through the Riverina and into the centre of NSW.
Things to do
The endless flat landscapes of the Hay Plains make for unique and beautiful 360-degree sunsets all year round. Head to the Sunset Viewing Area, 16km north of Hay on the Cobb Highway, for uninterrupted views and a kaleidoscope of colours as the sun goes down. Don’t forget your camera.
Hay has been one of Australia’s major wool growing areas since the 1850s. At Shear Outback – The Australian Shearers Hall of Fame, where you can step into the world of the shearer, meet the colourful characters of the bush, watch a live sheep shearing demonstration and take a journey through the innovative technology of ‘getting the wool off’.
Hire free bicycles from the Hay Visitor Information Centre, grab a map and explore the town. Pedal along the Bidgee Riverside Trail, which is dotted with sculptures and information panels that tell the story of the town. Cycle down to Sandy Point Beach on the edge of the river for a cooling swim, a spot of fishing or a shady picnic.
History buffs will want to explore the moving Dunera Museum and learn about the thousands of German, Austrian, Italian and Japanese men who were interred there during the Second World War. Built in 1878, the Hay Gaol is now a fascinating museum filled with local artefacts. Charming Bishop’s Lodge Historic House is an early example of sustainable architecture, built in 1888 iron and designed to withstand summer heat.
In addition to the natural beauty and extraordinary heritage, there are many special events held throughout the year. Don’t miss the thrilling Hay Rodeo in March, the Hay Merino Sheep Show in June and the Booligal Sheep Races in Booligal, north of Hay, in April. Held in November, the annual are the biggest country race meeting in NSW with a six race program, Fashions on the Field and plenty of fun.
Getting there & where to stay
The Sturt, Cobb and Mid Western highways converge on Hay, which is halfway between Sydney and Adelaide. It’s around seven hours’ drive from either city, 5hr 30min from Caberra and five from Melbourne. You can also fly into Griffith City Airport and rent a car for the 90min drive to Hay. Places to stay include cottages, motels and country pubs, as well as riverside caravan and camping sites.