On the banks of the beautiful Murrumbidgee River, Hay will charm you with its fine heritage buildings, gorgeous gardens and parks, and fascinating agriculture and World War II history. In the western Riverina region of NSW, Hay is one of Australia’s major wool growing areas.
The Sturt, Cobb and Mid Western highways converge on Hay, which is halfway between Sydney and Adelaide and five hours’ drive north of Melbourne. You can fly into Griffith City Airport and rent a car for the 90 minutes’ drive to Hay. From Wagga Wagga, the drive is three hours.
Accommodation options include farm stays, cottages, motels, caravan and camping sites and classic pubs. With wonderful museums and great fishing and birdwatching, you’ll find plenty of things to do and special events to enjoy, such as the annual Booligal Sheep Races in Booligal, north of Hay.
At Shear Outback and the Australian Shearers Hall of Fame, discover the story of Australian sheep shearing and see live sheep-shearing demonstrations, held at 10.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm. There is a gift shop, cafe and maze at the museum, open seven days a week. Drink from elaborate Witcombe Fountain and visit Bishop’s Lodge, an 1888 iron house designed to withstand extreme climate.
Military history is an important part of Hay’s heritage, too. Visit the Hay Gaol Museum and Dunera Museum, in the heritage-listed Hay Railway Station, for the intriguing history of the World War II civilian internment camps and prisoner of war camps in Hay. The station is home to the POW and Internment Camp Interpretative Centre. Make an appointment and visit Hay War Memorial High School Museum. The school was described as the ‘finest war memorial’ when it opened in 1923.
With the meandering river, vast plains, wetlands and abundant birdlife, the natural beauty of the area will enchant you. Watch glorious sunsets at the Hay Sunset Viewing Area, a short drive north of the town. Walk along the riverbank on the Hay Nature Walk, where there are delightful picnic spots.