Hay is a small town located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in the Riverina region of NSW. Surrounded by the vastness of the Hay Plains, the area is best known as a major wool growing centre. We were really surprised with how much there was to see and do in the town and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
Hay is located roughly half way between Wagga Wagga in NSW and Mildura in Victoria. It is the perfect place for a stop over if travelling between those two towns.
SHEAR OUTBACK – AUSTRALIAN SHEARERS HALL OF FAME
Having grown up on a sheep farm in NSW, Shear Outback really caught my eye. Shear Outback was established to pay tribute to the thousands of men and women across Australia who shear the millions of sheep we have in this country. It houses a wonderful display of shearing memorabilia dating back to our earliest days.
It is also home to the Australian Shearers Hall of Fame, and each year some more names are added to the list of our most renowned shearers.
If you have never seen a sheep being shorn or had anything to do with the workings of a wool shed, there are daily sheep shearing demonstrations. The woolshed at Shear Outback was previously located on Murray Downs Station on the NSW side of the Murray River near Swan Hill. It was purchased in 1998, dismantled and re-erected on site in 2001. It is a classic example of a shearing shed like what is found on farms around the country.
We recommend allowing a good 2 to 3 hours to look around Shear Outback. There is a café where you can enjoy morning tea or lunch as well as a well-stocked gift shop.
HAY GAOL MUSEUM
The Hay Gaol Museum is a community run museum with a rather sad history. Established in 1878, as well as being a gaol, it has been used for many other things. During the Second World War it housed Japanese and Italian POW’s. It was a maternity hospital and a hospital for the insane. Lastly it was used as a maximum security establishment for girls under the Child Welfare Department. You can hear some of their stories of life there and I can tell you some of the stories sent shivers down my spine. Fortunately it closed in 1974 and was turned into a museum two years later.
It also houses a huge collection of farm machinery, tools and weapons. The museum is open daily for self-guided tours and costs $4.00 for adults or $1.00 for children.
Located in two train carriages at the Hay Railway Station you will find the Dunera Museum. An interpretive centre which tells the history of the Hay Internment and POW Camps. Between 1940 and 1946 the three Internment Camps at Hay housed over 6,200 German, Italian and Japanese Internees and POW’s. They were nicknamed the Dunera Boys after the ship on which many of them arrived. This self-guided tour gives an insight into what life was like during those times. Entry is $4.00 per adult and the museum is open every day of the year.
Bishops Lodge is a magnificent house constructed in 1889 and it was the official residence of the Anglican Bishop of the Riverina. Built entirely of iron, it has a number of features designed to combat the hot summers including sawdust insulation. It has 24 rooms all with 14 foot ceilings and 45 squares of verandah.
It is surrounded by over three acres of gardens with many heritage rose varieties growing in it. The gardens and the house are now cared for by a team of dedicated volunteers. Bishops Lodge is a wonderful example of our early heritage and you can see how spectacular it would have been in its day.
WHERE TO STAY
Perhaps the best thing about Hay is the massive free camp at Sandy Point and this is where we chose to stay. Adjacent to the Murrumbidgee River there is loads of space for rigs of all sizes. Most spots are flat and although there are some large trees around you can park away from these. There are rubbish bins, BBQ’s and clean toilets available but no showers. The time limit for staying at Sandy Point is 72 hours and a staff member from council did call by and take our details for Covid tracing.
There are also plenty of motels in Hay, two caravan parks and camping is also available at the local Showgrounds.
BIDGEE RIVERSIDE TRAIL
Running along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River is a fantastic walking and cycle trail. This can be easily accessed from Sandy Point and was a great spot to stretch our legs of an afternoon. There are also some sculptures dotted along the trail and you will also find the Warrakirri Murals on the bridge pylons.
MORE THINGS TO DO IN HAY, NSW
- Take a drive out of town to the Hay Weir.
- Take a drive 16 kilometres out of town to the Sunset Viewing area. (We didn’t make it for sunset)
- Walk the Heritage and Arts Trail in the town centre.
- In summer, cool off at the FREE Olympic Pool complex.
- Hire a bike for FREE from the Visitor Information Centre.
- Check out the new Water Tower Art completed in December 2020.