Located in the heart of the Riverina, the most striking thing about Hay is the incredibly flat plains on which it sits. The saltbush flats afford amazing views across the land, especially at sunrise and sunset, and the terrain makes bicycles a popular and easy mode of transport for residents. American travel writer Bill Bryson described Hay as 'a modest splat' and 'extremely likeable'.
Hay Visitor Information Centre, 407 Moppett Street, Hay; (02) 6993 4045
Nearby national parks
POW Internment Camp Interpretive Centre Housed in Hay's magnificent restored railway station, the centre documents the WW II internment in Hay of over 3000 prisoners of war. The first internees were known as the 'Dunera boys', Jewish intellectuals who had fled Germany and Austria. The camp established a garrison band, a newspaper and printed camp money. The Dunera boys even ran their own 'university', teaching subjects such as atomic research and classical Greek. Murray St; inquiries (02) 6993 4045.
Shear Outback Centre – The Australian Shearers Hall of Fame: interactive experiences and shearing deomonstrations with sheep dogs, historic Murray Downs Woolshed and exhibitions; Sturt Hwy; inquiries (02) 6993 4000.
Witcombe Fountain: ornate drinking fountain presented to the people of Hay by mayor John Witcombe in 1883; Lachlan St.
Coach house: features an 1886 Cobb & Co coach, which travelled the Deniliquin–Hay–Wilcannia route until 1901; Lachlan St.
Hay Gaol Museum: contains memorabilia and photographs of the town, and the building's history from 1878 as a gaol, maternity hospital, hospital for the insane and POW compound; Church St; inquiries (02) 6993 4045.
War Memorial High School Museum: built in recognition of those who served in WW I, with war memorabilia and an honour roll. The building still operates as a school, so call for opening times (02) 6993 1408; Pine St.
Bishop's Lodge: restored 1888 iron house, now a museum and gallery with a unique and remarkable collection of heritage roses. Holds a market 3rd Sun in Oct. Open 2–4.30pm Mon–Sat; Cnr Roset St and Sturt Hwy.
Ruberto's Winery: cellar-door tastings; Sturt Hwy.
Hay Wetlands: especially spectacular in spring, the land is a breeding ground for over 60 inland bird species with a breeding island and tree plantation; north-western edge of town; brochure from visitor centre.
Hay Park: pleasant picnic spot with a nature walk along the banks of the river; off Brunker St.
Murrumbidgee River: excellent sandy river beaches and calm water, perfect for waterskiing, canoeing, swimming and picnics. Enjoy excellent freshwater fishing for Murray cod, yellow-belly perch and redfin. A licence is required; available from outlets in town, including visitor centre.
Heritage walk and scenic drive: walk includes city structures built for the harsh outback such as the beautifully restored courthouse (1892) on Moppett St and the shire office (1877) on Lachlan St. The drive takes in the parklands, river and surrounding saltbush plains; brochure from visitor centre.
Booligal In an area known as the 'devil's claypan', this hot and dusty sheep- and cattle-town is mentioned in Banjo Paterson's poem Hay and Hell and Booligal. The poem says that a visit to Booligal is a fate worse than hell with topics of complaint including heat, flies, dust, rabbits, mosquitoes and snakes. On the plus side, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. It is off the beaten tourist track and there is a memorial to John Oxley, the first European in the area, in the shape of a giant theodolite (surveyor's tool). 78 km N. Halfway to Booligal, look out for the lonely ruins of One Tree Hotel.
Hay Weir: on the Murrumbidgee River, excellent for picnics, barbecues and Murray cod fishing; 12 km W.
Sunset viewing area: the vast plains provide amazingly broad and spectacular sunsets; Booligal Rd; 16 km N.
Maude Weir: surprisingly green and lush oasis, ideal for picnics and barbecues; 53 km W.
Goonawarra Nature Reserve: no facilities for visitors, but the flood plains with river red gum forests and black box woodlands are still worth a visit – waterfowl in the billabongs, plenty of Murray cod in the Lachlan River and kangaroos and emus on the plains; 59 km N.
Oxley: tiny town with river red gums and prolific wildlife (best seen at dusk); 87 km NW.
Fishing spots near town
Cafes & restaurants around town
Campsites around town
Beaumont Beach camping area 100 kmThis is situated off Britts Rd in the state forest. Bring your own drinking water. Note: there’s a fire ban from late in the year until Easter, so bring a gas/fuel stove for use during this time.... Find out more
Caravan parks around town
Hay Caravan Park 2 kmLocated at the southern end of town, this park has large expanses of lawn and shady trees. Sites are very generous in size and access is particularly easy, making the park ideal for either an overnight stay or for longer... Find out more
Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town
Find out more
Find out more
Rest areas around town
T/O at Hay
Among a few trees 1km west of Hay via Brunker St. On the north side of the river.
3km E of Hay (L) or 170km W of Narrandera (R)
Just off the highway on the riverbank.
8km NE of Hay (R) or 102km SW of Goolgowi (L)
On the riverbank 700m (unsealed) off the highway behind the truck bay.
Nine Mile camping area 13 km
119km E of Balranald (L) or 14km W of Hay (R)
Secluded area well off the highway on the riverbank.
Pevensey rest area 28 km
104km E of Balranald (R) or 29km W of Hay (L)
Just off the highway among a few trees.
Burrabogie camping area 29 km
31km E of Hay (L) or 142km W of Narrandera (R)
Well off the highway in a shady riverside setting.
37km E of Hay (L) or 136km W of Narrandera (R)
Well off the highway on the riverbank.
Ravensworth rest area 52 km
78km E of Balranald (L) or 55km W of Hay (L)
Just off the highway on both sides.
Birdcage camping area 78 km
83km E of Hay (L) or 90km W of Narrandera (R)
Well off the highway on the riverbank.
Birdcage rest area 79 km
84km E of Hay (L) or 89km W of Narrandera (R)
Just off the highway under some shady trees.
Goolgowi rest area 97 km
108km NE of Hay (L) or 2km SW of Goolgowi (R)
Just off the highway among numerous small trees.
What's on around town
Sheep Show: June.
Hay Races: Nov.