Traditionally owned by the Nari Nari Aboriginal people, Hay sits in the Riverina and is a gateway to the outback. Explorer Charles Stuart passed through the area around 1829, but the site of Hay itself was originally the junction of four squatter properties, one of which had an important river crossing for the area. In 1858 a store was built at the crossing, soon followed by a punt service and a hotel. The township of Hay was officially named the following year after a local pastoralist and Member of Parliament, Sir John Hay.
Today Hay is a relaxed and friendly country town surrounded by vast open grasslands. It’s full of welcoming locals that you could easily stop and ask for directions - just what every traveller wants! Easily the most popular attraction is Shear Outback, where you’ll love watching a big fluffy sheep quickly transform into a much skinnier version of itself sans all that soft white wool. It’s amazing to watch! From the shearing shed to the museum and gallery, all ages will enjoy this true Aussie experience.
Around town, be sure to follow the Hay Heritage Walk for a glimpse at the best local heritage buildings. It includes the fascinating Hay Goal Museum dating from 1878. With a history as a gaol, a maternity hospital, a hospital for the insane, a Prisoner of War detention centre and an Institute for Girls, the walls of this museum have seen much more than they bargained for. The trail’s other standouts include the Witcombe Fountain and the Dunera Museum, formerly a prisoner of war camp.
For something prettier and less historic, head 16km north of Hay to the Hay Sunset Viewing Area. Watch a magnificent array of colours fill the sky over sweeping plains, far from any buildings or view-interrupting smog. Meander along Bushy Bend, a dirt track trailing the river decorated with the Long Paddock Sculptures, or head to Sandy Point, the town’s swimming beach on the river lined by majestic old River Red Gums. For a scenic drive to the sound of Banjo Paterson’s descriptive words, head 80km north to Booligal along the Long Paddock to see if his poem ‘Hay and Hell and Booligal’ rings true.
With Hay perched at the junction of the Sturt, Cobb and Mid Western Highways, it’s perfectly positioned between Sydney and Adelaide, with a great connection to Melbourne in the South. Hay is also surrounded by other iconic rural Australian towns, including Echuca to the South, Mildura to the west, and Wagga Wagga in the east. Full of rich Aussie heritage, shearing history and beautiful country settings on the cusp of the outback, Hay is a unique little town to get back to your roots. So wot’s stopping you? Book one of our Hay hotels today!
Hotels in Hay start at AU$100 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.