Hay is a rural town of about 3000 people, with several motels and many country pubs, at the intersection of three major highways on the main route from Sydney to Adelaide, making it a good place for a stop on a long road trip. The Hay tourism board maintain a useful website , which provides good information about accommodation, directions and activities in Hay.
Aboriginal communities in the western Riverina were traditionally concentrated in the more habitable river corridors and amongst the reedbeds of the region. The district surrounding Hay was occupied by at least three separate Aboriginal groups at the time of European settler expansion onto their lands. The area around the present township appears to have been a site of interaction between the Nari-Nari people of the Lower Murrumbidgee and the Wiradjuri who inhabited a vast region in the central-western inland of New South Wales.
In late 1829 Charles Sturt and his men passed along the Murrumbidgee River on horses and drays. They launched their whale-boat near the Murrumbidgee-Lachlan junction and continued the journey by boat to the Murray River and eventually to the sea at Lake Alexandrina (before returning by the same route). During the late-1830s stock was regularly overlanded to South Australia via the Lower Murrumbidgee. At the same time stockholders were edging westward along and the Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, Billabong and Murray systems. By 1839 all of the river frontages in the vicinity of present-day Hay were occupied by squatters. By the mid-1850s pastoral runs in the western Riverina were well-established and prosperous. The nearby Victorian gold-rushes provided an expanding market for stock. The prime fattening country of the Riverina became a sort of holding centre, from where the Victorian market could be supplied as required. One of the popular routes established in the mid-1850s crossed the Murrumbidgee River at Lang's Crossing-place.
The landscape is mostly flat, with very few hills, with the Murrumbidgee river running through the middle of it.
Flora and fauna
Mostly dry arid types of flora with mainly emus here, but there are also some roos that live here as well.
It's usually hot during the day, and cold during the night, just like any outback town.
Visitor Information Centre
Hay is on the Sturt Highway (A20). Most people arrive via this route, although some also arrive via the much less travelled unsealed Cobb Highway (B75). It is also the western end of the Mid-Western Highway.
There's no car hire in Hay. You either need to bring your own car, or walk.
The highlight of Hay must be:
- ShearOutback (Shearer's Hall of Fame), ☏ . Modern museum with exhibitions of shearing and sheep-related paraphernalia, and regular live shearing demonstrations. Also has a good cafe. Open 9-5 every day. Admission $15 adults, $10 concession (August 2006). Just off the South Hay roundabout, on the Sturt Highway.
- 1 Hay Gaol, 355 Church St, ☏ , email@example.com. 9AM-5PM daily. A former prison which has since been converted into a museum. Adults $4 Children $1.
- 2 Dunera Museum (Dunera Museum at Hay Railway Station), 421 Murray St, ☏ .
- Hay Water Towers. A mural commemorating those who made sacrifices in the Great Emu War as well as other wars as well.
There's not much to do in Hay, only see but here are some of the things you can do:
- Kayak along the Murrumbidgee river. (Murrumbidgee means water, and thus that's what the Wiradjuri people called it)
- Walk along the river, along the cool outback breeze
- 1 The Convent, 160 Pine St (on the main road turn left at Foodworks, if coming in off the Sturt Highway, one block down the road), ☏ . Owned by locals, it has a beautifully renovated interior and is well worth a coffee at least. Also provides accommodation.
- 2 Wok In Hay Aussie & Thai Takeaway, 101 Lachlan St, ☏ .
- 1 Cobb Inlander Motel, 83 Lachlan St, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM.
- 2 New Crown Hotel Motel, 117 Lachlan St, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM.
- Wagga Wagga is a bit further to your east. Often called "Wagga" rather than "Wagga Wagga".