12 Things to do in Hay

I’ve done a few trips back and forth between Adelaide and Sydney lately. My preferred overnight stop is Hay. Here are all the things to do in Hay, New South Wales as you pass through.

I always arrive with a little time to spare, so I like to explore before I settle down for the night. For a town out in the middle of nowhere, there are a surprising number of Hay attractions to keep you busy for an overnight stay, or even for a day or two.

Hay Shire is the traditional land of the Nari Nari, Wiradjuri and Yitha Yitha people.

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Things to Do in Hay

With a rich agricultural history, picturesque landscapes, and a warm rural spirit, Hay offers a unique blend of experiences for travellers passing through.

There’s no shortage of Hay attractions and activities to make the most of your visit, so let’s get into the list.

Sunset Viewing Area

Some metal chairs view a view over flat plains at sunset

I saw this on a sign in town and I was curious. This area is so flat, I wanted to see what I imagined to be the only high spot around.

The sunset viewing area is 16km north of the town on the road to Booligal. You will know it when you see it, because it is simply a parking area on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere!

The is no hill, but also no trees for miles, so the sun sinks down into the crops growing as far as the eye can see.

You will likely meet other travellers who have also come to enjoy sunset here too.

Dunera Prisoner of War Museum

A red building with a sign saying Hay on it
Photo credit: Destination NSW

The Dunera Prisoner of War Museum commemorates the internment of World War II detainees in the Dunera Camp.

You will be provided with a glimpse into the lives of the internees, their stories, and the challenges they faced during their time in captivity.

The museum’s exhibits are thoughtfully curated, displaying personal artifacts, photographs, and documents that vividly convey the experiences of those who were detained here.

It’s an educational and humbling experience and gives a glimpse into the human side of wartime history, making it a must-visit destination in Hay.

Hay Water Tower Art

Two water towers painted with murals of servicemen

There are no grain silos here in Hay, but that didn’t stop them from creating some incredible large scale murals on their water towers instead.

Painted by Adnate, the towers show images of a selection of servicemen and servicewomen from Hay as a tribute to all those who served in WWII.

Australian Shearer’s Hall of Fame

The inside of a shearing shed
Photo credit: Destination NSW

If you’ve ever been curious about the iconic Australian tradition of sheep shearing, stop in and take a look.

I grew up on a wheat/sheep farm, and shearing was my absolute favourite time of year, so this brings back a lot of memories for me.

Shear Outback, the Australian Shearer’s Hall of Fame, is just a short drive from the heart of Hay. It offers a hands-on experience of rural life.

Here, you can learn about the shearing industry, watch skilled shearers at work, and even try your hand at shearing a sheep (don’t worry; they’re experts, and the sheep are used to it!).

You will need a couple of hours, perhaps half a day, to thoroughly explore this museum.

Sculptures in Main Street

A sculpture of a woman walking with a stick and two sheep following her in front of a building with a clocktower and another official building.

Don’t miss taking a short walk along Lachlan Street to see the sculptures outside the Town Hall.

Find out what book the sheep is reading, and then learn about local legend Mrs McGrath and her pet sheep.

Hay Gaol Museum

Two people walking out of a door into a courtyard of the Hay Gaol Museum
Photo credit: Destination NSW

There’s no better place to start your journey back in time in Hay than at the Hay Gaol Museum.

This was once a notorious prison, and it now houses a collection of artifacts and stories that provide a glimpse into the town’s past.

You can wander through the old cells, marvel at the history on display, and truly immerse yourself in the Hay of yesteryears.

Murrumbidgee River

The A wide river lined with gum trees

The Murrumbidgee River is the lifeblood of Hay, and it’s the perfect place to unwind and connect with the great outdoors.

Whether you’re into fishing, kayaking, or simply relaxing by the water’s edge with a picnic, the river offers a serene and picturesque backdrop for your adventure.

Don’t forget to look out for the abundant birdlife; the wetlands around Hay are a haven for birdwatchers.

Riverside Walking & Cycling Trail

People riding bikes along a riverside path
Photo credit: Destination NSW

For nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, the Riverside Walking & Cycling Trail in Hay offers a perfect escape into the natural beauty of the region.

This scenic trail meanders alongside the picturesque Murrumbidgee River, providing an ideal setting for leisurely walks or cycling.

The path is well-maintained, with plenty of spots to sit, relax, and enjoy the serene waterscape.

As you explore the trail, keep an eye out for the local birdlife and the lush riverbank vegetation.

Bishop’s Lodge Historic House

A visit to Hay wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Bishop’s Lodge Historic House and Heritage Rose Garden.

This beautifully preserved homestead is a window into the region’s colonial past. The house is a stunning piece of architecture, and the gardens surrounding it are filled with over 800 varieties of roses, making it a delightful place for a stroll or a photography spot.

Visit Nearby Booligal and Maude

A windmill on a grassy plain
Photo credit: Destination NSW

If you have time, take a short journey to the nearby towns of Booligal and Maude.

These rural communities offer a taste of the Australian outback and an opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of the locals.

In Booligal, you’ll find the historic Booligal Hotel, known for its connection to the famous Australian poem, “Hay and Hell and Booligal” by Banjo Paterson.

Maude, on the other hand, boasts a peaceful atmosphere and a lovely spot by the Murrumbidgee River for picnicking or fishing.

These neighbouring towns are a pleasant extension of your Hay stopover, revealing the heart and soul of rural Australia.

Learn About the Long Paddock

The Long Paddock is a historical droving route that runs 610 km of the Cobb Highway from Echuca to Wilcannia, passing through Hay

As you drive along the Cobb Highway from Hay to Booligal, you’ll discover that the rich history and rollicking tales of the Long Paddock have been encapsulated on interpretative panels.

These panels are strategically positioned at key sites, offering an enchanting blend of historical facts, intriguing narratives, and captivating images.

You won’t see the whole drover’s story on this short section, but it will give you a taste of what you can find along the whole route.

Hay Heritage Trail

As Hay is rich in history, consider taking a walk following the Heritage Trail, which will lead you through a curated selection of historical sites and landmarks.

Each stop on the trail provides a window into the town’s past, offering a deeper understanding of its evolution over the years.

Getting to Hay

Hay is located around 650 km from Adelaide and 720 km from Sydney. There are not too many towns close to it on either side, so it makes a good place to stop.

Where to Stay in Hay

The front of a two story hotel in Hay

There are a range of accommodation options here in Hay, from free camping along the river to motels in town.

I choose to stay at the Commercial Motel. Since this is just a brief overnight stay, I am only looking for somewhere clean and comfortable for a good price, and the Commercial Hotel provides that.

It used to be a pub, but now just offers accommodation in rooms that have a good bathroom, TV, free wifi, microwave, fridge and kettle amongst other amenities.

Inside a basic hotel room

As a bonus, there is a basic breakfast available, and there are great sunset views over the town from the balcony.

I’ve stayed here twice now, and my husband has stayed a third time, and in our opinion it’s great value for money.

The Commercial Motel is pet friendly, with your furry friend welcome in your room.

Click here to check prices & availability for your trip.

FAQs for Visiting Hay, New South Wales

Q: What is the town of Hay known for?

Hay, New South Wales, is primarily known for its rich agricultural history, especially in the wool and sheep-shearing industries. The town is also famous for the Hay Silo Art, which adorns the silos with captivating murals, and it’s location on the Hay Plain.

Q: Is Hay NSW worth visiting?

Absolutely! Hay is worth a visit for its unique blend of history, art, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in heritage sites, outdoor activities, or simply experiencing the warmth of rural Australia, Hay has something to offer every traveller.

Q: Is Hay the flattest place in Australia?

This is tricky, because Hay claims to be located in the flattest area in the Southern Hemisphere on it’s website, but Australia has another contender which also makes the claim.

While Hay is known for its flat terrain, it’s probably not the flattest place in Australia. The distinction of being the flattest place seems to go to the Nullarbor Plain, located in South Australia and Western Australia.

Whichever is actually the flattest, I can confirm there’s barely a bump in the landscape for hundreds of kilometres around Hay.

Q: What is the population of Hay?

The population of Hay is approximately 3000 people.

Before you go…try these posts
20 Places to Experience the Australian Outback
23 Hidden Gems in Sydney
Crossing the Nullarbor

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