Hay, is a beautiful, history filled, small country town (approx. population 3,500) situated on the semi-arid plains of the south-western Riverina region of New South Wales, on the Murrumbidgee River. A veritable oasis in an otherwise wide and treeless plain, Hay is 125km north of Deniliquin and 165km from Griffith, its two substantially larger neighbouring towns. To the west is Balranald, and east are Narranderra and Wagga Wagga. Nearer are the small community towns Maude (50km west), Booligal (on the Lachlan River, 70km north) and Carathool (50km east).
Hay’s location makes it a kind of “cross roads” location and ideal stopover point for Sydney-Adelaide or Brisbane-Melbourne travellers, and it is well served by its hotels, motels, clubs and eateries.
Hay’s hot, dry summers made the western areas of NSW quite a challenge to endure in the early days of settlement and Banjo Patterson light heartedly captured a sense of the “toughness” of the area with his poem “Hay, Hell and Booligal”. Hay has come a long way since those days and air conditioning now helps make the summer endurable! Sheep for wool, irrigated cropping (rice especially), and tourism are Hay’s major industries.
The new Shear Outback Centre, commemorating various aspects of the wool and shearing industry in Australia is quite a sight to see.