IS HAY THE NSW CARAVAN CAPITAL?
Brilliant free camps, welcoming locals, and countless low-cost attractions – Is this the most RV friendly town in NSW?
Nestled next to the Murrumbidgee River is one of the most fantastic, RV friendly towns you’ll find in Australia. Hay sits at the centre of five caravanning destinations: Mildura, Wilcannia, Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Echuca. Whilst many may drive past Hay without stopping in, we’ve come to realise that this is a town that simply cannot be missed. Nestled next to the Murrumbidgee River is the most scenic riverside free camps you’ll see. There are a variety to choose from too! When you venture into town, you’ll be blown away by the amount of attractions and sights that are available, but what will really cement this town as one of the best, is the incredible degree to which the locals accommodate and help RVers and new comers. The Visitor’s Centre was a wealth of information and even accompanied us on a tour or two. When you take into account the fantastic riverside free camps, the plentiful attractions and the ever welcoming locals, you’ll understand why Hay should truly be named the caravanning capital of Australia.
DOWN BY THE RIVER
When you’re exploring such a fantastic town and region, it’s nice to know that they have camping to suit any traveller. One of the main free camps at Hay is the fantastic Sandy Point Reserve, which is nestled along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. This free camp is walking distance from town and has BBQs, toilets, shade and plenty of sites to pull up and relax at. Whilst there is a lot of shade in this area, there’s also enough sun to run solar panels – just one more fantastic bonus that this free camp offers. We made our base here and were so happy that we did. There were a few caravans dotted along the river, but it certainly wasn’t packed, which is exactly how we like it. The Murrumbidgee River gives anglers the chance to catch some Murray cod, golden perch and delicious crayfish. Sandy Point also has a boat ramp, which is perfect for anyone wantingto explore the river systems and target some of the less populated areas. If there’s too many people camping at Sandy Point Reserve, duck over to Brandons Bend Reserve, which is a great spot just three kilometres east of Hay. Or, if you’re looking for a fantastic caravan park, spend the night at Hay Caravan Park, which is just 100m from the Murrumbidgee
OZ’S MOST RV FRIENDLY TOWN?
Once you’ve set up, jump in the car or stretch your legs and wander into town. We cannot express how helpful the Hay Visitor Information Centre was. There is so much to see and do in Hay and the ladies behind the counter made sure that we had enough information to make our time here well worth it. The information centre has free filtered water for RVers and wonderfully hot showers available for $2. Hay has really wide streets that are perfect for RV’s and motorhomes to drive through, but if you prefer the more active option then take a stroll or enquire about the free bike hire from the information centre, who provide you with the bike, helmet and all. They even state that if you want to pop into one of the many attractions, just lay the bikes to the side and don’t worry about locking them up – now isn’t that a refreshing change?
Hay has five fantastic museums available to visit, and the best thing about them is most of them only require a gold coin donation to enter. We absolutely loved the impeccably kept Gaol Museum, which was a haven of information and history. We couldn’t stop staring at all the impeccably kept artefacts. We learnt of the Italian Prisoners of War who, even after the war was over, were considered the enemy and kept in Gaol. The history in these purpose built walls is astounding, and we couldn’t believe that a place so treacherous was also so beautiful. The locally sourced red bricks were a stark contrast to the lush green grass that lead to each prison room. The prison was officially closed in June 1915, but the tales of prisoners long gone are still alive today in all the pictures and plaques on the walls.
The Gaol Museum isn’t the only host of historical war artefacts, with the Dunera Museum equally as interesting and well presented. The Dunera Museum once comprised of over 1900 German Jews and other refugees from Nazi occupied cities in Europe. As you wander through the rooms, you’ll discover exhibits, photographs, stories, music and experiences from prisoners of war and townsfolk. It’s so surreal to venture from modern day society back in time, and we left with a real appreciation of the war. If it’s grand architecture and beauty that catches your eye, then head over to Bishops Lodge. This extraordinary lodge was designed in 1888 and is still just as astounding and stunning as it was when it was built. The design work in this house is remarkable, even compared to today’s architecture and engineering! There’s also a stunning display of heritage roses at this site, which will have you staring in wide eyed wonder. The Shear Outback attraction is one of the best shearing museums of its kind, and it’s not hard to see why people rave about it. Shear Outback gives visitors the chance to
learn about the legendary stations from Hay’s folk lore. Stare in wonder at the Shearers’ Hall of Fame, enjoy a shearing demonstration, nibble on delicious food at the café and enjoy unique souvenirs in the shop. The options here are endless and so entertaining and informative. We almost didn’t want to leave, but the beaut scenery in this area was calling our name, and we couldn’t wait to explore some more.
THE SCENIC ROUTE
After visiting some of the town’s best museums, we decided to explore the more scenic areas hidden away in Hay’s corners. This notion took us to the Sculpture Walk along the riverbank. Whilst you can drive along the trail we highly recommend taking the walk, as it’s incredibly peaceful and some of the intricate sculptures make you want to stop and stare. Massive Murray River Gums sweep the banks and the native birds sing to each other as you walk the trail. Meander along the flowing Murrumbidgee River and take in the incredible art work, scenery and wildlife and truly just appreciate how amazing Hay is. As the end of the day nears, it’s time to duck into town to get the essentials for a cheese platter and drive out to the Sunset Viewing Area. The Sunset Viewing area offers breathtaking scenery and gives you a true sense of raw, Australian beauty. It truly is something that you must do if you’re in the area. The viewing area is located just 16km’s out of town on the Cobb Highway, and there is not a tree or bush as far as the eye can see. This makes it the most amazing place to sit down, enjoy a cheese platter and watch the sunset.