First day from home saw us finally pull up for the night at Tocumwal in NSW just over the Victorian border and already we have noticed the huge road trains thundering along the highways. The weather is still cool, but by the second day when we finally reach the beginning of the Kidman Way, the sky has cleared and the sun is shining. All bodes well! We make a left turn onto the Sturt Highway driving along until we arrive at Hay where we stay for two days. Hay was made famous/infamous in Banjo Paterson's poem 'Hay, Hell and Booligal' in which nearby Booligal is compared unfavourably with Hay. Booligal in the 1890s was unlucky enough to experience heat, sand, dust, flies, rabbits, mosquitos, snakes and drought and Paterson humorously suggests Hay - or even Hell - would be preferable.
The town of Hay is surrounded by very flat terrain and is a massive sheep farming area. Sheep numbers were culled during the drought years to only a fraction of their previous numbers and only now are beginning to increase. There is a very big and very well presented museum - Shear Outback - which we visited in the afternoon. Much information about the early sheep industry and its people. A large custom built shearing shed (moved from the Murray Downs) is the setting for a top shearer, Billy, to give a talk about the industry and to demonstrate how to shear a sheep. Later his sheep-dog, Beau, demonstrates his skill at rounding up a flock of sheep. Lunch at the museum's café went down very well.
On leaving Hay we travelled back to the Kidman Way to again travel north. We encountered several herds of cattle making use of the grass verges along the roads (the long paddock) - a reminder that some parts of the country are still desperately short of cattle feed because of drought conditions.
Tomorrow - we're continuing north to Bourke.