Have you ever… visited the Hay Plains?

Imagine driving at 110km/hr (68mi/hr) for about 4 hours through a landscape that is split evenly in a straight line across the horizon. Above – incredibly blue sky. Below – saltbush plains. Thousands of hectares of grazing country, unbroken by trees, buildings or mountains. (Well, maybe there is the odd Black Box tree, but they are few and far between).

HayPlains

Nothing disturbs the horizon; nothing breaks that even line. Not even a row of trees in the v..e..r..y far distance – probably alongside the Murrumbidgee River.

One gets a full, uninterrupted 180 degree view of that incredible sky! Imagine what the stars would be like at night!

HayPlains1

Not even a main highway between Sydney and Adelaide can create a distraction from this incredible place – the Hay Plains. It is one of the flattest places on earth with only 17m (56 feet) of difference in elevation between the highest and lowest point in the Hay Shire (which covers 11,348km(sq) or 4,381mi(sq).

Truck
The Hay Council has constructed rest stops at regular intervals along this route. These are sensitively designed, simple structures which blend sympathetically with the surrounding environment. But they are insignificant against the awesome backdrop of the Plains.

RestStop

RestStop1

During the past week, my work took me on a 1200km (745 mile) round trip through this amazing place. I recalled from previous visits that alighting from one’s vehicle to take photos was a foolhardy thing to do. Within a few minutes, one was befriended by a dozen or so pesky flies! And yes, once again, these photos were indeed taken with a lot of insecticidal assistance! 😆

The only way of getting away from these pests is to return to the vehicle and to entertain your travelling companions as you squirm around, sliding into your seat – trying to avoid trapping some of the insects inside the car as you enter. (Getting the latter out again is a whole new challenge which is either highly amusing or somewhat frustrating 🙂 . It is preferable to do this before continuing to drive as, ironically, these critters will spend the remainder of the trip flying up and down the windscreen in your field of vision trying to get out!)

If you are interested in seeing where these plains are located, they are around the town of Hay – shown on the map below.

I have no idea why there are so many flies on the Hay Plains. However, it is worth putting up with them to see this amazing place. And who knows? You may get to see someone performing the famous Australian salute (waving the flies away!)

It was a great trip and it was nice to see the plains looking refreshed and relatively green after recent rains.

What is the flattest place you have ever visited? Was it as spectacular as the Hay Plains?

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19 Responses to Have you ever… visited the Hay Plains?

  1. I grew up near Griffith; we went to visit school friends there, and to dances, when we were teenagers. Three or four times times we drove through on the way to Adelaide. Your description’s right on, except for looking lush: i’ve never seen it other than bone dry, except for the time there was a locust plague, when the place was alive and we had to use the windscreen wipers to see. I think it’s the flattest and most featureless place I’ve ever seen – certainly over such vast distances. I remember laughing after crossing the Canadian prairies. People kept telling me I was crazy, there was nothing there, that they were as flat as a pancake. What an awful exaggeration and slight to those gorgeous undulating plains!

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    • Madoqua says:

      Wanderlust Gene, thank you for your lovely response to my post. I can only imagine what your car must have looked like after driving through thousands of locusts – definitely not a week to be on car washing duty 🙂
      The lushness of the vegetation was really a relative term, perhaps it would have been better described as looking very healthy! I too have seen the plains in the heat of summer when they are parched and it seems that all the plants are dead. It is a hard, tough environment in those periods.

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  2. I could never figure out how the farmers and their poor sheep survived! It was all “Hay, Hell and Booligal ” when I was there! 🙂

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  3. Ian Fraser says:

    Hello Madoqua – too long between postings, I’ve missed them! I’m so glad you don’t take the conventional view of The Plains, ie that they’re ‘boring’. We severely damaged something very beautiful by clearing most of the trees, over-grazing and over-burning – it’s not then appropriate if we don’t like the result. In any case, as you so eloquently describe, there is still beauty and majesty there. But there are reports from 100 years ago of flocks of Bustards 1000 strong out there; wouldn’t that have been special?! Thanks for a great posting.

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    • Madoqua says:

      Ian, thanks for your response. 2013 is turning into a frantically busy year, so much going on! It’s great, but I seem to run out of time each week and my blogging is suffering as a result 😦

      I agree that it would certainly be absolutely incredible to see such huge flocks of birds when they used to live on the plains. What a shame they are now gone. It is still a stunning place though, just so big and flat.

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  4. Helen says:

    The closest I’ve come to somewhere like this was at White Cliffs, when returning to Adelaide. Stayed there the night in the underground motel. In the morning, I watched the sunrise and although it was quite cold, it was amazing seeing a whole sky without any obstructions. That was incredible!

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    • Madoqua says:

      Wow, staying in an underground room at White Cliffs sounds like fun. The stars would certainly be very spectacular way out there.
      White Cliffs is on my ‘yet to get to’ list 🙂

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  5. pommepal says:

    G’day Madoqua, good to see you back and with a very interesting account of the plains. I have not been there and it looks even flatter than parts of the Nullabour. Guess you would not see any mailboxes out there…

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  6. Great post, thanks! I would love to visit Australia one day.

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  7. Greg says:

    Did the Hay to Mildura trip about 40 yr.s ago and have never forgotten it. I often tell people about the flatness and the stillness. It has an aura all of its own.
    I’m finally re-visiting Hay Plains next Christmas, can’t wait.

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  8. Diana says:

    A drive from Hay to Ivanhoe has been a treat after the rain last year..green every where and so many birds..incredible!

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  9. Pingback: There’s No Fish in the Murray |

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