Hay, New South Wales (1940–46)

View of the Hay watchtower from below
The watchtower at Hay camp (AWM: 063341)

The Hay internment camp was located outside of the town of Hay in the Riverina district of southern New South Wales. The camp was purpose-built at the Hay showground and racecourse, with huts, roads, water supply and electric lights. It was built to accommodate Italian prisoners of war, but German, Italian and Japanese internees were also held there.

The camp consisted of three compounds, each holding 1000 people. The men lived in huts and living conditions were often difficult. Located on semi-arid grazing land, the camp was hit by dust storms caused by a drought during the war years. Clothing and personal items like toothbrushes were at times insufficient.

The internees did, however, have a successful market garden and farm, which provided the camp with vegetables, eggs, poultry, milk and animal fodder. The German and Italian internees also established camp schools, handiwork classes and a newspaper; they played soccer and designed a type of money to be used in the camp.

Hay camp closed in 1946.


The National Archives holds records about the Hay camp. A selection of these is listed below.

Members of the Hay internment camp orchestra (band) featuring an upright piano, drum kit, four banjos, trombone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, cornet and trumpet.
The Hay camp orchestra made up of Italian prisoners of war, 1943 (AWM: 030142/02)

Collection references

* These files have been digitised and are available online. Click on the reference number above to retrieve the item from the RecordSearch database. Then click on the 'View digital copy' icon to view the online file. It will appear in a new browser window.

 'Aliens and others': World War ll internment project

The National Archives of Australia is a partner in an Australian Research Council project titled ‘Aliens and others: representing citizenship and internment in Australia during World War II', headed by Dr Ilma O'Brien of the Victoria University of Technology.

As part of the project, Dr O'Brien is interested in collecting personal memories of World War II internment in Australia. If you have personal or family memories, photographs or documents about internment you would like to share, further information about the project can be obtained from Dr O'Brien at ilma.obrien@latrobe.edu.au.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019