Mannum, South Australia

Life on the river

The town of Mannum owes its creation to the paddle steamer, the son of a farmer who had the pastoral lease on the Murray river nearby built the first paddle steamer that went up and down the river. The Murray river is Australia's main waterway, the Darling river which rises in Queensland flows into the Murray making the Murray-Darling river system the longest in Australia.

The river is shallow so the paddle steamer was the most appropriate water craft to ply the river trade. Eventually it was all replaced by road transport, but Mannum continued to have a ship building industry well into the 20th century.

Mannum, being about 90 minutes from Adelaide (depending on what suburb you live in!) is a popular holiday town for those who enjoy water sports. 

It's the home port for the paddle steamer the Murray Princess, it takes tourists on week long cruises up and down the river.

A smaller paddle steamer that takes people along the river, the Proud Mary. It just happened to be leaving the dock when I was there.

The Proud Mary going up the river.

The river has had some major floods, this post shows the level of the water at various floods. The worst floods were the 1956 ones, and the top of the post shows the height of the water.

Pelicans can be found along the river, these ones were quite used to humans and didn't even move when people came up to take photos of them!

As Mannum in a popular holiday area for those who enjoy the river, the nearby banks have 'shacks', which are holidays homes used on weekends and in the warmer months. They are called 'shacks' because when these holiday retreats first went up in the 1950s or '60s, they were indeed 'shacks' temporary, cheaply built structures where you could camp out and rough it for a few days. Now they're still called 'shacks' but are well appointed, often luxurious houses!

There is no bridge at Mannum to get across the river, there is a cable ferry. These cable ferries were my total experience of ferries before I spent time in Europe backpacking and I went to catch a ferry to Ireland, I was very shocked to see a huge boat that was the 'ferry' I was expecting a larger version of the above ferry!

Besides the shacks, another hugely popular way to spend time on the river is on a houseboat, many of them are based in Mannum. This one just happened to be passing by while I was taking pictures.

Mannum has a small museum showcasing its past as a major paddle steamer port. The paddle steamer Marion is docked there, the Marion was launched in 1897 and worked on the river, it was eventually brought to Mannum. It was docked on the river and was a static display, you could visit and climb aboard but it didn't go anywhere. Eventually it was restored and now does do trips along the river at certain during the year or else it can be visited as part of a visit to the Mannum Dock Museum of River History.

This is a dry dock that was built by William Randell, who established Mannum as a major river port. It was constructed in 1873 of river red gums (eucalyptus) and was the only facility of its type on the river for ships to come in for repairs and refitting. (Now part of the museum)

The main street of Mannum, called Randell Street after the founder of the town.

I love these old country pubs (the second one is called the Pretoria Hotel), often they are the largest building in the town and there's more than one! Lots of iron lace on the balconies and being South Australian, they're constructed in stone, (not much wood around as in the other states, where colonial buildings are often wooden) There's coffee table books you can find in Australian bookstores where photographers go around and photograph old pubs and then publish the results in book form.

The Mannum War Memorial, adding to my collection of small town war memorials!

Mannum is a lovely, relaxing town to spend time in. These pictures were all taken during the winter so there was a lot less activity on the river (and much quieter!) During the summer, there are jet skies, and speedboats with people water skiing and a lot more houseboat traffic.