Located next to the River is Mary Ann Reserve, named to honour the first Paddle Steamer, the “Mary Ann”, mostly built at Gumeracha by William Randell and his brothers.
This is a very nice reserve, with more than one Monument to look at.
Monuments commemorate the “Mary Ann”, and Captain Sturt’s epic voyage with his men down the Murray passing this point in February 1830.
A “square” boiler is mounted in the Rotunda, and is a replica of the original boiler from that boat. The original boiler is now part of the new “Mannum Dock Museum of River History”. A second Rotunda was built 1989 in Place of one built 1913 to commemorate William Randell’s death. This Rotunda was destroyed by a falling branch in 1989. Located next to a Tree trunk, is a board showing heights of recorded floods.
The scenic lookout at Mannum is one of the best. If you can come here, you will not be disappointed, for the views are great of the River Murray, the cliffs, Mannum, all the houseboats and all the going ons below. The River Murray was in flood and we had a very good view from here. Below, in the Trees, many Birds were roosting.
Fantastic views and a MUST VISIT!
This walk is in recognition of brothers David and John Shearer.
The Brother's were invited to come to Mannum by farmers in the area. They began their business in a small blacksmith's shop at the top of Randell Street, and later produced machinery, revolutionizing farming in Australia.
The Walk begins at the Visitor centre, and is expected to take approx 40mins. This walk took me along the main street where many historic buildings are located. There were barred windows on the Bottle shop, this was because it was the site of the first 'jail' in Mannum. Legend has it a man was chained to the floor inside.
The Mannum Hotel, a huge Hotel with lovely lacework on its verandahs, was originally named the 'Bogan', was built in 1869.
Historical plaques are displayed on many of the buildings, including the Institute which opened in 1882 and was extended in 1911. It has been used as a Council Chambers, a court, a picture theatre and for many other occassions.
The ANZ Bank is another old building, and there are many other interesting sights, like a man painted beside a door, he looked so real!
Mannum has three different walks you can do, just pick up a brochure from the tourist information centre. For the Randell walk, allow approx 1.5hours. On all these walk, look for the heritage plaques beside the old buildings.
On the Randell walk, I saw the heritage listed Thomas Randell's house, built in the 1850's. This house was the first solid stone house built in Mannum. Thomas was the first resident of Mannum and a “Jack of all trades”. He was a very busy man.
Thomas, opened a store in a lean-to on the Woolshed which was flooded during the town floods, so he added two rooms to his home and used them as a bakery and general store. He also helped to build the “Mary Ann”’ Paddlesteamer, and was a member of the crew in the early years. He built wood stacks for boats and collected leeches by sending Aboriginals into the swamps to allow leeches to attach themselves to their legs ! He sold these in Adelaide to Doctor's and Mr. F.H. Faulding [chemist] and others. What an eventful life he led!
This rare, historic engine is also on display at the Mannum Dock Museum.
Of more interest to men than myself, this beam engine was built and used to pump water from the dock when a paddle steamer was inside. When not employed for this task it was used to pump water to two underground tanks for irrigation for the gardens at Randell's home "Bleak House" on the hill above the dock.
More information is on the web-site.
I didn't see it working, but it does operate at different times.
The Randell Dry Dock was designed and constructed as a timber floating dry dock in 1873 for use on Lake Alexandrina, but was a failure as the water wasn't deep enough. It was converted to a timber floating dry dock, and was the only graving dock on the inland river system.
As it was the only facility of its type on the inland river system, it attracted a large number of river vessels for repair and re-fitting, with up to 30 vessels using the dock per year. It is estimated that over half of all vessels in use on the river system used the Dock at some time.
For 50 years, the Dock was the focus for an important local industry associated with the repair and re-fitting of river vessels.
The Dry Dock is in the Museum grounds, but you can see it through the fence for free!
As it happened, the River Murray was in flood when we were at Mannum in May 2012.
We went to the Mannum Dock Museum, and in here, they had the flood levels marked and photo's of the old time floods.
The River Murray floods are essential for the ecological system, but disastrous for the people whose houses and businesses are flooded. Bird life, fish breeding and growth of trees and shrubs require periodical floods to sustain their place in the life system surrounding the river environs.
The 1956 River Murray flood is considered to be the greatest catastrophe in South Australia's history and is the largest flood ever recorded in the state.
The 1956 flood occurred due to excessive, heavy rains in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The Murray and the Darling River's were both in flood at the same time and the excess water made its way to South Australia. Many river towns were submerged for several months. The flood waters hit Mannum in July 1956, and left behind mud and debris and a terrible smell.
Six hundred homes in the district were flooded, as well as two hundred holiday shacks. Some were totally destroyed.
Children were ferried across the river in a boat to get to school and men had to row their boats to the pubs which were serving from bars on the first floor. Rowers trained in Mannum’s main street.
At the height of the 1956 flood an estimated 15000 people visited Mannum in one day just to see the flood. - disasters seem to attract the crowds.
For me, it was very interesting reading and seeing photo's on this flood, as I have heard how my parents came here with food and helped with sandbagging to save the town.
The Mannum Dock Museum is actually located at the Visitor centre. The Museum incorporates the Paddle Steamer Marion, the historic Randell Dry Dock and Key's Beam Engine. This is where you pay and gain entry to this Museum.
The Mannum Dock Museum of River History, is a heritage attraction showing displays that follow the life of the River Murray from its birth. I was able to see fossilised sea creatures that once inhabited the Murray River area when it was an inland seabed. I learnt about occupation by the Aboriginal, how they gathered food, did boat building, trading and saw the Ngarrindjeri dreaming display. There was information on the coming of white settlement and the birth of Mannum as a settlement.
The Museum takes you back to the start of the river trade, its growth and the important part it has played in our history.
I really thought this was a very well done and interesting Museum.
OPEN....9am - 5pm Monday to Friday.....10am - 4pm Saturday and Sunday
ADMISSION IN 2012....Adult $7.50...Child $3.50.....Concession $5.00
They take cash, Mastercard and Visa.
The Mannum Visitor Information Centre is located in the Museum foyer.
It is open seven days a week and staffed by local volunteers who were friendly and helpful. I really love the way the counter has been built into a Boat, it looks great! Brochures and maps, Marine souvenirs, books and information is all available here. Above these items, is a flood line marker on the wall, showing the height of the 1956 floods in Mannum. As you can see, they were really high!
It is at the Information Centre where the Museum is located, and where we bought our admission tickets.
Mannum Visitor Information Centre is located beside the River Murray in Randell Street.
Toilets are located at the centre.
OPEN....9am – 5pm Monday to Friday......10am - 4pm Saturday & Sunday
(closed Good Friday and Christmas Day)
You can’t help seeing the 1875 vintage wooden drydock (that redgum timber really lasts!) as you enter the Information Centre. It is the nucleus of the Museum, which extends through the adjacent buildings around and behind the Information Centre. The dry dock itself held the paddle steamer PS Marion from 1963 until her restoration in the late 1990s – there was a small display on board, but both the ship and the dock became increasingly derelict. What a marvellous transition there has been in recent years with the new museum!
Those who share my enjoyment in seeing things like a working steam powered beam engine, are sure to enjoy the tour around the outside exhibits. Indoors, the museum holds less substantial artifacts, photos, and other memorabilia of the riverboat days. I was particularly fascinated by the old river charts, kept on long rolls showing sections of the river and its seemingly endless convolutions. The old chart on the wall (photo 4) illustrates the point as it disappears into the distance.
This is a highly recommended visit and the entry price was relatively token – from memory about $5A each! That also entitles you to visit the PS Marion, now proudly tied to the wharf downstream a little at the Mary Ann Park (and to be subject of a later tip).
As you drive into Mannum on the main road from Adelaide, the main street heads downhill parallel to the river. While not large, the town has most shopping facilities you’re likely to need during a visit. This is, after all, the major centre for rural-based industries in the district. There are several pleasant buildings, but the main street holds little to really stir excitement until you reach the Mannum Visitor Information Centre and Museum down at the bottom of the street, on the right hand side.
Even if you have only limited time, I would suggest that a visit to the Information Centre is well worthwhile. The staff are helpful and friendly, and there is a wealth of free excellent information material on the area and on the old riverboats that you can take away and digest later. There also is a very good choice of related books and other material, as well as local crafts for sale. If the days of riverboats stir your imagination, as they should, this is the start of the Riverboat Trail (photo 2)– get your information here!