Exhibition on display: 30th June 2020
Doug Baker, like David Shearer all those years ago, had a dream to build a replica of the Shearer Steam Carriage and we are privileged and honoured to work with Doug and Roger Baker, Bruce Weir-Smith and their team over the past few years to bring this dream to life and the first stage of the carriage was launched at the All Steamed Up event on 18th November 2018. Check out the exhibition that shows the extraordinary makings of the replica carriage from AutoCad drawing through to the first stage of the carriage.
The Murray Darling Basin stretches across four States in Australia and is home to the country’s three longest rivers, the Murray, the Darling and the Murrumbidgee. Every river has a story and these ever changing landscapes are, and have been, a lifeline to so many. As far as records date back, many river stories have evolved and recorded as to the men who played major roles with the contribution of women often overlooked.
The Women of the River Country exhibition has been produced as a national exhibition to highlight stories of remarkable river women who has played vital roles in shaping our mighty river country.
The exhibition showcases the stories of 19 unique women from the mid 1800’s to present day. From early pioneers to an internationally acclaimed sporting icon, to a world class musician, all of whom have been connected with our magnificent river-scape. More
We invite you to experience the history of our region and town. Upon entering the Museum you step straight into the undersea world. Share this with the sea creatures that once inhabited the Murray River area when it was an inland seabed. Also in this area are many examples of fossilised creatures and sea shells to be found in the cliffs along the Murray.
From here we move to the Indigenous peoples display depicting food gathering, boat building, trading, Ngarrindjeri dreaming. This display is dedicated to the late Richard Hunter, Nganguraku Elder, in recognition of his valuable input into the display and the implementation of this part of our museum.
On now to the exciting River Trade era. The first paddle steamer to ply the Murray was the Mary Ann which was built by William Randell, and launched at Noa No Landing upstream from Mannum in 1852. In the late 1800s the development of inland Australia was owed much to the main highway provided by the Murray and the paddle steamers that plied its waters, taking in supplies and equipment and bringing out produce such as wool and wheat. The PS Marion was a major part of this heyday of trade and travel on the Murray.
The Shearer brothers established a local business producing agricultural equipment which was taken from Mannum by river to many parts of Australia. Here we see PS Marion being loaded with Shearer strippers for shipment upriver. David Shearer also built Australia’s first steam powered car, which is still operable and is housed at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood.
Spend a few minutes here and view in comfort a selection of footage on historical subjects relevant to the Murray River and our local area. Now take a trip upstairs to the mezzanine level. Here are more adventures. The history of the PS Marion, the story of her restoration and recommissioning in 1994. Walk across the bridge to the front mezzanine to view a duck hunting dinghy, wooden ‘regulation four’ rowing boat, Coorong netting boat and learn to tie mariner’s knots. Learn the history of the Mannum to Adelaide pipeline and the supply of water to South Australia’s capital city. Go outside on to the viewing platform for a great view of the river.
Return to the ground floor and visit the Arnold Gallery. Here we learn of Captain JG Arnold, the Swedish boy who ran away to sea at thirteen, migrated later in life to Australia and became a major part of Mannum’s early history, which is also depicted here. This area is also used from time to time by visiting exhibitions through Country Arts SA.
Finally, major floods that have affected Mannum. Our street scene is set up to recreate Mannum’s main street, Randell Street. Photographic records show major floods of 1890, 1917, 1931 and the biggest and most recent major flood of 1956, including stories from the newspapers of the day. Moving outside walk under the verandah and along a streetscape to view Murray Shipping Limited’s replica booking office. Step into a small room we call Slaves of the River bursting at the seams with model paddle boats. Experience the living conditions of Engineering and Water Supply employees as they built the Mannum to Adelaide pipeline back in the 1950s.
Noteworthy in River Murray history is the Clayton and Shuttleworth semi portable steam engine. A significant object in the Museum’s collection the engine is only 12 years younger than the Mary Ann’s boiler. Though not finally proven the engine is considered to be the oldest piece of paddle boat machinery on the River Murray. It almost certainly was the original plant installed in the PS Murrumbidgee launched in 1865 as a stern wheeler before being converted to a conventional side wheeler. The engine is not beyond being restored to original condition, and steamed from an external source, this may well be the Museum’s next major project.
The exhibition presents Captain John Weaver’s memoirs of the river trade and paddle steamer passenger tours of the 1930s to the early 1950s on the Murray Darling River systems. This telling of our fascinating river history has been taken from personal accounts of a man who grew up on the river and fell in love with it, took leave to pursue a career as an airline pilot, and then returned to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming Captain of a Murray River paddle steamer.
Forming part of the South Australia River Boat Trail which aims to inform users of the river about the type and number of historic sites that still exist along this section of the Murray. All of the sites are either the remains of paddle steamers, barges and other vessels; or buildings, structures and other features related to shipping on the River Murray from the 1850s to the 1940s. The Randell Dry Dock was originally constructed in 1873 as a floating dock, to be used in repairing or refitting vessels. It was built by shipwright ‘Little Tommy Smith’ for AH Landseer at Milang. Captain William Randell bought the dock to service the increasing fleet of paddle steamers and barges using the Murray Darling rivers. Randell towed the dock from Milang to Mannum using the PS Nil Desperandum. He had excavated a section of the river bank to take the dock. Only after ‘slight modifications’ the once floating dock became a fixed dry dock. on the 6th June 1976 the first vessel PS Lady Daly entered the dock for repairs.
Back to the Museum | Learn about the Great Floods | Shearer Motor Car | History of PS Marion Take a historic Mannum walk