Welcome to Australia's best kept secret
Mannum, widely recognised as the birthplace of Australia's Murray River paddle steamer, is an historic town with an active boating tradition. Mannum is an ideal place for a short holiday to explore the magic of the river. Hire your own houseboat, take a cruise, go canoeing or visit the many local attractions.
Mannum is situated on the broad reaches of the Lower Murray and is easily accessible by road, being 100 km from Adelaide along the South Eastern Freeway via Murray Bridge, or even less (approximately 80 km) if the scenic route via Gumeracha and Birdwood is chosen.
This easy accessibility makes Mannum one of the most popular day trip venues in South Australia, and with its natural beauty, unique history and heritage, the area offers visitors the opportunity to relax in a pleasant, friendly environment.
Mannum’s early history developed around the personal desire of William Randell, the son of an early pastoralist, to operate a steamboat on the River Murray, and in 1853 Randell launched his Paddle Steamer "Mary Ann" at Noa-No landing, 5 km upstream from the present site of Mannum, and in doing so, opened up one of the most romantic eras in the history of Australia.
This paddle steamer, the first on the River Murray in South Australia, pioneered the navigation route to the stations along the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers and in the early years, the goldfields of Victoria.
The boiler of this historic vessel is currently preserved and is on display at the Mannum Dock Musem. Randell transferred his operations from Noa-No to the present site of Mannum during 1853 when he built a wharf, goods shed and cottage, and from this small beginning, the present township evolved.
The River trade opened up a transport network for goods and services along the entire river system, and in 1877 David and John Shearer established a blacksmith and implement business in Mannum and used the River system to market their range of agricultural products. This company (now Horwood Bagshaw Limited) remains today, the mainstay of Mannum’s economy.
The rural areas of Mannum were, until the early 1870s, controlled by pastoralists who ran large cattle stations. However, in the period 1872-1883 many new farmers, principally of German stock, settled the land to grow cereals and for sheep production.
These settlers provided the town with the economic boost required for development, and tradespersons, butchers, bakers, banks and other services established businesses to swell the population to approximately 770 in the early 1880s.
This rich and unique heritage has provided Mannum with the opportunity to become known as the "Birthplace of the Murray River Paddle Steamers".