Mannum’s History


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 MUSEUM OF RIVER HISTORY”.

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 1870’s, 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 1880’s.

This rich and unique heritage has provided MANNUM with the opportunity to become known as the “BIRTHPLACE OF THE MURRAY RIVER PADDLE STEAMERS”.

Mannum today

MANNUM township currently supports a population of approximately 2000 residents who enjoy a lifestyle in keeping with the environment peaceful and relaxing.

The magnificent “MARY ANN RESERVE” situated adjacent to the towns business centre provides some 350 metres of lawned area right on the banks of the broad and majestic River Murray. This reserve, known locally as the “Rec”, provides a delightful setting for picnic and barbeques, (with coin operated barbeque facilities available), a boat ramp, adequate parking and a kiosk for light refreshments.

Cruise boats “PROUD MARY”, and “MURRAY PRINCESS”, are regular users of the historic town wharf at the reserve as part of their tour package. The “JESTER” is available for short cruises from this Wharf, the “MURRAY VENTURER” is also available for larger groups.

The “P.S. MARION”, an original steamer of the paddle boat era, is currently moored near the Heritage Listed Randell Dry Dock. This vessel has been restored to full steaming capacity. The vessel is owned by the Mid-Murray District Council and is an integral part of the new “MANNUM DOCK MUSEUM OF RIVER HISTORY”, which is open daily. Limited public cruises are available on the “P.S. MARION”. Details from the Visitor Centre.” email

MANNUM is centrally located to enable visitors to use the town as a base for their activities to visit places of interest in the immediate area.

The Mannum waterfalls reserve, situated approximately 9 Km from MANNUM on the Murray Bridge road is a geological phenomenon with large granite outcrops rising from the plains around the Reedy Creek to provide natural waterfalls. Alongside these outcrops are walking trails for those who wish to enjoy the scenery at close quarters.

The Younghusband Road on the eastern side of the River provides approximately 18 Km. of one of the most unique drives along the entire River system. The road winds past lagoons, quarries (from which rock was obtained to build the Goolwa Barrages), and the main river.

A scenic lookout, 200 metres above the river valley, is situated on the northern extremity of the town and provides visitors with an uninterrupted 6 Km. panorama of the River Murray Valley and the MANNUM township.

Noa-No Landing, the original launching place of William Randell’s “MARY ANN” is easily accessible, 5 Km. along the Purnong Road from MANNUM, and the spot is marked with a cairn recording the significance of the site. This trip takes in 15 Km. of river lagoons which are home and breeding grounds for many species of native birdlife.


The council owned MANNUM CARAVAN PARK, situated immediately north of the town ferries, has 165 powered sites in a well shaded and lawned area, cabin and bunkhouse accommodation and has excellent river frontage with a beach area and boat ramp. The park provides well maintained shower, toilet and laundry facilities, together with a kiosk and resident managers. The Hermann Gass bird sanctuary situated at the northern end of the caravan park, offers a peaceful tranquil viewing area for many birds (from September through to November some of the migratory birds can be seen)People come to celebrate the Waders Festival.

Shopping facilities are first class, with a supermarket, take-away food outlets, chemist, delicatessens and craft shops.

Sporting and recreational facilities are excellent, with clubs and venues providing bowls, tennis, golf (on a challenging nine hole fully greened course), football and cricket etc. Indoor sports are catered for in the magnificent MANNUM LEISURE CENTRE, which provides activities such as badminton, squash, basketball, rollerskating, etc., as well as a fully equipped gym. This centre is also used for theatrical performances, and apart from the large stage, all necessary public address, amplification systems and lighting are available.

Of course, there is always the river, and the area provides many concrete boat launching ramps to enable fishermen and ski-boat operators to safely launch their boats. Activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, etc., as well as cruising the mighty Murray River are enjoyed by many of the boaties who visit the area.

After enjoying your day, there is no better place to visit than the club. The MANNUM CLUB provides a meeting place for the community to relax and enjoy life, with an excellent dining room and bar facility which is supplemented by social functions such as live bands etc. on special weekends. Visitors are always welcometo this club. Many members are people from Adelaide who own property in the area.

The Barossa Valley, Victor Harbor, Goolwa, Birdwood, Hahndorf, Swan Reach, Blanchetown and Morgan are all areas that are easy day trips for visitors who choose MANNUM as their base.

As an alternative to using your vehicle as a means of transport, you may choose to hire a house-boat. There are many hire boats moored in the area, as we have perhaps the best cruising waters on the entire Murray system. Within relatively short distances the scenery changes from willow lined banks to mighty cliffs then back to magnificent gum tree lined banks and rural scenery. Turn the next corner, and the scene may repeat itself, or be completely different. Such is the life aboard a leisurely houseboat on the river.