While cruising the Murray River in South Australia you’ll likely encounter the largest authentic paddle steamer in the southern hemisphere. Taking 120 passengers from Mannum upstream to Blanchetown or Morgan, and downstream to Murray Bridge, PS Murray Princess provides a window into the history, flora, fauna and sheer beauty of the Murray River.
Her decks, comprising 60 cabins in total, are named after significant Murray River explorers, pioneers and entrepreneurs.
Captain Charles Napier Sturt (28 April 1795 – 16 June 1869) led expeditions into Australia’s interior on a mission to discover an inland sea. Having already discovered the Darling River in New South Wales, his interest was peaked to determine the path of NSW’s western flowing rivers.
Following the river system downstream from Sydney as well as upstream from the Murray mouth, he concluded many of the central rivers merged into the Murray. At 2,508 kilometres in length, the Murray is Australia’s longest river.
William Richard Randell (2 May 1824 – 4 March 1911) arrived in South Australia from England in 1837 with his family. His father quickly became a wealthy landowner claiming 1532 acres stretching from Gumeracha to the Murray River.
While W. R. Randell was manager of the first steam flour mill in South Australia he also helped out on his father’s property droving cattle to the river. It was here he envisioned paddle steamers navigating the Murray- Darling river system transporting South Australian produce to NSW and the first paddle steamer, “Mary-Ann” was born.
A restored and tricked up Mary-Ann shares the dock with PS Murray Princess in Mannum.
Francis William Cadell (9 February 1822 – 1879) followed in William Randell’s wake by building the “PS Lady Augusta” in Sydney. On completion, she was sailed to Goolwa at the Murray mouth and ventured upstream along the Murray to the Darling River connection.
The South Australian Government awarded Cadell £4000 for completing this journey, however it appears William Randell had not only achieved this earlier, but had almost doubled the distance. Ah governments!
The Scottish Cadell was not only known as an explorer, but a slave trader too!
The Chaffey Brothers Deck.
George Chaffey (1848-1932) and William Chaffey (1856-1926) were Canadian brothers responsible for the development of California’s townships of Etiwanda, Ontario and Upland. The Victorian Government got wind of the brothers’ irrigation ideas and invited William to review the irrigation prospects in the Murray Valley.
William was excited and cabled George to sell up in the states and meet him in Australia. 250,000 acres in what is now Mildura, Victoria and the same in Renmark, South Australia covers the “Riverland” or the “food bowl” of Australia.
The remaining deck is the sun deck where unobstructed views of the Murray can be availed while cruising at a comfortable 6 knots.
The PS Murray Princess is also made up of entertainment areas including a single sitting dining saloon, a bar and 2 lounges, a gym and offers free wifi.
An elevator conveniently connects Randell, Cadell and Sturt decks and a guest laundry is made available to rinse smalls on longer journeys.
Cruising the Mighty Murray on an authentic paddle steamer: it’s a thing we love….
Shona’s award winning travel blog shares tips and tricks on where to eat, drink, explore & shop in any given destination. At home ordering street food or perusing a fine dining menu, she seeks out venues with a conscience who promote local produce and sustainability. Find her in markets, museums, art galleries and on walking tours as well as wineries, breweries, distilleries and restaurants. Wherever she is, she’s always looking for something a little different to share with her readers. Follow her travels at www.paraphernalia.co or subscribe to her Shenanigans Report http://paraphernalia.co/subscribe-form/ so as not to miss a post. email@example.com.