On this day …….. 17th September 1853

In 1828-29, Captain Charles Sturt became the first explorer to follow the course of the Murray River down to its mouth at Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. In doing so, he opened up the possibilities for a new means of transporting goods and passengers through inland NSW to the southern coast. In 1851, the South Australian Government offered 2,000 pounds reward to the first two steamships to reach the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. 31-year-old Scottish shipbuilder, Francis Cadell, had the 32m iron paddlesteamer, ‘Lady Augusta’, built in Sydney with 2x20hp steam engines. He departed Goolwa on 25 August 1853, travelling 2,200 km upstream, reaching Swan Hill on 17 September 1853. Cadell’s competitor, William Randell, built his own 17m paddlesteamer ‘Mary Ann’ at Gumeracha and Mannum, with a single 8hp engine and a square boiler. Randell reached Swan Hill several hours behind Cadell, after the two had raced neck-and-neck most of the way. Cadell went on to carry cargo mostly along the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers; the small Murray River town of Cadell in South Australia now bears his name. Randell plied his trade along the Murray-Darling system. The town of Mannum grew up around his boat-yards and docks at his Reedy Creek station.