Engineering Heritage National Marker - Paddle Steamer "Mary Ann"Print Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Robert Morris

The Engineering Heritage National Marker recognises the role of Paddle Steamer "Mary Ann" in Australia's engineering and industrial heritage. 

Note: The Australian Engineering Heritage Register is a heritage register maintained by Engineers Australia to recognise and preserve Australia's engineering and industrial heritage by recording the history of significant engineering works and by placing markers and interpretative panels at heritage sites. The register has no legislative standing. The register was first established in 1984 and, by the end of 2016, had recognised 212 engineering heritage works.

Captain William Randell launched his steamer the "Mary Ann" at Mannum on the 25th March 1853. 



Address:River Lane, Mary Ann Reserve, Mannum, 5238
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.915868
Long: 139.311641
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Technology


Front Inscription

Paddle steamer Mary Ann
First steamer on the Murray - Darling, 1853

Engineering Heritage National Marker 

The PS Mary Ann was launched in 1853.  The small boat was able to travel 3000 miles (4800 kms) along the Murray, from Goolwa to Moama / Echuca, and back.  Visit the Mannum Dock Museum to see the original boiler of the Mary Ann and learn more about the river trade.  You can also board the PS Marion, launched in 1897.  Admission charges apply.

Building the Mary Ann
The Mary Ann was designed and built by William Randell and his brothers.  Incredibly Randell had never built or sailed a boat before.  The frame was made at their flour mill in Gumeracha and hauled to the river where it was completed in February 1853.  The boiler and engine were made by local engineers in Adelaide.  In 1855 the Mary Ann was lengthened and then became half of the twin-hulled Gemini which travelled up the Murrumbidgee in 1858.

The Concertina Boiler
The Mary Ann`s first boiler was square - a simple shape which was easy to make.  However, the plates were thin.  Under pressure, the side of the boiler flexed and Randell called it his "concertina" boiler.  He had to wrap it with heavy chains to keep it safe but it worked.  Towards the end of 1853, Randell replaced the boiler and the old one was dumped.  

Nearly 40 years later it was salvaged and put on display in Mannum`s main street.  In June 1912 it was put on a concrete base under a protective roof and in 1930 it was moved to the Mary Ann Reserve.  In 2001, the old boiler was moved to the Mannum Dock Museum and a locally-made replica put in its place.  

The River Trade
The Mary Ann was the first steamer on the Murray - Darling but was too small to qualify for the bonus offered by the Government of SA.  This went to Captain Francis Cadell`s Lady Augusta, but both boats proved that the river was suitable for navigation.  Within 10 years, there were 20 steamers working - delivering stores to stations and towns along the river and returning loaded down with bales of wool.  Within 20 years, there were hundreds.  Later passengers were carried, which opened the river to tourism.

Captain William Randell (1824 - 1911)

William Richard Randell was on 13 when he came to South Australia with is family in 1837.  Despite his lack of experience, he soon became one of the best-known river boat captains.  Starting with the Mary Ann, he built up a fleet of boats, erected the first building in Mannum (the Wool Store), and established a dry dock.  The No 1 Weir and Lock at Blanchetown is named after him.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au