Heritage and History

Discover the tales of a bustling river trade when the paddle steamer ruled and visit what was once South Australia’s busiest inland port. Uncover the quirky tales of times gone by, visit historic homesteads & hotels, some with ghosts, and retrace footsteps of the past on the many town walks.

Cruising the river

Steaming on regular intervals throughout the year, visitors to the Riverland can experience the ambience of the Murray River and the atmosphere of a bygone era onboard the Paddle Steamer (PS) Industry.
  READ MORE 
 

The PS Industry was built at Goolwa by the State Government and commissioned in 1911 as a workboat for the SA Engineering and Water Supply Department. It was designed specifically to remove snags from the river, clearing the passage for other river steamers and to drive piles where needed. The Industry was later used in the construction and maintenance of the locks and weirs.

When Renmark was threatened by the highest water levels ever recorded along the Murray during the 1956 Flood, the Industry stood by with steam up, ready to evacuate those who remained during those critical days of the flood when a total evacuation appeared imminent.

The PS Industry was retired in 1969 and replaced by the steel work boat 'Maratala', which is the aboriginal name for 'industry'.

The PS Industry was given to the town of Renmark in 1970, where it became a floating static museum along the Renmark riverfront. The local community worked to restore the vessel to steam working order with the help of many volunteers.

In 1990 the PS Industry featured in the film ‘River Kings’.

In 1995, the PS Industry was recommissioned as a historic passenger type vessel with financial commitments being met by running cruises and taking charters. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the tireless volunteers and community sponsors, the PS Industry will continue to be enjoyed by many more generations of visitors to Renmark.

River Past

Pioneers from many countries have created a new life with the waters of the Murray River following the arrival of Aborigines over thirty thousand years ago. Paddle steamers gave way to rail and roads, ferries and bridges. New crops and technologies allowed the dry lands to bloom and have created the most efficient irrigated region in Australia. Many monuments and living museums bring our pioneering past to life. Discover our river past on a heritage themed itinerary, developed by our local experts.
ITINERARY

 

 

Named by explorer Captain Charles Sturt in 1830, the Murray River played a crucial role in the development of modern Australia. Pioneers from many countries have created a new life with the waters of the Murray River following the arrival of Aborigines over thirty thousand years ago

In 1887, Canadian engineers and brothers George and Ben Chaffey established Australia’s first irrigation colony at Renmark. Encouraged by the success of Renmark’s fruit and wine industries, other irrigation settlements soon sprung up, including Berri (1910), Loxton (1940s) and Blanchetown, the site of the Murray’s first lock and weir, opened in 1922.

Paddle steamers ruled from the 1860’s to 1910 and gave way to rail and roads, ferries and bridges. New crops and technologies allowed the dry lands to bloom and have created the most efficient irrigated region in Australia. Many monuments and living museums bring our pioneering past to life. 


Please click here to view a full list and map of River Past attractions in the Riverland

 

Ferries, Locks and Weirs

It’s a fascinating experience to feel the water level change right beneath your feet as you transfer through a river lock. Between the 1920s and 1930s a series of navigable locks and weirs were built along the Murray River to make South Australia’s river highway permanently passable.
  ITINERARY
 


Harnessing the Murray Trail

The survival of the early settlers and the pioneering river towns depended on their ingenuity to harness the waters of the Murray and divert them onto land. Start your journey from the pioneering townships of Kingston on Murray or nearby Moorook.


Lyrup Ferry

Initially built for paddle-steamers to transport cargo and supplies, the locks are now used by houseboats, cruise vessels and recreational craft.

Whether you’re on a boat passing through or standing above the lock chamber, it is an amazing experience to feel or watch the water level in the locks rise and fall entirely by gravity. For boats and houseboats it normally takes 20–25 minutes to pass through a lock.

The Riverland has six locks and weirs situated along its 362 kilometre section of the river; from Lock 1 at Blanchetown, Lock 2 at Taylorville, Lock 3 at Overland Corner, Lock 4 at Bookpurnong (between Berri and Loxton), Lock 5 at Paringa to Lock 6 at Murtho (above Renmark).

Visit or use the locks between 8am–11:30am and 1–4:30pm any day (except Christmas Day). The grounds around the locks are well-maintained with good facilities and interpretative information for visitors. Locks 2, 4 and 5 have barbeque facilities, ideal for a picnic.

Ferries are a free 24 hour service that can take up to eight or 12 vehicles (depending on the ferry) across the river. Riverland ferry crossings are in operation at Cadell, Lyrup, Morgan and Waikerie. As the ferries are registered as boats, each one has a name, usually named after a water bird. Keep an eye out for the sign indicating the name of the boat and don’t forget to wave to the ferry operator on the way on and off the ferry, it’s a friendly traditional gesture.