This is an easy walk, put together by the Morgan Community Development and Tourism Association. If you do not have the energy, it is possible to drive most of this trek, walking only the short distance of grassed area on the Railway Reserve. The only small fee payable is if you go through the Landseer’s Warehouse Museum, which is recommended. It is possible to walk the entire walk in about 60 minutes, but take your time and enjoy this great town and historic attractions. Some of the buildings are on private property, and you are asked to respect them as such. This walk starts and finishes on the banks of the Murray adjacent to the Morgan ferry crossing.
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Click the "Map" tab below to see the route we've provided. Icons on the map are the POIs you'll need for navigation purposes. Be sure to check the list of Nearby Places
on each POI page.
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The Murray River
The source of the Murray River starts high in the Snowy Mountains
in New South Wales
and for the next 2530 Kilometres, flows west and then turns south at Morgan before its waters meet the Southern Ocean, just south of Goolwa. The Murray River is the Life Blood for south eastern Australia
and Adelaide, the Capital City for South Australia
, relies heavily on it for its States drinking water. The Murray is Australia
’s longest river and the 15th longest river in the world.
The Murray is continuously navigable from the Yarrawonga Weir through to Goolwa, a length of 1986 kilometres, with thirteen weirs and locks along the way. The Murray has been very important for many Aboriginal tribes for thousands of years along its length, and the first European to travel the full length was Captain Charles Sturt and his party of seven men in a whale boat in 1830. On the 14th January, 1830, Sturt and his part of men entered a “broad and noble river”, which he named the Murray after Sir George Murray, an English Statesman, and Secretary of State and Colonies in Australia
. Finally on the 9th February 1830, Sturt and his party of men interred a large freshwater lake which he named Lake Alexandrina. Leaving their whale boat, they walked over sandhills and met the Southern Ocean and finally reached the mouth of the Murray, where the fresh water lake entered the sea.
In 1853 the first Murray River Paddle Steamer, the “Mary Ann” was built by William Randell and launched near Mannum in South Australia
. It was from this date, that the River trade era burst into life, that would open up the vast inland regions of Australia
that were liked to the Murray and its tributaries.
As early as 1851 and possibly earlier, land in the Morgan area was held under pastoral leasehold. The first attempts at sheep farming at Nor’ West Bend were unsuccessful mainly due to heavy losses of stock from starvation, ravages from wild dogs and poisonous weeds. Seeing that most of the River frontages were sold or parcelled off for commonage, it was then difficult to water stock on the North West Bend run.
Leases on land covered approximately 100 square miles, and included land which was later designated as special survey blocks and extended along the Western Bank of the River from today’s township of Morgan, south to where Brenda Park now stands today.
The township of Morgan was named by Governor Musgrave in honour of Sir William Morgan M.L.C., who was at the time Chief Secretary of the State of South Australia
, and later twice Governor of South Australia
. Morgan was a Government surveyed town and while surveying the town in 1878, Charles W Smith, Surveyor, in a memorandum to the Surveyor General of South Australia
, wrote that the local Aboriginal people of the area, called the town area that he was surveying “Koerabko”, which meant a great place for honey and meeting place of the tribes.
At the time of the survey, Charles Smith in his diagrams of the area shows, that there was a settlement at what was known as North West Bend, showing a Graves Reserve and some buildings, including a Hotel on the banks of the Murray on what is now the Ferry and Water Reserve adjoining the Railway Reserve. The town was finally laid out in 213 allotments, containing generally quarter acre blocks, which were offered at auction on the 16th May 1878 and the 27th June 1878.
Morgan was essentially a Government town, and was meant to be just one of a group of Government surveyed townships in the area, including Chowilla, just behind Morgan and North West Bend, over the other side of the River. Morgan went ahead, while the others did not. It could be even further stated that Morgan was a ‘political’ town, a product of early intercolonial jealousies. The SA Government of the day was most anxious to secure from Victoria
and New South Wales
, a much bigger slice of the river trade, and linkages of the river to the Adelaide by railway. New South Wales
had rail linkage with the Darling at Bourke, and Victoria
with Murray at Echuca. South Australia
and Adelaide had one big advantage over the other states and was now going to capitalize on it. Adelaide was much nearer to the mouth of the Murray, the end of the water, where it was at its deepest and lasted longer. At times when the top end
of the rivers in Victoria
and New South Wales
when they had run dry, the bottom end of South Australia
could still enjoy longer periods of navigable water.
With the high costs of taking goods all the way from the Murray mouth, and then loaded on bullock wagons for the slow, long haul to Strathalbyn, and then railed to Adelaide, there had to be a cheaper and more direct route to the rail terminals in Adelaide. A railway from Morgan was the logical answer. On the 17th April 1878, the steam locomotive ‘Pioneer” made its first trial run to Morgan, with a substantial part of the 30’ high Morgan wharf already in operation. Within a few short years, and at the height on the paddle steamer era, Morgan was to become the busiest river port in South Australia
With such rapid growth, there were six trains coming and going every day to Adelaide. During the peak high water season, there were five steam operated hydraulic cranes in use on the Morgan Wharf, with gangs of up to 40 men working the wharfs 24 hours a day. Boats and barges would be lines up for over a quarter of a mile along the banks of the river. With the large number of men and the hydraulic cranes, the boats would not have to wait very long periods before being unloaded and sent odd again in search of more revenue making cargo further up the river.
These steam paddle steamers, like all modes of modern day transport, only had a limited life span with the river trade and within 60 years, the paddle steamer trade would die, with these river icons put to rest on the side of the river banks, and rot away, with some being saved waiting for many years to again spring back into life, this time taking a human tourist trade on the mighty Murray River.