Mannum, on the River Murray

Mannum has been a River Murray Port since the paddle steamer era These days, the river traffic is mostly houseboats, water skiers and car ferries. The Travel Dog team found a dog friendly caravan park, dog friendly ferries, a dog friendly information office and even a dog friendly paddle boat cruise, but it proved impossible to find a dog friendly restaurant on a rainy day.

One of the joys of reaching the Murray is travelling on car ferries. It’s generally necessary to cross the River Murray at least once a day and in SA the ferries are free. Whenever we catch one the folks let me ride up front and look out the window. I love it!

The car ferries are on a cable system and are constantly running to and fro so you never need to wait long.

Mannum Riverside Caravan Park is right in the middle of the historic part of town, just next to the car ferry and within easy walking range of most things. We also noted some council, pay and display campsites on the other side of the river which looked fine, but we needed a powered site this time, to catch up with blog writing!

View of Mannum and the River Murray from above the town
View of Mannum and the River Murray

The local tourist information office is at the Mannum Dock Museum. Dogs allowed in the shop! How good’s that! The ladies behind the counter were very helpful and rang Captain Max to check if a dog might be allowed of the morning paddle boat cruise on PW Mayflower. Being an officer and a gentleman, he said yes! So, we booked in. The folks got a map of the local historic walks and the names of the only two restaurants in town who allow dogs in their outdoor areas. Then it was back to the van for dinner, while sitting watching the boats on the river.

The next morning, we took off on one of the historic walks, The Shearer Walk, named after one of the early businessmen. We saw lots of old buildings and the folks read the history information off the leaflet. I don’t go for history much but love a good walk, so everyone was happy. At one point we passed a pub that used to be called The Bogan Hotel. It seems word usage has changed over the years. A few pubs might get called Bogan Hotels now but it’s never their official name and generally not complimentary!

Mural depicting the PS Marion and view of the Main street in Mannum
The main street in Mannum

Around lunchtime it started raining. We had planned a long lunch at the main pub on the river, so the timing seemed perfect. Sadly, it turned out their dog friendliness only extended to a couple of tables on the lawn. These were not very attractive in the rain! Their very large, empty verandah was a ‘no dogs allowed’ zone! Not to be deterred we walked up the hill to the other dog friendly restaurant, but it too was only dog friendly on the lawn. If it’s raining there are no dog friendly eateries in town. Luckily we had some provisions back in the van.

The next day we went on the PW Mayflower and it was pawesome. No other dogs aboard, just me, the crew and about ten paying guests. There was Captain Max, a deckhand and a purser, all volunteers. The purser served morning tea. I can vouch for the biscuits, they were excellent! Captain Max told stories about the river while he was at the wheel. He seemed to know all about the birds, aboriginal canoe trees and the history of paddle steamers. All in all, it was a great morning and certainly the highlight of our two days in Mannum.

The dry dock - part of the Mannum Museum, with the PS Marion inn the background.
The dry dock – part of the Mannum Dock Museum, with the PS Marion inn the background.
Restored shops and steam engine in the Mannum Dock Museum
Mannum Dock Museum
PS Marion moored outside the Mannum Dock Museum on the River Murray
The PS Marion is moored at the Mannum Dock Museum and can be viewed when not running cruises

Would we stay there again? I guess the answer would have to be ‘only if it wasn’t raining’!

[We later learnt that PW stands for paddle wheel, not to be confused with PS which denotes a paddle steamer. The PW Mayflower’s paddles were driven by a diesel motor, not a steam engine. The other historic vessel in town is the PS Marion, which still runs a steam engine].

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