25 March 1853 The Randell brothers and the Mary Ann
On 25 March 1853 the Randell brothers in their boat the Mary Ann began the first cargo trip up the Murray River in a steam powered vessel.
The Randells built their boat at Noa-No a few miles upstream from where Mannum now stands. The timber vessel was 55 feet long with a nine foot beam, displaced 20 tons, and had an eight horsepower boiler which apparently was built by a local blacksmith, and which rather disconcertingly breathed in and out 'like a concertina'.
The Randells made a trial trip on 19 February using sails to help the boat along. Then, with the first load of cargo aboard, the Randells ran into trouble with officialdom.
At the time South Australia had its own customs duties and the only place to clear their cargo was Goolwa which meant the Randells had to travel down river 90 miles to Goolwa before they could begin their delivery run up river. Because they set out at the low water season in a bad year they struck trouble with sandbars and shallow shoals nearly all the way and in the end had to turn back some 125 miles up stream from their original starting point at Noa-No.
Ian Mudie, Riverboats, Rigby, 1961, pp. 16-19