State Library of South Australia logoDownstream, the River Murray in South Australia
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Did you know? : Navigation of the Murray mouth

Navigating through the Murray Mouth posed many perils. Its shifting sands and strong currents made it changeable and unpredictable. But with the lack of efficient railway links to get cargo from the riverboats that landed at Goolwa to Adelaide, some courageous captains established regular services from Goolwa to Port Adelaide. Pioneer of the riverboat trade, Francis Cadell, ran several boats through the Murray Mouth from 1857. Another well-known riverboat captain, George Johnston, successfully took a number of boats through the Mouth. Johnston had some of his boats designed and built in Scotland specifically for trade through the Murray Mouth. In 1878, Johnston began a regular mail run between Port Adelaide and Goolwa with his boat the Queen of the South. That year she passed through the Mouth at least 70 times. However, 1878 saw the establishment of the railway from Morgan to Adelaide, which eventually decreased the riverboat traffic to Goolwa and made taking the treacherous trip through the Murray Mouth unnecessary.

Captain Francis Cadell
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George Bain Johnston
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