Mannum is a historic town on the west bank of the Murray River in South Australia, 84 kilometres (52 mi) east of Adelaide. The first settlement in the area was in 1840. The first ship (a side-wheel paddle steamer) built on the Murray River was launched at Mannum by William Randell in 1852. A shipbuilding industry continued in Mannum until into the 20th century. A number of other manufacturing industries were established in the town, and some continue, although not as large as they once were. The largest heavy manufacturing was John Shearer (later Horwood-Bagshaw) who made farm equipment.
Mannum’s significance as a river port declined with the railways reaching Morgan in 1878 and Murray Bridge in 1886. The largest ship operating on the Murray is the Murray Princess, a passenger stern-wheel paddle boat based at Mannum offering weekly cruises. The restored historic paddle steamer PS Marion is also based at Mannum and cruises several times a year. Before restoration, it was a static display in a drydock for many years.Mannum is also a base for houseboats available for hire.
In 1954, the Mannum-Adelaide pipeline was built to help provide the city with a reliable water supply. Mannum is in the Mid Murray Council, the state electorate of Schubert and the federal Division of Barker.
In Late 2005, The Mannum Sawmills closed its business to make way for a future shopping mall. The Business was owned and operated by the Schache with 3 generations of employees, Oswald Schache, Murray Schache, Victor Schache, David Schache and Wesley Schache. The Schache Family were well known in the town because of the business. They own the local Bakery, help in the making of the local bowling club and Wesley played Football for the local team “Mannum Roos”.
William Randell is memorialised by the preservation of the boiler of his Paddle Wheeler Mary Ann in the town’s recreation park. His dry dock today holds the Marion, an 1897 built paddle wheeler, managed by the National Trust of Australia as a museum. The Marion left active service in 1950 and spent until 1963 as a boarding house.