Walk of the Month: Randell Walk, Mannum

Graham Hallandal invites you to explore an historic river town, and get fit while you're doing it.

This post was contributed by Graham Hallandal.

The featured walk for this month is one of three historic trails around Mannum township.

This walk will get the heart and breathing rate up.

It won’t be a problem for regular walkers and those with good fitness levels, but a warning: it does have some steep sections, both up and down.

Allow about 90 minutes for the walk of about 2.5 kilometres.

Major items of interest on this walk are the Randell family homes, German heritage and religion, panoramic views of the river and wetlands, and the lifestyle of the Nganguraku people prior to white settlement.

The walk recognizes William Richard Randell, who was born in 1824 in Devon, England and arrived in South Australia in 1837.

With the assistance of his brothers, in 1853 he constructed the first paddle steamer, named Mary Ann after his mother, to operate on the Murray River.

Travelling upstream into Victoria and New South Wales, Captain Randell helped establish trade between the states using the river to access previously hard-to-reach locations.

He represented the electoral district of Gumeracha in the South Australian House of  Assembly from 1893 to 1899.

He died in 1911, aged 86, and is buried in the Gumeracha Salem Baptist Church Cemetery.

The trail is marked with yellow markers, but I suggest you take with you a copy of the walk description.

Yellow trail markers do not appear to exist in several locations but by following the description below and identifying street names you should have no problems.

The start of the Randell Walk is at the Mannum Visitor Information Centre on Randell Street.

There is usually ample car parking in this area of Mannum, adjacent to the dry dock or in Randell Street.

Cross the street to the Woolshed.

Built by Randell in 1854 to store freight to be transported on his fleet of steamers, the Woolshed was later used as a customs house and housed Scot’s Engineering Company. 

From the Woolshed, walk up McLaren Street to the gate of Frank Randell’s house, halfway up on the right.

Frank Randell brought the land for this house from his brother William in 1872.

In later years he rented it out; one notable tenant was Mannum’s first doctor, Albert Doepke, in 1873.

The Scott family brought the property in 1907.

Looking across to your left, part of William Randell’s Bleak House can be seen.

Walk to the T-junction on McLaren Street and observe Thomas Randell’s house across the road.

Thomas, brother to William and Frank, opened a store in a lean-to on the Woolshed.

When he was flooded out, he added two rooms to his home and used them as a bakery and general store.

He bought leeches from the Aboriginal community to sell to doctors and moved to the main street about 1863. 

Walk to the right and cross to the old manse.

The original Lutheran church, also used as a school, was built in 1882 and the manse in 1896, and was enlarged in 1923.

Visible in this photo from 1913 are the manse, bottom left, which still stands; and the old church, top right, which was demolished decades ago. Photo: State Library of South Australia (B-52886).

During the 1930s the present church replaced the old.

When major rebuilding was done in 1968 a new manse was built, but the original escaped the bulldozer.

The first of several information signs is located here.

Walk up to the steep asphalt track to the left of the manse.

This path is known as the Goat Track.

It is one of the oldest roads in Mannum, servicing Tom Randell’s store and continuing down to the Woolshed.

It also led to the market and so was a stock track for many years.

It was bituminised for the first time in 2006.

Continue up Wanke Road and turn right into Crawford Crescent.

From parts of this road you can see the southern Mount Lofty Ranges to the west, and the River Murray valley and floodplains to the east.

The walkway to the right will take you down to Purnong Road, through you may wish to continue to the lookout first to enjoy the panoramic views.

This diversion is well worth adding with its panoramic views over the Murray River and wetlands sanctuary.

Backtrack to the walkway.

Please note that the walkway is graded “difficult”; the track surface is excellent, however, in sections it appears to exceed a gradient more than 1:10, a grade three classified trail.

Cross Purnong Road to the Lions Park and walk towards the town.

To your left you will see a sign to a boardwalk which will enable you to view the many water birds.

You are in the Herman L Gass Bird Sanctuary.

Gass was the manager of the Mannum Club for many years, and on his retirement to Purnong Road would feed the pelicans.

The sanctuary was named after him, and he was its first warden.

Across the road, observe the older houses, built when William R Randell subdivided the land.

Pass the fence around the caravan park and notice the old pump house inside the fence.

Now used as a backpacker’s hostel, this once housed a Crossley suction gas plant, an engine of 75 brake horsepower and a Worthington six-inch three-stage centrifugal pump.

It was opened in 1912. 

Cross the entrance to the ferries.

There was probably a punt operating before 1877, but in that year a ferry was run by the Crown Lands Department.

Fees were charged, and clients were expected to help propel it along.

Pass the dry dock on your left.

First used in 1876, the dock was brought to Mannum by Captain William Randell, towed from Milang behind a paddle steamer.

He reported it “moved like a snake” on the journey. 

Complete your walk at the visitor information centre.

This building was a garage for most of its life but was remodelled as a visitor information centre and museum in 2001.

Previous walks of the month

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