Paddle Steamer History

After European explorers like Charles Sturt investigated the area, pastoralists soon followed. The river was soon busy with paddle steamers carrying wool, timber, dried fruit and livestock along the Darling River system. These travelled as far North as Walgett resulting in a very interesting heritage for Walgett.

The first paddle steamer to reach Walgett was the Gemini under Captain William Randell in 1861. He pioneered this form of travel on the Murray River and following this he navigated the Darling and Barwon Rivers. Although most of the provisions were sold on the way up the river, the poorly supplied Walgett townspeople were quick to purchase the remaining supplies. Paddle Steamers could only run where there were high river flows. In times of drought they were tied up along the river for a period of years. They ceased to run during 1910; today the river is barely navigable for long stretches. Trees have fallen into it and soil erosion has caused damage - along with human activity on the land over the last two centuries.

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