Steam Communication on the Murray

South Australian Register

22 May 1852

It has been, understood for some time past, that a gentleman has been in communication with the Government on the subject of the Navigation of the Murray, and the practicability of entering at the sea mouth.

The gentleman alluded to is, we understand, Capt. Cadell of the Queen of Sheba who has made a definite proposition for carrying a steam vessel direct from the sea into the Lake, and navigating her as far as the Darling. Captain Cadell proposes to have the vessel constructed in Sydney, and to make the experiment by the 1st of October next.

The proposed vessel is to be 84 feet long with a breadth 11 feet, to be fitted with a 16-horse engine, and to be calculated for a cargo of 54 tons.

Several longitudinal sections, some of them representing models adapted for river navigation, have been constructed by Capt. Cadell and are now on view at the Exchange.

For taking a vessel into; the sea mouth of the Murray, Capt. Cadell asks a bonus of 500; for navigating the river as far as it's, junction with the Darling a further sum of 1000; and for any extra distance beyond that point a rate able addition; and 250 per Quarter besides.

Although this scheme differs in so many features, from that which was connected with the standing bonus of 2000 for each of two iron steamers; yet be pressingly important are the considerations that render the navigation of the Murray River desirable at this moment that any pecuniary cost seems to be little enough if we can thereby purchase the desired advantage.

The experience of California shows that the prosperity of a gold producing country mainly depends on the introduction of machinery for crushing and reducing the auriferous quartz, under the combined agency of large capital and systematised labour.

The companies which have been established in California for this purpose have proved highly lucrative, and a few years will probably prove the value of those predictions which assure us that the diggings will last for generations.

The late researches of that celebrated geologist, the Rev. Mr. Clarke have clearly shown that the Mitta Mitta country, which embraces the tributary streams flowing into the head of the Murray, is an auriferous quartz country, and quartz is justly described by Mr. Clarke as the matrix of the Gold deposits at Mount Alexander and the adjacent districts.

It is probable, also, that the same formations will be found extending along the banks of the river wherever the surface of the country is broken into ranges, we may therefore expect that the machinery and the produce of some of the quartz-crushing companies to be established in Victoria will ascend and descend the Murray, and by that great highway Australian Gold, along with the produce of all other industrial operations, will be conveyed easily and cheaply, preparatory to shipment to the great marts in Europe, India, and elsewhere.

The importance of pushing steam communication, as far up the river as possible will soon be made apparent. Every mile gained beyond the junction of the Darling will open to us a better country more productive fields of industry, and a greater choice of markets.

The Australian Alps present insuperable barriers which prevent trading communication with the ports on the eastern coast, and the natural outlets for all those vast regions which surround the sources of the Murray and of the Murrumbidgee must verge towards Melbourne or Adelaide, although, territorially, a large portion of country belongs to New South Wales.

Melbourne can only be reached by a tedious land journey, distressing in the heat of summer, and all but impracticable in winter.

Steam on the waters of the Murray will decide the question - the 'iron drudge' which never tires and is seldom arrested by summer heat or winter flood, will accomplish another great task by unfolding benefits and advantages immense and inestimable.