The paddle steamer trade on the Murray River was at its height in the 1870s and 80s, carrying wool from the pastoral stations to the river ports at Echuca in Victoria and Goolwa in South Australia and delivering goods to the stations and towns. This is the setting for the cosy historical mystery I am presently polishing – in its second edit.

I grew up on the Murray – on the New South Wales side – in an irrigation settlement called Koraleigh, some 17 miles upriver from Swan Hill, where we grew oranges, and grapes for sultanas. My grandfather and his father and some other of his family members were involved in the paddle steamer trade for many years.  There is mention in the customs register at Mildura of my great grandfather William Bennett as captain of the steamer  Sapphire in 1897. My grandmother told a story from the late 1910s of my grandfather, when he was her fiancé, running the family steamer onto a sand bank one night and being teased because he must have had eyes for her rather than for the river. Of course, she claimed she was asleep at the time and nowhere near the wheelhouse.

There will be maps and a plan or two and some photos of the river added to this website to accompany the journey my book takes.

Visit my Pinterest board ‘Murray River, Australia’ for more images of the river and the mallee country, and my Facebook page Irene Sauman-Writer Historian for updates.

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