A recent visit to Morgan turned into a discovery of just how important this historic town on the Murray River in South Australia was, in the peak of river trade days. One original building in particular grabs your attention as you drive into town, for its sheer size and the historic bold painted name on it. The A.H Landseer – Shipping and Forwarding Agents building has stood the test of time since being built in 1878 and the huge 30 metre long limestone structure today houses the town’s museum. It was once the biggest river trade agent on the Murray River.
The building is a short walk from the Morgan Riverside Caravan Park that sits on the edge of the river next to the ferry crossing, and in fact pretty much everything in town is within easy walking distance. At some of the businesses in town and at the museum you can pick up a pamphlet which gives you a map to take a self-guided walk around town and find more historic buildings.
Starting at the Landseer building museum will give you a great overview of the history of Morgan but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to take it all in. The museum has a vast assortment of relics inside and outside with everything from an historic farmhouse kitchen setup, telegraph exchange, horse drawn vehicles and farm equipment and of course loads of information on the river trade in the town’s heyday.
Morgan was an extremely busy trading hub on the Murray as a port for river boats that would have their cargo of mostly wool from inland Victoria and New South Wales, transferred to trains and taken to Adelaide. In its peak trading days, up to six trains per day would make the trip to and from Adelaide and gangs of up to 40 men worked over 24 hour shifts on the 168 metre long wharf.
As the era of river trade declined the port was still busy with paddle wheelers taking tourists along the Murray and linking with the train to Adelaide. Weekly trips were promoted as a holiday choice where passengers would travel from Morgan to Mildura in Victoria and return. Today just a small part of the original red gum wharf remains and there is another small museum in the original train ticket office and historic tearoom building on the waterfront and a rail yard museum behind it.
A couple of other historic buildings near the waterfront are the two hotels which were also both built in 1878. They sit on opposite street corners from each other and in the busy working days of the town one was mainly used by the business owners and the other by the workers.After exploring the town, the caravan park is in a great spot for a relaxing afternoon for all the family. You are close enough to the river for fishing, pets are welcome in the park, and the playground has a very special caravan cubby for the kids. In the evening everyone is welcome to gather around the communal fire pit provided by the park which overlooks the river and the ferry.Cheers