The River Murray was first discovered by Hume and Hovell, who reached it at a point above Albury in 1824. Hovell named it the Hume after Hume's father, but when Captain Sturt made his voyage to the Murray mouth in 1830, near present day Goolwa, he named it the Murray, after the then Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Ever since Charles Sturt's seventy-seven day trip down Australia's greatest river in 1829—1830, the river has been of utmost importance to South Australia. Early attempts to navigate the river were dangerous and unsuccessful until 1852 when the government offered a bonus of $8,000 for the first paddlesteamer to reach Echuca. This was achieved by both William Randell and Francis Cadell.
It was at this time that river trading was established, providing many thousands of new jobs and creating new settlements and industries along the entire length of the river Murray system.
You can learn more about the stories that have shaped the Murray River, Lakes & Coorong region at the Mannum Dock Museum of River History.
The original Coonalpyn Primary School was built in 1889, 20 years before the township of Coonalpyn was proclaimed. The school was located approximately three kilometres south-east the town along the Dukes Highway. In 1928 the school moved to its current location on Coombe Terrace, west of Coonalpyn.
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