The Marion Sleigh

The Marion Sleigh bringing supplies to remote Gulf communities. (Photo: Mataranka Museum)

A ship like this steaming up Gulf rivers would raise a few eyebrows these days, but in the early 1900s the Marion Sleigh was a regular sight carrying supplies as far up as the Roper River Bar, and Borroloola on the Macarthur. The Marion Sleigh was of 506 tons burden, had a number of cabins for passengers, and often carried Darwinites who wanted a taste of adventure.

On one trip in 1926, a troupe of young ladies on a pleasure trip were forced to endure ten days stuck on a Macarthur River sandbar, followed by serious engine trouble, and finally a storm near Groote Eylandt that saw the Marion Sleigh almost founder several times.

The Marion Sleigh was sold in 1932, her engines converted to diesel, and she spent her final years in New Zealand waters.

Written and researched by Greg Barron

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