From the information panel just before going aboard, the Gem was built in 1876 as a barge, but a year later "was fitted with’4 40 horsepower steam engine, wood fired boilers and upper works enabling her to be employed carrying freight and passengers on the River Murray as a steamer.
In 1882, she was "cut in half using simple hand tools and the two pieces dragged apart by bullocks. A new 12 metre section was inserted in the space and an extra deck was added to allow more room for both passengers and cargo."
"In service, her lower deck was used for cargo storage; engine room, dining room and galley. Passenger accommodation was located on the middle deck, while the top deck was used for the wheelhouse and to accommodate the crew. The Gem also had a Smoking Room at the rear of the upper deck for gentlemen and a Music Room for the ladies at the front of the middle deck."