In 1852, the emigrant vessel Ticonderoga limped into Port Phillip Bay after a nightmare voyage from England in which a quarter of her nearly 800 passengers and crew had died from typhus. As its victims – Scottish families seeking a new life – were buried hastily at sea, schools of sharks, it was said, followed the stricken vessel all the way across the Indian Ocean.
When news of the ‘fever ship’ reached Melbourne, the city went into a panic. Typhus could wipe out a crowded city such as theirs – just the mention of the word filled people with dread. Special editions of the papers were printed to tell the grisly story of the ill-fated vessel to transfixed readers. Forbidden to come into port, Ticonderoga was instead forced to anchor near Portsea where her remaining passengers were either nursed back to health, or allowed to die.
In its day, the Ticonderoga was the most dramatic, most tragic true stories of our maritime history. Today however, the saga is largely forgotten as has the story of one of its heroes, the young ship’s surgeon who bravely nursed many of the sick passengers back to health. This man was performer Michael Veitch’s great-great grandfather, James William Henry Veitch.
This one-man play tells one of our great maritime stories from the wonderful writer and actor Michael Veitch. Known for his artful and tender characters and ability to transfix an audience with a sense of awe as they enter the world he so powerfully creates on stage.
November 23 – 28