22 & 23 March
QUT Gardens Theatre, Brisbane City
Renowned writer, historian and performer Michael Veitch brings his one-man show Hell Ship to Gardens Theatre, telling the true story of one of the most dramatic, yet now forgotten chapters of Australia’s early maritime history.
Hell Ship is the tale of hardship and heroism, survival and love following the three-month voyage of the emigrant clipper Ticonderoga from Liverpool to Port Phillip Bay in 1852. By the time the ship reached Australia, with mainly Highland Scots emigrants on board, the Ticonderoga was a floating catastrophe. Shortly after crossing the equator, typhus erupted throughout her decks, and within weeks almost 100 voyagers had perished and were buried at sea, with schools of sharks stalking the Ticonderoga across the ocean. Forbidden to enter Melbourne, the Ticonderoga was made to offload her desperate human cargo onto a small beach inside the heads at Port Phillip Bay, where for six weeks a makeshift quarantine hospital was established, when then endured for more than a century.
Thoroughly researched by Michael Veitch, this is mainly the story of two people: Annie Morrison, a young Scots nurse, and Ticonderoga’s official surgeon, James William Henry Veitch, and their tireless efforts in saving lives. These two historical figures went on to marry, becoming Michael Veitch’s great-great grandparents. Hell Ship‘s soundtrack is also arranged and performed live by Michael’s son, Thomas Veitch.
Having premiered right where the story took place at the Point Nepean Quarantine Station, Hell Ship and its associated book, both written by Michael Veitch, have tapped into many Australian families’ enduring fascination with their own heritage, hidden family stories and maritime history.