30 Nov 2019 - 30 Nov 2021
Hell Ship - the Journey of the Ticonderoga
“Ticonderoga limped through the heads into Port Phillip. Her horrific voyage at an end, she appeared as a ghost ship...”
A Sea Voyage | A Tragedy | A Love Story
The story of the Ticonderoga delves into Michael Veitch’s love of history, but also explores the themes of family, courage and does what he loves most - shines the light on a monumental, but almost forgotten, story.
On the back of his successful tour of 'Flak', Michael Veitch has put together another one-man show, this time concerning one of the most dramatic, yet now-forgotten chapters of Australia's early maritime history.
In the spring of 1852, the clipper, Ticonderoga entered Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay after a hellish three-month voyage from Liverpool, her 800 mainly Scots Highland passengers wracked with Typhus. Nearly a quarter had perished at sea. On news of the arrival of this 'Plague Ship', the young city of Melbourne went into a panic.
Only via the tireless efforts of Ticonderoga's assistant surgeon - a young man barely out of training - were many of her passengers saved, not only onboard the ship, but later when she was ordered to offload her sick onto a makeshift hospital on the beach. This young man became the hero of the Ticonderoga story, was briefly feted, then disappeared into a quiet life as a country doctor.
With the aid of images and a soundscape composed by Michael's son Thomas Veitch, Michael tells the story of the Ticonderoga. Learn of the ship's characters as he recounts their remarkable stories of endurance and survival. Primarily though, he will be in the role of the young surgeon, now older, looking back to this most dramatic chapter of his life. Why?
That young surgeon happens to have been Veitch's great-great grandfather, James William Henry Veitch.
For Michael Veitch, this is a very personal story.
"Master story-teller Michael Veitch carries us back to early Melbourne with a personal history woven into our shared colonial past. He brings back from the dead the benighted souls who perished on the hellish journey of the Ticonderoga and the few wretches that survived. It's a poignant tale with a vividly regenerated cast of characters. Michael Veitch does it all, brilliantly and single-handedly." Max Gillies AM