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Hell Ship

Narrated by: Michael Veitch
Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: History, European
4.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The riveting story of one of the most calamitous voyages in Australian history, the plague-stricken sailing ship Ticonderoga that left England for Victoria with 800 doomed emigrants on board.  

For more than a century and a half, a grim tale has passed down through Michael Veitch’s family: the story of the Ticonderoga, a clipper ship that sailed from Liverpool in August 1852, crammed with poor but hopeful emigrants - mostly Scottish victims of the Clearances and the potato famine. A better life, they believed, awaited them in Australia.  

Three months later, a ghost ship crept into Port Phillip Bay flying the dreaded yellow flag of contagion. On her horrific three-month voyage, deadly typhus had erupted, killing a quarter of Ticonderoga’s passengers and leaving many more desperately ill. Sharks, it was said, had followed her passage, as the victims were buried at sea.   

Panic struck Melbourne. Forbidden to dock at the gold-boom town, the ship was directed to a lonely beach on the far tip of the Mornington Peninsula, a place now called Ticonderoga Bay.   

James William Henry Veitch was the ship’s assistant surgeon, on his first appointment at sea. Among the volunteers who helped him tend to the sick and dying was a young woman from the island of Mull, Annie Morrison. What happened between them on that terrible voyage is a testament to human resilience and to love.    

Michael Veitch is their great-great-grandson, and Hell Ship is his brilliantly researched narrative of one of the biggest stories of its day, now all but forgotten. Broader than his own family’s story, it brings to life the hardships and horrors endured by those who came by sea to seek a new life in Australia.

©2018 Michael Veitch (P)2018 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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Profile Image for Retired
  • Retired
  • 11-04-18

Thought provoking.

Informative, well written and read. The never ending story of the journey for a better life and the difficulties faced. I really enjoyed this audio book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Frankzippa
  • 06-02-19

A lesson in research and story telling

A well told incredible story and history lesson researched in the finest detail more than just the story of the ships journey.

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 01-15-19

A harrowing true story from Scotland and Australia’s past.

The author narrates the voyage of his great-grandparents to Australia. The mid 19th century saw large numbers of Irish and Scots displaced from their ancestral lands, or driven by economic necessity to seek a new, very different life far from home. Ironically, sheep-farming, which had replaced humans in the Highlands, required new manpower in Australia, preferably family men who wouldn’t dart off in search of gold at Ballarat. So the powers-that-be organised population transfer to the other end of the earth for thousands. Veitch’s great grandfather was one of the two doctors on the nightmare voyage of the Ticonderoga, and his great grandmother a passenger.
Conditions on board were better than on a slave ship, but far from good enough to prevent the spread of disease on a nonstop journey from Birkenhead to Port Phillip. Most passengers were Scots, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that the English passengers got the best quarters, and the few Irish the worst!!
Even when the clipper reached Australia, the horror was not over; the yellow jack of quarantine was flying, so that disembarkment was not immediate. In spite of their tragic arrival, many survivors did establish a new life, and their descendants are numerous.
In the UK, history tends to have focused on emigration to North America, and I was glad to hear of this lesser known migration.