In 1852, the emigrant vessel Ticonderoga limped into Port Phillip Bay after a nightmare voyage from England in which a quarter of 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, 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 Michael Veitch’s great-great grandfather, James William Henry Veitch.
So aside form the LOLs, writing and broadcasting, Veitch's heart has always been in his passion for stories of our shared history. You can check out more about his prolific career here.
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