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Emigrant: The Ship of Death by Jane Smith

February 12, 2020 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

The Emigrant sailed into Moreton Bay in August 1850 after four terrible months at sea. It was the second government-assisted immigrant ship to come directly to Moreton Bay, in a scheme that aimed to boost the growth of free Brisbane and remove the stains of its convict past. Some 276 poor settlers from England and Ireland boarded the ship in Plymouth, hoping to build a better life in Australia. Typhus and other maladies killed around twenty on the voyage, and the ship was therefore diverted on arrival to the newly proclaimed quarantine station at Dunwich. Conditions on the island were appalling; dilapidated buildings remaining from convict days and leaky tents provided the only shelter. A hellish three-month quarantine followed, during which two of the three doctors and twenty-six immigrants died, including a young woman who committed suicide and a boy who perished in a fire.\

Jane Smith’s book Ship of Death and her  website tell these stories against the backdrop of early Queensland history: a time when a government-sponsored immigration boom was shaping Australian society. In her  address to the RHSQ she would like to share some of my findings. Jane Smith pays tribute to the doctors, the captain and the passengers, describes the ghastly conditions of the voyage and quarantine, and reveals the fate of some of the Emigrant’s more colourful characters, bringing to life a journey that was common to many of Australia’s early settlers.

Jane Smith is a Toowoomba librarian, author, freelance editor and former physiotherapist who enjoys researching and writing about history – fiction and non-fiction, for children and for adults. Jane has written a series of five children’s non-fiction books about bushrangers, a biography of Captain Starlight (for adults) and the first eight episodes of the children’s historical fiction series, ‘Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy’ – all published by Big Sky Publishing.

Wednesday Talks are free, lunch afterwards $5.


February 12, 2020
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


The Royal Historical Society of Queensland


Commissariat Store Museum
115 William St
Brisbane, 4000 Australia
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