About the NGV
National Gallery of Victoria

Exiles and Emigrants
Education Resource


The Journey

During their four month journey to Australia emigrants experienced varied conditions on board the sailing ships. Sweltering tropical heat and bitter cold, overcrowding and a lack of proper food and water led to debilitating diseases which led to high death rates. These ships were nicknamed “coffin ships”. For a time, surgeons were paid more if emigrants arrived alive, encouraging better health standards. As the century progressed conditions improved, and engines were added to sailing ships which helped reduce the length of the journey.





NGV: Art like never before