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Cracker of a show will relive Three Bees sinking

Cracker of a show will relive Three Bees sinking

BLAME it on the cabin boy. A foolish error from 200 years ago will be brought back to life this winter in a spectacular display which is set to rival the New Year's Eve fireworks.

The sinking of the convict ship Three Bees, which caught fire and exploded with its cannons blazing in Sydney Harbour in 1814, will be recreated near The Rocks on June 12, 13, and 14.

It is a lost part of Sydney's history which will be remembered as part of the music and light extravaganza Vivid Festival.

The ship had arrived with 210 male convicts from Ireland aboard just days before a careless cabin boy apparently left a candle burning in the hold.

While the prisoners, many who were suffering from scurvy, had already gone ashore, the captain and crew - mindful of the 30 casks of gunpowder aboard - were forced to abandon ship.

When it was cast adrift it's 14 fully loaded guns caught fire and discharged at random across the town. Nobody was injured but customs officer Captain John Piper's writing desk was destroyed when a cannonball flew through the window of his George St office.

Panic spread across the colony.

The ship drifted and sank off Bennelong Point, where the Opera House now stands.

Fire-Water creative director Michael Cohen wanted to design a spectacle involving fire and asked the Sydney Harbour Foreshore's Authority archaeologist Wayne Johnson for inspiration four months ago. "It's interesting to do things connected to history in a new way," Cohen said.

Coralie Hird, from Cromer, is a descendant of Three Bees convict Jeremiah Sullivan and said she would love to take her children and grandchildren to the event.

"I think it's wonderful", the 72-year-old said. "If they can actually see it, it might bring it (the history) home a bit more."

Events NSW is today expected to make another major announcement about the Vivid Festival, which will run from May 26 to June 14.

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