Pedro Fernandez de Quiros & Louis Vaez de TorresPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Peter Reynders

A bust commemorates the explorers Pedro Fernandez De Quiros and Louis Vaez De Torres.

Pedro Fernandez de Quiros (1563?-1615), was born at Evora, Portugal, but became subject to the King of Spain when the two countries were dynastically united in 1580. Quiros is the Spanish form of the name.  He was recognized as a competent and experienced navigator when in 1595 he was appointed chief pilot of an expedition of four ships under Alvaro de Mendaña setting out to colonize the Solomon Islands. 

Quiros had invented two instruments to aid navigation, both highly praised by distinguished mathematicians, one to ascertain the variation of the declination of the compass needle to the NE. and NW., and the other to determine latitude, and his Treatise on Navigation, first written as a letter to the king in 1602, showed a marked knowledge of the theory and practice of navigation.

In March 1603, Quiros was authorized to undertake another voyage to convert the heathen and extend the Spanish dominions. He was delayed by being shipwrecked in the West Indies but reached Callao on 6 March 1605. In December he set out into the Pacific, intending to sail to latitude 30°S., then to criss-cross the Pacific between 10°-20°S. until he reached Santa Cruz, whence he would sail SW. to 20°S. and then NW., with the object of discovering a 'mainland' which he was sure existed 1000 leagues from Peru near the Marquesas Islands.

However, when he first reached latitude 26°S. he changed his plan, and sailed WNW. and W., and then NW., missing the Marquesas but discovering the Duff group and the Banks group, before reaching the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) or what he called "Austrialia del Espiritu Santo" on 3 May 1606. There, in 'a land more delightful, healthy and fertile' than any that could be found, he proposed to form a colony to be called New Jerusalem, with its capital Vera Cruz, but after a few weeks his ship, when returning for the second time because of contrary winds from attempted exploration to the south-east, was driven out to sea. Instead of trying to return his ship sailed for Mexico, possibly when the discontented among the crew seized an opportunity created by their captain's ill health. The second ship, with the pilot Louis Vaez de Torres was left behind.

Luis Vaez de Torres was a Spanish subject, but nothing is known of his birth or early life. He must have been an experienced navigator when in 1605 he was given command of the San Pedro, 40 tons, the second in size of three vessels with which Pedro Fernandez de Quiros set out from Callao, Peru, on 21 December in search of the supposed southern continent.

Quiros placed great reliance on Torres, and when they reached an island usually sent him ashore in command of the landing party. Torres protested when, in mid-Pacific, Quiros altered course from WSW., which might have taken them to south-eastern Australia, to WNW., which did take them to Espiritu Santo (New Hebrides) on 1 May 1606.

Before the end of the month Quiros decided to abandon Espiritu Santo and sail onward. In bad weather Quiros was driven out of the bay, and when Torres failed to find him, he opened his sealed orders, which ordained that Quiros's second-in-command, Don Diego de Prado, was to take command, and that he was to search for land as far as 20°S. but, if none was found, to sail to Manila. Prado seems to have allowed Torres to exert actual command, and Torres wrote that he was determined to carry out the viceroy's orders.   

In company with the small Los Tres Reyes,, the third vessel, he went south to 21°, found no land (he was then west of New Caledonia and about 493 kilometres from the coast of Australia and, failing to reach the east coast of New Guinea, coasted closely along its south side, and sailed through Torres Strait, thus discovering that New Guinea was not the northern peninsula of a southern continent. For more than two months the Spaniards sailed along the coast of New Guinea which they claimed for Philip III, fought with the natives, and captured some.

On 22 May 1607 Torres reached Manila, where he disappears from history. The report of his voyage seems to have been filed and forgotten, and knowledge of it was not recovered until the British occupied Manila in 1762.



Address:John McEwen Crescent, Barton, 2600
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.310331
Long: 149.131446
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 12th October, 2006
Front Inscription

                                    EMBASSY OF SPAIN
                                   12 OCTOBER 2006

Plaque :

This gift from the Government of
Spain to the Australian Government
was unveiled by
the Spanish Ambassador,
His Excellency Antonio Cosaro
and the Minister for Local
Government, Territories and Roads
the Hon. Jim Lloyd M.P.

12 October 2006

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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