Terra Australis Incognita
The Spanish Quest for the mysterious Great South Land
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In October 1606, the great Spanish navigator Luis B ez de Torres took two vessels through the waters that divide the land masses of New Guinea and Australia. In a journey of great adventure, courage and hardship, he was the first European to sail through today's Torres Strait and very possibly the first European to sight the east coast of Australia.
Terra Australis Incognita focuses new light on the Spanish voyages of discovery that sailed from South America into the unknown south western Pacific in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Crossing the planet's largest ocean in small wooden ships with rudimentary navigation, these Spanish conquistadors were in search of the legendary Great South Land first imagined by the ancient Greeks.
This is a story of passionate beliefs, of high hopes and catastrophic failures, of attempted colonies that ended in death and disaster, of violent confrontations and tentative friendship with indigenous people, of a fierce clash of cultures, and relentless ambition in search of the gold of King Solomon's Ophir. It is also the story of the visionary adventurer Quir s who planned a New Jerusalem in today's Vanuatu, the ruthless woman governor Dona Isabel, the Solomon Islander chief Bilebanarra who was a friend of the Spaniards and, of course, the great leader of men Luis B ez de Torres.
Terra Australis Incognita is a thoroughly researched, lucidly written and unique narrative on the little known history of the great Spanish explorations of the Pacific Ocean.
- Allen & Unwin, October 2006
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