From those of you who don’t know, Eden is a fishing and former whaling town way down the south east coast of New South Wales and the last settlement of any size before you ‘turn the corner’ at Green Cape and head along the south coast of the continent.
However, this morning we have news of a possible sixteenth century Portuguese wine jar having been dredged up off the coast by a trawler off Eden. The report’s slightly more tantalising with reports of other ceramics being dredged up, which may suggest a wreck.
If it was Spanish, we could wave our hands and say that it was from a Manila galleon blown badly off course on the route between the Phillipines and Mexico (Baja California) or possibly some undocumented voyage akin to Sarmiento de Gamboa’s voyage to the Solomon Islands.
If it’s Portuguese, it speaks of a slightly more determined interest in exploring the east coast of Australia, for the simple reason that the Portuguese sailed to the Spice Islands via the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean, much as the Dutch and British East India Companies did in the following century, ie they must have deliberately set off from their base in Timor to explore the east coast of Australia …
[update 18 March 2015]
More handwaving here, but Pedro Fernando de Querios, who sailed with Sarmiento de Gamboa to the Solomon Islands also led a later expedition in 1605 that included the discovery of Espiritu Santo in what is now Vanuatu. de Querios was Portuguese in origin – which is nothing remarkable, Spain and Portugal were intertwined and many Portuguese served as navigators with Spanish ships.
Interestingly, after leaving Espiritu Santo de Querios’s ship became separated from the others due to bad weather – after looking unsuccessfully for him, the other ships, under the command of Luis Vaz de Torres, he for whom the Torres strait is named, sailed north to Manila, charting the south coast of PNG along the way.
de Querios (and his ship) eventually turned up in Acapulco. He later bombarded the Spanish king with demands for funds to look for a great south land. One could conjecture that perhaps after leaving Espiritu Santo, de Querios was blown south and sailed down the coast of Australia before setting off for Acapulco, and that the Eden wine jar is one of his empties.
Or perhaps not …