Many are the ties between Australia and the Hispanic world. We could start by naming a few to bring both histories and cultures closer:
The Spanish set off from the American Pacific coast towards the South Seas in search of Terra Australis, which was believed to be in those latitudes. The Spanish were the second sailors, after the Portuguese, to navigate waters close to Australia and to land in the nearby islands. In 1605 the explorers Quirós and Torres sailed through the Torres Straight that carries his name.
In 1792 news arrived in Chile of Port Jackson in Sydney on board of the frigate Mary Anne. At that time in history there were many encounters at sea between English fleets from Sydney and Spanish
fleets. In an ocean with increasing corsair activity, the coasts of Chile played a crucial role. Sydney
gained importance as a whaling port and as strategic place to equip ships sailing into the Pacific.
The visit by two Spanish ships, commanded by the Italian born Alexandro Malaspina, to Botany Bay in 1793 can be classified as historic, political and cultural event. According to historians and botanists, the “Malaspina Expedition” is a source of valuable information, hardly acknowledged until now relating to Australia and New Zealand.
Spain saw the arrival of large numbers of English troops to fight the Guerra de la Independencia Española (Spanish War of Independence) – or, as the English call it, the Peninsular War – against Napoleon. In 1817, after the war was over, numerous former soldiers set sail for Australia to start a new life. To name a few: Captain Allman (founder of Port Macquarie), Major Morisset (one of the founders of Newcastle), Lieutenant E.C. Close, Edmund Lockyer (explorer of the Brisbane river), John Wvens (architect of the central part of the Supreme Court building in Sydney), Thomas Livingstone, and William Light. Some of these soldiers married Spanish women bringing with them their families and memories.
The Australian Gold Rush (gold was discovered in 1823 but it wasn’t until the 1850s that gold fever really took hold) started an intense traffic in the Pacific. The commerce between Australia and Latin American countries, especially with Chile, increased considerably. New markets and products flourished. Spanish and Latin American immigration to Australia started with the contribution of much Hispanic labour to the gold and mine fields.
In 1846, the Spanish monks founded the mission of New Norcia in West Australia. This monastery is part of the Australian artistic and cultural heritage for its architecture and works of art, as well as its contribution to the national music.
In 1867, the third Prime Minister of Australia and first of the Labour Party, John Christian Watson, was born in Chile.
In 1951, the first transpacific flight took place between Australia and Chile. Sydney-Valparaiso, Valparaiso-Brisbane. An Australian PBY Catalina made the first trans-Pacific flight across the South Pacific between Australia and Chile in 1951, by (Sir) Gordon Taylor, making numerous stops at islands along the way for refueling, meals, and overnight sleep of its crew, via Tahiti and Easter Island. Taylor consequently awarded the Oswald Watt Gold Medal.
Flora and fauna
Vineyards, Barilla, Merino Sheep, Andalusian Horses, Poinsettia flower from Mexico, Llamas and Alpacas from the Andes.
We can find many Australian artists inspired by the Hispanic world:
- Sir Lionel Lindsay
- James McAuley
- Paul McGuire
- Gordon Keny (opera)
- Peter Sculthorpe (opera)
- Vincenzo Cincotta
- John Griffiths
- Michael Noone
- Peter Sculthorpe
Thanks to guitarists such as Narciso Yepes and Andrés Segovia, classical guitars began to be made in Australia in the 1950s.
- Frank Hodgkinson
- Max Meldrum
- John Olsen
- Tom Roberts
- Conrad Martens
- Leslie Wilkinson
- John Cyril Hawes
- Walter Burley Griffin for the design of Canberra
- Jon Utzon for the Sydney Opera House took inspiration from Mayan pyramids