The Tale of 1606

The Tale of 1606

The Tale of 1606


You might say this blog has been years in the making. Call it fear, being incredibly time poor or just plain convincing myself I actually have something worth documenting, I've never been able to force myself to sit down and start typing.  

After eleven years running a business on the beautiful island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, I feel like I have an accumulation of unique firsthand accounts and experiences worth sharing.

I’m certain with this blog I will fall into the unavoidable traps of a westerner living and working on a tropical island. I’ll describe the first time I saw the white sand of stunning Port Orly, recollect some of the gracious acts of the beautiful Melanesian people, and talk about witnessing rare ancient traditions and hunting down amazing blue holes off the trodden tourist trails.  

But let's start by going back to the year 1606 and what occurred on the Northern shores of Santo, in an area called Big Bay.  

Firstly, I’m not claiming to be an historian, far from it, I have a fairly rudimentary understanding of the history of Vanuatu and its inhabitants. What I do have is a keen interest in piecing together this island's mysteries and historical significance, a journey that begun for me the day I arrived here.


Arrival of an early explorer the year 1606 to Santo’s Big Bay Coast


Our main man at the helm of this adventure was a Portuguese Navigator Pedro Fernández de Quirós and his fleet of three ships.

Sent by the king of Spain on a mission to discover “The Great South Lands” and     stake his claim for the king and Catholic Church.

Sailing off from Callao in Peru on the 21st December 1605 the fleet moored off the shores of Big Bay in May 1606 believing this to be “The Great South Lands”.  

Taking ashore his priests De Quiros declared all land south in the name of the King of Spain and the Catholic Church.

Naming this vast land mass “La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo” Australia land of the Holy Spirit. Imagine that! Vanuatu, Australia and all the way down to the South Pole could have been a Spanish territory’s.

The name "Australia" was used by his translator in 1625 and later endorsed by Matthew Flinders as the name of the biggest land mass in the region, despite the fact that Fernandez applied it to all the Islands and lands as far as the South Pole.

There is a belief that on the shores of Big Bay Australia was named.  

Every year in May the Village at Big Bay perform the re-enactment of De Quiros’s Landing.

Posted by De santo Resort Support on February 01, 2020