Did Spanish Discover us in 1558

Post Special/By Rex Gilroy

Well Known Investigator of Strange Phenomenon

Australasian Post, December 31, 1988

Did Spain Discover us in 1558

Spanish adventurers tried to colonise the east coast of Australia 212 years before Captain James Cook stepped ashore at Botany Bay in 1770. I believe this following the discovery of a hitherto unknown Spanish expedition to the north of Sydney near Gosford, at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. In September 1985 I was exploring dense scrub above the river west of Gosford when I discovered some faded images which turned out to be of early European origin.

Their similarity to the Botany Bay Spanish Latin inscription or "doodles" discovered by Lawrence Hargrave in 1912 soon became obvious. The Botany Bay carvings were a type of Latin "shorthand" common in Spain between the 15th and 17th centuries, beneath which was the letter "W" beside a cross within an elongated circle.

The shorthand "B.A.L.N" and "Z.A.I.H" were translated to read:

"We in the Santa Barbara and Santa Isabel claim this land from point to point by the sign of the Cross."

Hargraves calculated the "doodles" were carved in 1595 by members of the second Pacific expedition of Alvaro de Mendana-175 years before Captain Cook sailed into the same bay. The Hawkesbury rock inscriptions were outliners of three vessels and letterings encircling a central human figure and three more letters, a cross, and the date in archaic numbers "1558"-37 years before the Botany Nay carvings.

The topmost ship outline resembles that of a Carrack; the ship to the left resembles that of a Carravel; and the ship to the right a Galleon. The central human figure is capped with a helmet reminiscent of the Morrion, as worn by the conquistadores during their conquest of Mexico. Above this figure are the letters "c.S.g." Above the "S" is a cross, and above this and slightly to the left, the date "1558".

The translation is believed to read:

"We in the Almiranta, the Capitana and Concepcion, with colonists and soldiers claim this land for Holy Spain by the sign of the Cross, 1558."

Near the inscriptions are Aboriginal engravings of men in strange hats, shirts and trousers with belts; and female figures in dresses-at least 400 years old, which would link them to the age of European letterings. Further upriver is the Colo area, where an ancient Spanish Morrion soldier's helmet was found by a bushman 40 years ago. But who were the colonists?

Names such as Almiranta and Capitana were commonplace in Spanish shipping of that period, and stood for "Admiral" and "Captain". Perhaps the colonisation attempt could have followed the expedition of Inigo Ortiz de Retes, who in 1545 sailed along and mapped the northern coast of New Guinea for about 700 miles. On his chart de Retes wrote that he believed New guinea was probably part of the "great southern continent". It took Luis Baez de Torres {1606} to sail through the strait now bearing his name to disprove this belief.