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Early European Exploration, Portuguese and Spanish Sailings
Luis Vaez, Australian continent, prevailing winds, eastern Australia, trade route
In the 15th century Portugalís navigation around Africa in pursuit of a trade route to India rekindled European interest in the region. Historians have long speculated that the Portuguese may have reached eastern Australia, but the evidence, mainly 16th-century French copies of Portuguese charts, is tenuous. The continent lay off the main trading routes, and the prevailing winds made it difficult to approach.
In the 16th and early 17th centuries, Spain, having established its empire in South and Central America, began a series of expeditions from Peru to the South Pacific. The most notable of these, by Luis Vaez de Torres in 1606, passed within sight of the Australian continent along the strait that now bears his name, between New Guinea and Australia. But Spanish interests were farther north in the Philippines, and the voyagers did not return.
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