Home > Torres Map

Torres Map


On 11.2.1970 Papua New Guinea, in the National Heritage issue, included a 25c stamp depicting a Portuguese Map of the 17th Century.


The map shown in this stamp was drawn by a Portuguese cosmopolitan, Manuoel Godhino de Eredia, to show the course of the Spanish navigator Luis Vaez de Torres in 1606. New Guinea was named by a Spaniard, de Retez in 1545, who saw in its coast a resemblance to the Guinea coast of Africa. Later in the century other Spanish explorers from Peru sought the fabled unknown continent of the South Seas, and in 1605 Pedro de Quiros led an expedition seeking Terra Australis. He believed he had found it when he discovered the land Australia del Espiritu Santo, a large island in the New Hebrides Group. De Quiros returned to Mexico but his chief Lieutenant, Luis Vaez de Torres made for Manila. On this voyage Torres passed through a strait now named for him and skirted the southern shores of New Guinea, proving it to be an island and not part of the still unsighted Southern Continent of Australia.

Alexander Dalrymple, an hydrographer, was a correspondent of de Brosses and the great French cartographers. In Madras he saw a Spanish manuscript account of the Voyage of Torres. He secured a copy of the memorial of Juan Luis Arias printed in 1640 and became certain there was a strait south of New Guinea. Dalrymple's "An account of the Discoveries made in the South Pacifick Ocean previous to 1764" was printed in 1767 but not published until 1769. It contained a map with Torres' approximate course and he gave a copy to his friend Joseph Banks. Torres Map was actually held in the Philippines.

Cook thus had the Vaugasidy Chart from de Brosses' Histoires des Voyages aux Terres Australes, Dalrymple's book and the Vagne chart and had a lot of reason to believe he would find a passage when he approached Cape York.

The Endeavour Straight, the passage Cook sailed through was south of that used by Torres. The charts of de Brosses were fairly satisfactory for the west coast of New Guinea where Cook made a landing.

The 25c stamp is a very worthy addition to the Australian segment on Cook. Another issue which fits in well with the above is the Papua New Guinea 10th September 1975 Independence issue miniature sheet, which shows clearly a map of Australia and Papua New Guinea and the islands to Batavia.

Doug Gibson

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 233, volume 6, number 4 (1983).

No comments

Unsolicited e-mail warning

It has come to our attention that spam mailers (senders of bulk unsolicited e-mail) have been forging their mail with this domain as the point of origin. As a matter of policy, we do not send out e-mail from our domain name. If you have received an email that appears to be from "@CaptainCookSociety.com" it was forged and sent without our consent, knowledge, or the use of our servers.