Pedro Fernandez de Quiros

Related to City Art
Installed 1989
People walking along a large footpath on a tree lined street,  bronze statue standing on the far left
Close up head and shouldeers of bronze statue of Spanish explorer, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros
A bronze statue of Spanish explorer, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, on a sandstone plinth.

A bronze statue of Spanish explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros stands on a sandstone plinth.

Artist: Unknown 

Artwork description

This bronze statue depicts Spanish explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros standing around 2m tall on a sandstone plinth.

It is one of a series of busts of famous Latin American heroes displayed on Ibero American Plaza. The series on Chalmers Street commemorates the contribution of Spanish and Portuguese speaking people to the history of Australia.

More information

Pedro Fernandez de Quiros was born in 1565 in Evora, Portugal and entered the service of the Spanish King as a young man. He journeyed from Acapulco to Manila several times. In 1595 he was appointed pilot in the expedition of Alvaro de Mendana, whose previous voyages are considered to be the original exploration of the Solomon Islands. The fleet left El Callao, Peru in April 1595 and ‘discovered’ the Marquesa Islands and Santa Cruz Island on their way to establish a permanent colony in the Solomon Islands. Mendana de Neyra died on the voyage and Quiros assumed command bringing the ships safely into Port Manilla.

The Spanish crown provided money to enable Quiros to set out on another expedition to ‘discover’ the ‘Terra Australis Incognita’. With the blessing of Pope Clement VIII, Quiros left El Callao, Peru in December 1605. On 1 May 1606 he landed on and named what he thought was the great southern land, which he claimed in the name of the King of Spain, Phillip III of the house of Austria. He named this land ‘Australia del Espiritu Santo’ (Vanuatu). He established a settlement before realising he had instead reached a small island. A storm on 11 June 1606 forced the ships to separate.

Torres, the commander of the second vessel, came back through the Torres Strait and sighted the continent now known as Australia. Quiros came back through Mexico and the glossy account of this discovery, through a leak in the Spanish bureaucracy, was printed in all European languages. He was employed as a cartographer in Madrid and was then put in charge of a second expedition to Australia. He died in Panama in 1615 on his way back to the South Pacific.


King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Sophia presented the statue of Quiros to the City of Sydney at a function in Sydney Town Hall on 17 June 1988.

The statue was unveiled at the official opening of the Ibero American Plaza on 4 February 1989.


An inscription reads:

Pedro Fernandez de Quiros (1565-1615)
This great Portuguese born explorer in the service of Spain made important discoveries in the Pacific. Quiros gave the name of Australia del Espiritu Santo to the great southern continent and died in Panama while on his way back to the South Pacific to establish a settlement in the new lands. The name modified to simply “Australia” is the proud name of the nation today.

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