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Portuguese and Spanish Sailings
In the 15th century Portugal's systematic drive southward along the west coast of Africa, seeking trade with India, rekindled European interest in finding the as yet undiscovered Terra Australis. Portuguese mariners may have charted the east coast of the continent in as early as the 16th century, but they preferred to concentrate on India, East Africa, and Southeast Asia. Australia remained undiscovered by the West for other reasons as well. One was that the continent's location was off the Oceanic-island trading corridor of the Indian and South Pacific oceans. In addition, the winds in the Southern Hemisphere tend to veer northward in the direction of the equator west of Australia, whereas east of the continent the strong head winds discourage sailing into them.
In the 16th and early 17th centuries, Spain, having established its empire in South and Central America, began a series of expeditions from Peru into the South Pacific. Encouraged by the discovery of the Solomon Islands (northeast of Australia) by Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira in 1567, Spanish New World officials launched several expeditions in hopes of finding gold. After the failure of these voyages to find either precious minerals or significant new landmasses, Spain abandoned its interest in Terra Australis after 1605.