Alessandro Malaspina: An Italian/Spaniard at Port Jackson

Laura Olcelli


Tuscan-born and Spanish-trained Alessandro Malaspina (1754-1810) captained the most significant scientific expedition ever launched by Spain in the years 1789-1794. After a survey of the Spanish colonies in America, he directed the course of the Descubierta towards the South Pacific and anchored at Port Jackson on 11 March 1793. In my essay I will scrutinize the New South Wales leg of Malaspina’s voyage account, comparing 'Viaje político-científico alrededor del mundo' (the original 1885 Spanish edition) and 'Journal of a Voyage by Alejandro Malaspina' (its 2001 English translation), and integrating them with the captain’s secret reports. The examination of Malaspina’s comments on the infant colony will simultaneously expose the Spanish attitude to early British colonialism in New South Wales, and help assess Malaspina’s complex role as the first explorer who reached Terra Australis from the Italian peninsula.


Italian presence in Australia; Spanish expeditions; British colonialism; Port Jackson; voyage accounts

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