Catholic Bishop to visit Gladstone
WHEN the Catholic Bishop of the Rockhampton diocese Michael McCarthy visits Gladstone on Wednesday to view the LNG sites, he may well be visiting the site where the first Catholic Mass had been celebrated in Australia more than 400 years ago.
His visit, which is to be hosted by the Gladstone Regional Council, is part of his expressed wish to visit all corners of his diocese and learn about the industries that sustain them.
Accompanied by Councillors, Bishop Michael's tour will include a ferry tour, courtesy of Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited and Bechtel, near the three LNG sites on Curtis Island.
On his return he will visit Auckland Hill where it is believed the maritime explorer, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, celebrated Mass in 1606.
He will then confer a blessing on the Councillors in the Gladstone Library Square plaza which was named after Australia's first saint, Mary McKillop, before he, along with Gladstone parish priests Kevin Redmond and Aliki Langi, joins the Councillors for lunch.
Before becoming Bishop of the Rockhampton diocese, which includes Gladstone, Bishop Michael had learned with interest about the possible discovery of Port Curtis by De Quiros 164 years before Lieutenant James Cook proclaimed Australia a British colony.
De Quiros, who was Portuguese, sailed under the Spanish flag for the King of Spain. He made many unsuccessful attempts to convince the king to take possession of the land of his discovery.
A tendency to view Australia's discovery from an Anglo-centric perspective has made it difficult to progress the De Quiros claim.
But the necessary subterfuge by the explorer himself so as not to reveal the exact location of his discovery added to this difficulty.
It seems likely that even in his time, political and scientific enemies used his ruse against him.
De Quiros had placed 'Terra Australis' (The Great South Land) further north east - the land now known as Santos Island just south of Vanuatu.
For some researchers there are a number of factors that indicate that Santos Island was a decoy and not the place De Quiros described to the king and others.