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The Team Thins

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Oh it is awful indeed and the skeleton of me can scare support the weight of my clothes.
-Harold Lasseter, Diary Fragments 1930

The team thins

Blakely grew too frustrated to continue and led most of his team back to Alice Springs. Lasseter was left alone with a bushman and dingo trapper named Paul Johns, but their relationship quickly grew turbulent. Lasseter was determined to push on at all costs and having overtired their camels, decided to leave them with Johns for a few days while he continued his search.

Two days later Lasseter returned to Johns with a bag of samples he claimed were from the reef, but a fight broke out between the two when he refused to let Johns see the proof for himself. Johns called Lasseter a liar and left him in the wilderness while he returned to Alice Springs.

Starvation sets in

Unfamiliar with the lay of the land and unable to speak any Indigenous languages, Lasseter’s last diary entries paint a picture of a desperate man. 

Though at several points local Aboriginal communities appear to provide him with water and shelter, he appears desperate only for tucker and his diary offers several false goodbyes before it peters out to its real end. Lasseter's writing is particularly venomous towards Blakely and his team. 

I leave my everlasting curse on Blakely and Jenkins, Blakely for not sending the relief as promised and Jenkins for omitting the Argerol.

Before his demise, Lasseter claims in his diary that he has found the reef, pegging and claiming the area. However the reef has never since been discovered, though Lasseter’s expedition wouldn’t be the last to try and find it. 

Transcript: 

eyes are still blurry & smart a good deal but are much better than last week. To my way of thinking this is the ninth day after the camels bolted & I hear they went north (Ilbilla way) so may reach the Mission in a couple of months Too late to benefit me. I may as well write finish to my life chapter it is only will power that is holding me up & that is dam poor sustenance 

If my feet were only tough but the irony of it is, that my feet are the tenderest part of my body. I leave my everlasting curse on Blakely & Jenkins, Blakely for not sending the relief as promised and Jenkins for [indecipherable] the Argerol Darling I want you to remember me as when we first met & not the scarecrow that I now am have shrunk still further & the flies & ants have nearly eaten my face 

Harold Lasseter - Diary with fragments, 1930 - ca. 1931
1930-ca. 1931
Harold Bell Lasseter, d 1931
Digital ID: 
a1190003
View collection item detail
Harold Lasseter - Diary with fragments, 1930 - ca. 1931
1930-ca. 1931
Harold Bell Lasseter , d. 1931
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a1190008
Transcript: 

hand malla or gryah arm ninna leg alpa or colpa capa body wela head mala hair catta eye curro nose milla teeth cattee pigeon tulba emu calaah [indecipherable] malu basin wera or weda [indecipherable] peka 

Harold Lasseter - Diary with fragments, 1930 - ca. 1931
1930-ca. 1931
Harold Bell Lasseter , d. 1931
Digital ID: 
a1190011
View collection item detail
Harold Lasseter - Diary with fragments, 1930 - ca. 1931
1930-ca. 1931
Harold Bell Lasseter, d.1931
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a1190013
Harold Lasseter - Diary with fragments, 1930 - ca. 1931
1930-ca. 1931
Harold Bell Lasseter, d.1931
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a1190063

This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.