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Lasseter's lost reef

Nothing captures the Australian imagination quite like the thought of striking it lucky.

The team thins

The team thins

Blakeley 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.

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

Starvation sets in

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

Though at several points Aboriginal people provide him with water and shelter, Lasseter appears desperate for food and his diary offers several false goodbyes before it peters out to its final end. Lasseter's writing is particularly harsh towards Blakeley and his team. 

I leave my everlasting curse on Blakeley and Jenkins, Blakeley 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. 

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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.