Lasseter's diary | State Library of New South Wales

Lasseter's diary

Dissent arose between Lasseter and Blakeley. Blakeley grew suspicious that Lasseter was leading the group on a wild goose chase. He could not identify the geographic landforms which he should have recognised from his previous travels in the area. His lack of navigational skills and continuing vagueness of the location of the reef resulted in the group dividing, with Blakeley and his men returning to Alice Springs and Lasseter continuing with the assistance of Paul Johns, an experienced bushman and dingo trapper and his 5 camels.

Not long into this journey there was a falling out between the men. The camels needed resting and Lasseter left them with Johns while he went ahead. Two days later, Lasseter returned to Johns carrying several bags of samples, claiming he had found the reef, however he refused to show the samples to Johns. Johns called Lasseter a liar and a fight broke out. The next morning Johns left for Alice Springs and Lasseter continued on alone.

He was not seen again, nor was any gold discovered. Johns remarked later that Lasseter did not impress him as a man who knew the country, but rather as one who had read about it.

Lasseter claims in his diary that he had rediscovered the reef and had pegged and claimed the area (but gave no date or no location); however, suffering from starvation and sandy blight he recorded his thoughts, “what good a reef worth millions? I would give it all for a loaf of bread”.

Lasseter's death in early 1931 from starvation was mourned by the local people who had provided him with water in his final weeks.

Get the latest Flash player to view this interactive content.

Get Adobe Flash player

> Read the complete diary via the Library's catalogue Link to catalogue

Transcript: Harold Lasseter - Diary with fragments, 1930 - ca. 1931, Manuscript, MLMSS 3269

I have watched & hoped for relief till I am about the end of my tether & am in very bad shape indeed. The 5 mile walk was simply awful for me tho the old fellow carried the pack. Tucker is the one & only necessity here.

Oddly enough the two prospecting pans that were stolen were returned to me by the young headman today but he retained the presents I had given him.

The lubra that he introduced to me was named Angola he said the word about 100 times to impress me with it but when I tried to find out his name he simply repeated all I said.

Dearest Rene I am sorry to finish out here & the worry of not knowing how you are faring & knowing how you must be in suspense as to my fate is simply the worst pain of all. Teach the children to believe the best you can of their father and

soften the tale of my suffering here. If I could only know what the trouble is all about that no relief was sent or anything done at all. Oh it is awful indeed and the skeleton of me can scare support the weight of my clothes. Im an awful sight & the flies are maddening & ants something that Hell can not improve on

The blacks must have seen me burying stuff on the sandhill for they brought in the films that I had buried under the fire so I have now buried them under the floor of cave top end. I scratched the hole out last night when I feel sure they were not about.

but oh what does it matter. I want relief & have saved one cartridge but will stick it out as long as possible.

The old man has just come & pointed the water & bough shelter out to me again saying capee caro capee caro about 1 dozen times

I am giving him this book & saying

Alice Springs Alice Springs 100 times

Kindest regards to all dear & kiss mother for me

I loved you always as I love you now with all my heart & soul. “God be good to me a sinner” AMEN

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 omitting 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

I can do nothing against them “beaten by Sandy Blight” what an epitaph, I keep one hand constantly swishing while I am awake but it just serves to knock a hole thro’ the swarm & they work day & night

Oh Rene what a fool I was to rely on promises to send relief. I don’t know for sure what happened to Paul Johns but I left him within reach of civilization & he understood & could talk the language fluently. I had one of the young men all day trying to teach him but they are so dense

I tried most of the day to learn his language but when I would point to anything & try to find out what it was the answer was usually a repetition of my word. I tried one day to teach a piccaninny the numerals on a watch dial & he got so he could point to them & repeat them, then two old men dropped in & said something to him & he turned into a block of wood for density. I wonder if the old men knew I was trying to educate him & objected.

Poisened today. I crept out to try & get some green feed and chewed a herb which was poison. Old man with wart very kind. Young bucks gathered round & laughed. Fired my 3 shots & they ran like hell paroxisms passed but too weak to move

Love Harry

After all Im not dead yet but I thought I was a goner yesterday as a final flutter I drank the remaining brandy, half bottle of castor oil & the last [indecipherable] powder. I suppose the combination of all three effected the cure, but Im still very weak. The old man came again with a rabbit & three young parrots. Very acceptable then the irony of it is about ½ dozen others drop in and help to eat & they eat the biggest share. I stewed the rabbit & got the gravy anyway.

Ive tried to amuse the blacks by drawing pictures but somehow they don’t appeal. I am as helpless as a kitten now & they know it. I was turned adrift this morning & told to shift for myself. The young buck that introduced the lubra being very arrogant tho’ I gave him this blanket camp sheet tommyhawk & sheath knife. The old chap I have previously mentioned with the long beard & wart took pity on my to the extent of carrying my things 5 miles up stream where more water was available & built me a bough shelter alongside it juts where Paul & I had the job with the camels bogging. I have 2 snares left but the blacks have been 100 strong on the creek all the week & have pretty near got every rabbit. They cannot get enough for themselves now I suppose is the reason they turned me adrift. I have told him he can have everything I leave behind if he gets this book to Alice Springs.

I suppose it is [indecipherable] & proper that I should say “God have mercy on me & be good to those I leave behind”