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Lasseter’s Reef and One Man’s Maddened Quest for Gold


In the 18th and nineteenth centuries, the search for gold was at an all-time excessive. People found huge goldfields all internationally, attracting newcomers who wished to strive their luck. Gold miners and prospectors flocked to Alaska, Canada, Africa, and Australia. Some of them discovered wealth, whereas others discovered nothing in any respect. But some discovered greater than they bargained for. They discovered the insanity that the hunt for gold can create, the obsession with the promise of wealth. Harold Bell Lasseter was one such man, devoting his whole life looking out for a fabled gold subject within the coronary heart of Australia. Was he a madman? Or does his story conceal one thing we’re but to uncover?

The Story of the Fabled Lasseter’s Reef

Harold Bell Lasseter was a seemingly unusual Australian man. He was born in Victoria in 1880, was self-educated, and often called a literate and well-spoken man. Not a lot about his life is thought in nice element. He traveled to America now and again, in addition to throughout Australia , doing completely different jobs to make a residing. It can also be identified he was married and had 5 youngsters. During Australia’s involvement within the First World War, Lasseter had a historical past of going AWOL (absent with out go away), and was discharged due to this. All in all, his life might have been reasonably unremarkable. But it wasn’t.

Harold Lasseter 1915, a few years before his first expedition for the gold reef. (Public domain)

Harold Lasseter 1915, a couple of years earlier than his first expedition for the gold reef. ( Public area )

In 1929 and 1930, Lasseter – now a person of fifty, made claims that in his youth, he found an exceptionally wealthy and huge deposit of gold, often called a reef. This alleged reef was positioned in Central Australia, on the western fringe of the MacDonnell Ranges. The reef was supposedly in contrast to every other discovered earlier than, and was extremely wealthy with gold. Lasseter’s claims reached the federal government officers, and a geologist and a commissioner have been despatched to interview him. No additional motion was taken, nevertheless.

But Lasseter was not dismayed, and subsequent reached out to the Australian Workers’ Union. This time, nevertheless, a barely completely different account of his story was given. He claimed to have stumbled upon an enormous gold-bearing reef when he was 17 years outdated, whereas he was using a horse from Queensland to the West Australian gold fields. Upon discovery, nevertheless, he bought “into difficulties”, and was fortunately saved by a passing Afghan camel driver. When he returned to the realm, he couldn’t find the reef. The space was on the time huge, unexplored Australian desert wilderness, the place orientation may be very troublesome, even by right now’s requirements.

 

Lasseter claims of discovering a gold reef in Central Australia. (Trung Nguyen/Adobe Stock)

Lasseter claims of discovering a gold reef in Central Australia. ( Trung Nguyen /Adobe Stock )

A Golden Fable – or Golden Fact?

This time, Lasseter’s story attracted the eye of keen explorers. It was the Great Depression in Australia and discovering enough funds for mounting an expedition was difficult. Either means, the Australian Workers’ Union was attracted by Lasseter’s story, and his descriptions of gold “as thick as plums in a pudding”. He judged that “his” gold reef was price £60 million ($72 million) at the very least – and that was an excellent motivator within the Great Depression period.

The Union arrange a syndicate in Sydney as a way to assist fund the expedition. Within the primary 24 hours, £5000 ($6000) was raised. In no time, this quantity reached £50,000 ($60000). The motion was a hit and lastly Harold Bell Lasseter would have the ability to show to the world that he was not a madman on a idiot’s quest and that the now fabled “Lasseter’s Reef” was as actual as might be.

The funding allowed Lasseter and the boys of the Union to mount an honest expedition. The group numbered 7 males in whole, with a strong six-wheeler truck, and a aircraft as nicely. For the time, it was fairly an elaborate setup. At his aspect, Lasseter had seasoned males that have been preferrred for the expedition. The crew included Lasseter as a information, in addition to a pilot, mechanic, driver, governor-general’s aide, crew chief, and a prospector. With such a crew, success was nearly assured. And so, on July twenty first 1930, they started their quest to seek out Lasseter’s Reef.

But excessive spirits have been extinguished nearly immediately. Lasseter’s conduct turned more and more odd. He was in a sullen temper and gave solely imprecise instructions. The crew described him as “eccentric”, and more and more uncooperative and suspicious. He started singing Mormon hymns, and spending lengthy durations writing one thing in his diary. To make issues worse, the expedition was hampered by a string of misfortunes. The aircraft crashed twice and in the long run was misplaced. Mechanical issues occurred usually, and the wilderness of the distant area was extraordinarily troublesome to traverse. In no time, the crew started to doubt the very existence of the fabled Lasseter’s Reef.

When Obsession Borders Sheer Madness

When the expedition lastly reached Mount Leisler within the harsh Australian desert wilderness, Harold Bell Lasseter merely declared that they have been 240 kilometers (150 mi) too far north of the meant search zone. The remainder of the crew didn’t take this frivolously. They have been on the finish of their composure, with Lasseter seemingly main them on a idiot’s path. Absolutely angered, the expedition chief declared that Lasseter was nothing however a swindler and a charlatan, and ended the expedition then and there.

In no time, the crew parted methods with Lasseter, leaving him on his personal – the reef now of no concern to them. Still, Lasseter was not troubled and determined to proceed the search. His conduct, nevertheless, was more and more eccentric and his obsession with Lasseter’s Reef guided him straight into insanity. Yet he met with a passing dingo hunter, Paul Johns and his group of camels, and collectively they agreed to go looking for the reef, touring in direction of the Kata Tjuta rock formations. Alas, Paul Johns too was fast to note that one thing was not fairly proper with Lasseter.

One afternoon, he returned to camp bearing a hid rock pattern , saying to Johns that he re-discovered his fabled reef. However, he refused to disclose its location to Johns, which enormously angered the dingo hunter. A battle ensued, and in the long run, Paul Johns deserted Lasseter and declared him a mendacity madman, leaving him to his personal gadgets.

Paul Johns was the final European to have seen Harold Bell Lasseter alive. He left Lasseter on their own, with simply two camels to make his search simpler. But nothing about it will be simple, since a lone man within the harsh Australian bush would have very slim probabilities of success. For the following 16 weeks, Lasseter made makes an attempt to relocate his gold reef and to outlive. He met with a wandering group of Aboriginal natives and spent a while with them. However, their meager rations weren’t sufficient to maintain him as nicely, and as soon as extra he was alone.

Holding Fast to an Idea – Even to the Last Breath

At one level, Lasseter’s camels fled, leaving him on their own within the huge desert, with completely no assist. That was the second that sealed his destiny. Several months later, a search occasion found Lasseter’s emaciated stays. In his remaining days, he was severely malnourished and blinded, finally dying from starvation and exhaustion. His physique was found on the website known as Winter’s Glen, whereas his private belongings have been present in a small cave at Hull’s Creek. Lasseter had saved an in depth diary, which he buried throughout the cave. The diary reveals his poignant ideas and his final moments on Earth. To the final second he was sure that he was getting ready to rediscovering Lasseter’s Reef, by no means shedding hope.

Lasseter took shelter here for about 25 days during January 1931, when trying to find a rich gold deposit that he claimed to have discovered in the area.  He recorded his account of his journey and was later found by a local Pitjantjatjara family. (Kendra Baker / CC by SA 4.0)

Lasseter took shelter right here for about 25 days throughout January 1931, when looking for a wealthy gold deposit that he claimed to have found within the space.  He recorded his account of his journey and was later discovered by an area Pitjantjatjara household. (Kendra Baker / CC by SA 4.0 )

Plaque at Kulpi Tjuntinya, Lasseter's Cave, in Northern Territory, Australia. (sallyseashells (CC by SA 2.0)

Plaque at Kulpi Tjuntinya, Lasseter’s Cave, in Northern Territory, Australia. ( sallyseashells ( CC by SA 2.0 )

Somewhere alongside the road, weak and exhausted, Lasseter tried to stroll from the cave and attain Uluru, after realizing that no assist was coming. This was a comparatively shut rock formation , also called Ayers Rock. The sandstone formation rises steeply from the encompassing desert and is wealthy with freshwater springs, water holes, and rock caves. His trek was, nevertheless, a brief one, and he died not removed from the cave, alone and emaciated. His diary stays as a really placing and unhappy glimpse into this man’s troubled thoughts, and his realization that no assist was coming, and that he was all on his personal. He waited desperately for provides and assist, wrote of his love for his spouse and youngsters and his considerations for them, and his shut encounters with dying.

The quest for Lasseter’s Reef ended all too quickly and in a tragic means. Harold Bell Lasseter was buried with dignity, and his story was shortly popularized. Many – or most – thought that his story was pure insanity, though the person’s diary stated in any other case. In some ways, Lasseter took his secrets and techniques with him to the grave, leaving us solely to take a position in useless.

In 1931, not even a yr after Lasseter died, Australian author Ion Idriess bought his diary for £25, from his widow. He used it as a supply materials for writing his best-seller, “Lasseter’s Last Ride”. The e-book was an instantaneous success and was reprinted 17 instances within the following 4 years.

A Man That Left Many Mysteries

In the years following his dying, Harold Bell Lasseter turned the supply of many enigmas. It was found that his precise beginning title was Lewis Hubert Lasseter. In 1924, nevertheless, he added “Harold Bell” to his title. It is probably going that he took this from the title of author Harold Bell Wright, who revealed his e-book “The Mine with the Iron Door” in 1923. And, most apparently, this e-book’s central subject is a misplaced gold reef.

That isn’t the one thriller. Over the years, Lasseter made some odd claims. He offered himself variously as a ship’s captain, a prospector, surveyor, and even because the designer of the Sydney Harbor bridge. Could or not it’s that he was, in truth, an precise madman? A swindler who wished to dupe a whole continent? Or was he merely an eccentric man who firmly believed in his misplaced gold reef? Whatever the reality, we would really by no means realize it.

The story of the Lasseter’s Reef shortly turned a sensation in Australia. The story gained legendary proportions and many keen prospectors tried to find the reef – with no success. Several films have been made based mostly on the story, and even right now, nearly a century later, the story captivates the creativeness of all Australians.

Was Harold Bell Lasseter a Misunderstood Man?
In the top, the story stays a thriller. But now we have to pose a query: was Harold Bell Lasseter a gravely misunderstood man? Was he judged too shortly and deserted earlier than his quest could possibly be realized? In the many years after his dying, many have requested this query, however the reply couldn’t be discovered.

The solely reply to this enigma is Lasseter’s Reef itself. Finding it will come as a remaining exclamation mark to the entire wild story of Harold Bell Lasseter. But up to now, no “exceptionally rich gold reef”, the place gold was “as thick as plums in a pudding” has been found in Australia.

Top picture: Lasseter’s quest to seek out an enormous reef of gold. Source: Zaleman/Adobe Stock

By Aleksa Vučković

References

Lee, Ok. and Decarli, B. 2021. Lasseter’s Reef: One Man’s Journey Uncovers The Truth. Boolarong Biographies.

McKeague, J. 2015. Sam Hazlett and the Search for Lasseter’s Reef.

Unknown, 2005. National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries. National Library of Australia.



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