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Bailed UpNever-say-die Lasseter

In a new twist to the indomitable Lasseter legend, Vietnam veteran Bill Decarli claims to have found the elusive reef of gold by reversing Lasseter’s map.

Story Angie Testa Photos Bill Decarli

Ever since the death of Harold Lasseter in February 1931 in the inhospitable, scorching Western Australian desert, prospectors and fortune-hunters have tried in vain to find the gold reef he claimed was there. As recently as January 2003, a party, which included Lasseter’s son Bob, his sister Joy McClure, her son Alan (himself a prospector), along with a team of professionals journeyed to the place on Irving Creek, west of Alice Springs, where Lasseter had perished. In a moving ceremony, Joy McLure read from her father’s Bible on the spot where Bob Lasseter had previously erected a cairn to his father’s memory. Members of the party also looked for the famous reef and crucial landmarks mentioned in Lasseter’s diary, which are situated on land sacred to the local Aboriginal people. No reef was found, and the general consensus put forward was that visibility of the landmarks might be dependent on atmospheric conditions, such as a morning haze.
Yet, when the tough, down-to-earth Lasseter approached the president of the Australian Workers’ Union in Pitt Street, Sydney, in 1929 with his story of a fabulous gold reef several feet high and many miles long, he was quite specific about the landmarks in relation to the reef. He had them jotted down in his diary. They consisted of three hills to the north-west of the reef, which resembled ladies talking together wearing “sun bonnets”, a waterhole adjacent to the reef and a hill to the south-east of the reef. He had written about bearings taken “from a very high hill nearby”, adding that there was a small lake 20 miles west of the reef. Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 37 October/November 2004

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