Lasseter's Reef refers to the purported discovery of a
fabulously rich gold deposit in a remote and desolate corner
of central Australia.
From Wikipedia, the free
In 1929 and 1930 Harold Bell Lasseter claimed that in 1897,
as a young man, he had attempted to walk from Alice Springs
to the West Australian goldfields, during which he stumbled
across a huge gold reef somewhere near the Northern
Territory - Western Australian border. He further claimed
that subsequent to this discovery he got into difficulties
and was fortuitously rescued by a passing Afghan camel
driver who took him to the camp of a surveyor named Harding.
Harding and Lasseter were said to have later returned to the
reef in the attempt to fix its location, but failed because
their watches were inaccurate.
According to Lasseter, he then spent the next three decades
trying to raise sufficient interest to fund an expedition
into the interior. But at the time the fortunes being made
from the gold rush at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia meant
that none were prepared to risk trekking into the uncharted
desert wilderness of central Australia, even if the supposed
discovery was as rich as he claimed.
But by 1930, when Australia was in the grip of the Great
Depression, the attractions of such desert gold were much
greater, and Lasseter succeeded in securing �50,000 of
funding toward an expedition to relocate the reef. Unusual
for the time, this expedition included motorised vehicular
transport and an aircraft. Accompanying Lasseter were
experienced bushmen Fred Blakeley and Fred Colson, as well
as a prospector, an engineer, an explorer and a pilot.
The group endured great logistical difficulties and physical
hardships, and on reaching Mount Marjorie (now Mount Leisler),
Lasseter declared that they were, in fact, 150 miles too far
north. Exasperated, Blakely declared Lasseter a charlatan,
and decided to end the expedition. The expedition parted
with Lasseter at Ilbilba; however, he insisted on continuing
onwards. Accompanied by a dingo-shooter named Paul Johns,
Lasseter, whose behaviour was later reported as being
increasingly erratic, set off towards The Olgas. One
afternoon Lasseter returned to camp and announced that he
had relocated the gold reef, however he refused to reveal
its location. Johns, who by now doubted Lasseter's sanity,
accused him of being a liar, a fight ensued, and Johns left
Lasseter to his own devices. Lasseter himself vanished into
the desert sands.
A search for Lasseter was conducted by a bushman named Bob
Buck, and he succeeded in finding Lasseter's body at
Winter's Glen and, some way away, personal effects in a cave
at Hull's Creek; it later emerged (from a 'diary' found in
the cave) that after Johns left, Lasseter's camels had
bolted, leaving him alone in the desert without any means of
sustaining himself or returning to civilization. He had then
encountered a group of nomadic Aborigines, who had rendered
what assistance they could, but a weakened and blinded
Lasseter eventually succumbed to malnutrition and
exhaustion, having made a belated attempt to walk from the
Cave to Ayers Rock (Uluru) or the Olgas (Kata Juta).
No maps showing the location of the fabled gold reef were
ever found, and over subsequent decades the tale of the Reef
and its discoverer has assumed mythic proportions; it is
perhaps the most famous lost mine legend in Australia, and
remains a holy grail among Australian prospectors.