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  THE LEGEND OF LASSETER - Page 2       Page 3 »»     «« Page 1

The news was good, at last. The directors had supplied another aircraft, that was due to arrive at Ilbilba within days. The smaller truck returned to Alice Springs for more supplies while the larger returned to Ilbilba. After an agonizing wait the second truck arrived from Alice Springs with news that the aircraft was due to arrive the next day. The local inhabitants for many miles around were camped nearby enjoying the novelty of the white men in there midst. An air of tranquility existed, until the aircraft arrived. A 'bird' of this nature had never been seen before by the indigenous blacks, who promptly bolted in all directions, eventually crawling back to a safe distance where this huge 'creature' could be viewed with caution.

For over 20 years gold poured from the ground, but eventually, the bonanza slowed and the Western Australian government re-assessed the mineral resources of the State. In 1916 the Western Australian Government sent expeditions into the desert in an effort to find this lost treasure. They suffered attacks from the indigenous aborigines, and as casualties resulted, expeditions were abandoned.

Lasseter continued to seek support for a well-provisioned and equipped expedition into the desert to find his 'Eldorado', without success. Eventually Harold Lasseter convinced John Bailey, the influential President of the Australian Workers Union of the authenticity of his claim. Bailey investigated the claim and found records and other government data that substantially supported Lasseter's claim.

Through his influence, a company was formed and 5,000 pounds raised to finance and equip an expedition into the desert to re-locate the reef. Lasseter was overjoyed at his good luck. His time had come, after almost 30 years.

The expedition group consisted of two trucks and with the support of an aircraft that could provide a wider view of the vast territory to be covered. With great expectations the expedition set off into the desert on 21 July 1930. The intention was for the entire party, including the pilot to travel together, reach a suitable staging area where alanding strip would be made for the aircraft.

The pilot would then return to Alice Springs, collect the aircraft and fly to this location. After 9 days of relative easy going, they reached Taylor's Creek, some 240 miles west of Alice Springs. This area proved suitable for their purposes, and an air strip was constructed. The pilot in the smaller truck returned to Alice Springs in company with one other, who was to replenish the expedition with stores. The pilot flying on to Taylor's Creek where the aircraft would be secured, until a further landing site was found further west.

A few days later the aircraft aptly named the 'Golden Quest', arrived at the rough strip, along with the smaller truck with more supplies. All was going according to plan.

The re-grouped party secured the aircraft, and move on to the west towards Ilbilba. The country was forbidding and becoming more difficult to traverse daily. Progress was incredibly slow. Two miles an hour being the accepted rate. Ilbilba was reached.

A previous expedition had cleared a large staging area, quite suitable for use as a landing strip. The pilot and the second truck, set off back to Taylor's Creek to bring the aircraft forward, while the truck would return to Alice Springs and bring supplies forward. All went well until the aircraft lifted into the air. The motor stalled and the "Golden Quest", fell from the sky unceremoniously overturning on impact injuring the pilot. He was conveyed to Alice Springs in the truck in great pain. The party at Ilbilba waited expectantly for the aircraft. Realization that something was amiss was all too evident. Leaving two men at the camp to secure the stores the large truck headed back towards Taylor's Creek.

After 5 grueling days they arrived and located the damaged aircraft. Fortunately a note had been left, advising of the accident, and the necessity to convey the pilot, to Alice Springs for medical attention. A few days later, the party at Taylor's Creek was joined by the smaller truck en route to Ilbilba. The aircraft was dismantled, placed on this vehicle and returned to Alice Springs for transport to Adelaide for repairs.

It was decided to continue west, towards the area where hopefully Lasseter would recognize land marks and guide the party to the lost reef. The country was incredibly hard. Sand dunes blocked the way and the truck became bogged numerous times. On each occasion it had to be dug out by hand, move a few more yards, and had to be dug out again. The countries forbidding nature was taking it's toll, denying progress. After 10 days they had traveled a mere 100 miles, and they were now confronted by sand dunes that were clearly impassable. They had no alternative but to return to Ilbilba. Once there they were surprised to find that the second truck had not arrived back from Alice Springs as expected, and a decision was made for the large truck to return to Taylor's Creek to search for them. They continued past Taylor's Creek, and eventually located the second truck many miles further east.

The next day with Lasseter on board, the aircraft headed west, seeking recognizable landmarks. They were found, but the limited range of the flying observation platform was considered a huge draw back, so it was decided to fly the aircraft to Adelaide via Alice Springs for a new engine and larger fuel tanks to be fitted. The ground party headed southwest towards the country Lasseter had recognized. The going became increasingly difficult and eventually became impassable to the vehicles. There was no alternative but to return to Ilbilba, and seek instructions from the directors. Lasseter was hell bent on continuing at all costs, and when they arrived back at the staging camp, they were surprised to find a man called Johns was there with 5 camels. After some negotiating, Johns was engaged and with Lasseter they headed back into the desert.

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