The first search for the Lost Reef
The men recruited for Lasseter’s journey were a diverse group, and included a prospector, a pilot, a mechanic and the aide-de-camp to a Governor General. The team was to be led by Fred Blakely, a very experienced miner and prospector who eventually wrote a book about his experience with Lasseter called Dream millions.
The group planned to have their supplies shipped from Darling Harbour to Alice Springs - the official starting point for their hunt.
Word of Lasseter’s story and their journey to seek the reef reached the Thornycroft motor company and the manager donated a vehicle for use during the expedition.
A light plane was also procured and renamed ‘Golden Quest’ for the journey, but an accident during take-off led to its replacement by ‘Golden Quest II.’
It quickly became apparent to Blakely and most of his team that Lasseter was not at all familiar with the landscapes. Another member of the team described Lasseter’s knowledge as the kind that comes from reading about an area, not from experiencing it first hand.
Indeed, reading has become a theme in modern thinking about Lasseter. The name he had most recently adopted, Harold Bell, was the same as that of an author whose book The Mine with the Iron Door was an extremely popular novel at the time.
Throughout the journey, Lasseter seemingly did little to reassure the team or to ease their frustrations. He kept largely to himself, sleeping apart from other members of the team and spending a lot of time writing in his diary. His descriptions of the reef were vague at best and he seemed to possess almost no navigational abilities.
The expedition had set off on 30 July 1930. By early 1931 Lasseter would die of starvation in Central Australia.