National Library of Australia

Teachers notes: Harold Lasseter’s diary

Speaking and Listening

A student:

  • communicates ideas for specific purposes with people in the classroom and the school, e.g. retells stories, gives reports, tells jokes, conducts interviews.
  • talks about ways of communicating, e.g. how to organise, rehearse and modify ideas in group activities.

Reading and Viewing

A student:

  • understands and discusses some links between ideas, information and events in written and visual texts.
  • recognises and discusses the use of ‘symbols’ in texts and what they mean, e.g. a heart for love, red for danger.
  • recognises and discusses that some people are often shown (stereotyped) in certain ways, e.g. ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ in books, films and television stories.
  • identifies and uses the structures and features of different types of written and visual texts, e.g. picks out and understands the main elements of plot, setting and character, discusses the use of sound effects and background music.

Lasseter’s diary bears the marks of fire, water and dirt. It includes maps of country, drawings of animals and people he met on his journey and letters to his wife Rene.

Lasseter wrote in his diary while he was dying of malnutrition in a cave.


  • What is a diary?
  • Who might keep a diary?
  • What might a diary look like?
  • What would you put in a diary?
  • Would you let other people look at a diary?
  • Would you hide it? Where? Why?
  • What have you done today that might go into a diary?
  • What message would you leave in your diary buried for people to find years later?


Make a map to Lasseter’s reef using only symbols. Materials: clean blank paper, textas, glue, coloured paper, scissors, stapler, glitter

  • Look at and discuss symbol legends on maps.
  • How do Aboriginal people use symbols in art?
  • How is colour used symbolically?
  • Draw your own imaginary map to Lasseter’s reef using visual symbols. Make up symbols for places and events including Ehrenberg and Petermann ranges, Uluru, Mt Olga, water holes and where the plane crashed. Include symbols for animals Lasseter might have seen in the Central Australian desert such as scorpions, bilbies and bearded dragons. Mark the cave that he sheltered in and the reef with gold ‘as thick as plums in a pudding’.
  • Have students' peers interpret the symbols and the Cartographers intent
  • Discuss who was Harold Lasseter. Read excerpts from Lasseter’s Last Ride to the class. Ask:
    • Why do you think Harold Lasseter kept a diary?
    • What is special (important) about it today?
    • How do you think he feels about us reading his diary?
    • List the characters in the story. Who are the goodies and the baddies in the story?
    • Does Lasseter’s diary contain an imaginary map to the reef or did he really find a reef of gold in the desert? Why is the diary so special and important today?


If you found an old diary with a map to a reef of gold would you follow it?

Follow the glint of gold to El Dorado