National Library of Australia

Harold Lasseter’s diary

Harold Lasseter (1880–1931)Diary 1931manuscript; 19.0 x 12.5cmMitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Harold Lasseter’s diary

Before his death beside a remote Northern Territory creek bed, Harold Lasseter wrote in his diary: ‘What good a reef worth millions? I would give it all for a loaf of bread.’

Lasseter (1880–1931) had been trying to rediscover a 16-kilometre reef of gold that he claimed contained gold ‘as thick as plums in a pudding’, worth £60 million, somewhere between the Ehrenberg and Petermann ranges, west of Uluru, in Central Australia.

In 1930, Lasseter set off on an expedition funded by the Australian Workers’ Union. His behaviour grew progressively more eccentric. A series of accidents, rough terrain and no sign of the reef eventually forced the men to abandon the search, but Lasseter carried on.

Lasseter was never seen again by Europeans.

His body was found several months later. His diary was in a cave—a poignant record of his lonely death and concern for his wife. It also revealed that he believed he had rediscovered his reef.

Subsequent efforts to find the reef have resulted in further deaths.

Was this Australia’s wildest goose chase? The answer still lies out there.

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