Lasseter's Gold

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Warren Brown
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Is there a field of gold lying in the Australian outback, where nuggets are 'as thick as plums in a pudding'? When Harold Bell Lasseter disappeared it could have been the end of a mystery that began the day he staggered out of the desert at the turn of the 20th century, almost dead, his pockets bulging with gold, claiming to have found a 15 kilometre gold reef. It was mystery that deepened when he and a surveyor returned to the isolated and mysterious Petermann Ranges where the reef was supposed to be located - and couldn't find it. It became legendary when the largest inland expedition since Burke and Wills was launched and, from the start, like Burke and Wills, was doomed because the partners only had one thing in common: greed. In LASSETER'S GOLD, Warren Brown vividly recreates the drama of the search - the characters, the fights, the soaring temperatures, the impossible terrain, the plane crash, the pistol-carrying dingo-skinner who appeared out of nowhere. He also asks just who was this man Lasseter? A one-time sailor, a bigamist, a man who claimed John Bradfield stole his plans for a single span bridge to cross Sydney Harbour - was he also a very, very good liar? The entries in Lasseter's diaries suggest he did find the gold, but that by then it was too late. The expedition had finished, he was alone and what he needed was food. Or did he? Was the body they found even his? What did happen to his vast, lost treasure? Did it ever exist? Does it still exist? LASSETER'S GOLD is the gripping story of an outback legend, a myth and, perhaps, a field of gold - there for the taking?

In 1929, Lasseter wrote to Government ministers about a fabulously rich reef of gold in Central Australia, which he claimed to have found in 1911. This approach to obtain funding was unsuccessful. Lasseter's Gold deserves to be made into a feature film and would make for an edgy outback noir.

Lasseter believed he found vast reefs of gold in Central Australia. During the Depression he persuaded people to fund an expedition but the expedition went seriously wrong and he died in the Petermann Ranges. Lewis Hubert Lasseter (1880-1931), gold-seeker, was born on 27 September 1880 at Bamganie, near Meredith, Victoria, second son of English parents William John Lasseter, labourer, and his wife Agnes, née Cruickshank.