This week’s best book I am going to have to hand to Craig. Every bookseller loves to find an Ion Idriess, as much as the collectors. Fittingly discovered on a hellishly long exploration of the countryside, (thankfully in a car and not on camels) Craig was trying to show me this while I was absorbed in a pile of dusty old kid’s books and kept impatiently waving him away.
This particular book, Lasseter’s Last Ride, is Idriess’s second book. Harold Bell Lasseter was, briefly, an Australian explorer who claimed to have found a huge gold reef in the desert, somewhere between Western Australia and The Northern Territory. In 1930 he had raised enough money to fund an expedition, and set off in search of the reef. After being abandoned as a madman by his crew, and then his camels, he never returned.
His remains, along with a diary, were discovered by Bob Buck in March of 1931, with Lasseter thought to have perished around the end of January. His ‘diary’ revealed that he had lived among Aborigines for several months in the Petermann Ranges and had most likely died of starvation.
Angus and Robertson purchased the diary and then commissioned Ion L. Idriess to write the book. This was first published in 1931, and has been reprinted many times. The diary can be viewed here
‘What good a reef worth millions? I would give it all for a loaf of bread.’
Recorded in the diary before his death beside a remote Northern Territory creek bed.