162. LEADERS of the C.A.G.E. Expeditions.
"The prospecting party chosen were Fred Blakeley, leader;.


Many commentators have cited Lasseter as leader of the first C.A.G.E. expedition. It's on the record of course that Fred Blakeley was the leader of this expedition from June to 13/9/30. He resigned the position immediately Paul Johns was signed on to guide Lasseter to the Petermann Ranges. Up to this point Blakeley considered it his responsibility to get Lasseter to the reef and as far as he was concerned that arrangement ended the moment Johns and Lasseter signed a new agreement, besides he had no expedition to lead.

Blakeley's suspicions about Coote's ambitions were confirmed when he returned to Alice Springs on 28/9/30. Mail from the 'Sydney Crowd' had placed Coote in charge of the Company's affairs and the ex leader made the caustic observation to the new manager, "You seem to have been working fast ~ Anyway that is the position you have been itching for all along, for not once have you complied with the company's agreement"
"In what way?" he inquired.
"By not recognising me as leader

Coote was only too pleased to assume the role of Leader of the expedition, now down to two men and a plane, probably from 23/9/30 when Ern Bailey wired him at Oodnadatta and asked him to find Lasseter. The pilot mismanaged the Company's affairs in Central Australia until John Bailey sacked him on 10/11/30 for incompetence and his own safety.

This left Philip Taylor as the Company's sole representative in the field, and he endured considerable hardship and the Baileys long distance management until 19/02/31, when illness forced him to commission Bob Buck to continue the search. Buck's commission to find Lasseter and hopefully the reef ended on his return to Hermannsburg on 24/04/31 when he reported Lasseter's fate.

This search is occasionally confused with the second C.A.G.E expedition that was in the field during October/November 1931. This expedition with the same haphazard objectives and mismanagement as the first, was in charge of that, "notable Centralian bushman, Bob Buck". Naturally the results were negative and for the same reasons, an impossible objective and dissension in the ranks, one could not imagine a more unlikely leader than Bob Buck…or Blakeley…or Coote!

And while he may have had a Napoleonic view of himself, at no time was Lasseter leader of any part of the first expedition, John Bailey would never allow that, Lasseter was signed on as guide, at five pounds a week.


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Albrecht F. W. On Lasseter's Trail 2. Blakely Fred Dream Millions 5,161,162. Coote E. H. Hell's Airport 43,171-173. Marshall-Stoneking, Lasseter the Making of a Legend. 39.