209. PERISH.

"The whole party had been exposed to the grave risk of perishing".


There's a sense of black humour in the use of the phrase, 'to perish' or 'to do a perish' when attributing death in the outback to starvation, thirst or exposure. Lasseter's Death Certificate, signed by V. G. Carrington on 09/05/31, shows the cause of death as starvation, but in the local idiom, Lasseter perished.

Finlayson elaborates a little more in his thoroughly readable book, 'The Red Centre', "To 'perish', is to die by weathering, and like gutta percha, men lose elasticity in the change, and the end product is known far and wide as a stiff un". Bob Buck did not find a 'stiff un' when he buried Lasseter on 29/03/31, but as he relates to Walter Gill at Hermannsburg in early May, "I just dug a hole an' poured th' poor bastard in".

Of course if Buck did find a 'stiff un' then the body's condition may confirm death in late January 1931, otherwise the state of the putrescent body indicates death perhaps a matter of days before Buck's morbid discovery.


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Blakeley Fred Dream Millions 173.   Fearn-Wannan  Australian Folklore 412,413.   Finlayson H. H. The Red Centre 145.  Gill Walter Petermann Journey 12.