44. C.A.G.E.

"it was unanimously decided to form a company to send out an expedition to investigate Lasseter's Reef".
Bailey, John. The History of Lasseter's Reef.2.

The common acronym for the Central Australian Gold Exploration Company Limited. The Company was formed in the era when Directors didn't have to say too much about their sources of finance or tell the shareholders, much less the public, how the Company funds were being spent. Hence the scant record of the formation of the Company, it's administration or details of the shareholders and I can't help thinking that's the way John Bailey, the Chairman of C.A.G.E. preferred it. In 1947 the former Chairman, perhaps with an eye on history's judgment, bequeathed a number of personal papers to the Mitchell Library including the "Balance sheet of the Central Australian Gold Exploration Company Ltd, 30 Sept. 1932" and a monologue, "The History of Lasseter's Reef".

According to Bailey  it was sometime in June 1930 when Lasseter walked into his office and announced, "I have a proposition for you Mr. Bailey" and told the now famous story of the missing gold reef. Lasseter's yarn was interesting enough for the President of the Central Branch of the Australian Workers Union to investigate mining records in Canberra, discuss the possibilities amongst friends and arrange for Fred Blakeley to test Lasseter's veracity one Saturday afternoon. After the interview with Lasseter, Blakeley reported to John Bailey that Lasseter's proposition was worth investigation and he would be "delighted" to lead an expedition to test Lasseter's claims.

As far as Bailey was concerned this was confirmation of Lasseter's story and he, "took steps to convene a meeting of my friends to hear my report ~There were over fifty persons present", at the meeting which must have taken place before the end of May 1930. The nominal capital was set at 20,000 in one pound shares, articles of the proposed Company were agreed to, in short to search for any minerals and potential grazing country in Central Australia, Company officers were appointed and members of the Expedition named.

Fred Blakeley as leader of the Expedition sent out by the Company, "to investigate Lasseter's Reef" has very little to say about the foundation of the C.A.G.E., "I lost track of this side of the Company's affairs", He initially thought that 300 Pounds would fund the search for the reef and he was prepared to put in 50 himself. An informal meeting of syndicate members decided that 300 was insufficient and, "a company should be formed with 1000 capital made up of 20 shares, no person to have more than one share". The response from the public was enthusiastic and it was soon decided to formalise a Company named Central Australian Gold Exploration Company Limited with 5000 capital, still with the proviso of one share per person.

It's not clear whether Coote and Burlington arrived on the scene before or after the formation of C.A.G.E. but Blakeley makes the interesting comment, "Then two very live wires came into help, Errol Coote and Mr. Charles Lexius-Burlington, and things fairly hummed". The 'live wire' Coote adds some detail and the clear statement that he was involved in the Company's formation long before Fred Blakeley was, "brought in to question Lasseter", In fact he was present when Bailey first interviewed Lasseter and in discussions immediately afterwards he and Ern Bailey planned ways and means of raising the funds to search for the reef, "Well the Old Man (John Bailey) has a fair circle of people who will put cash into the show on his say-so", with that and word of mouth, Coote and Bailey decided that if one hundred people, "put in twenty pounds each we will have enough to finance an expedition". Coote mentions that none of the founders of the Company had any experience in company promotion and many, "blunders were made", he does not elaborate on the mistakes  or consequences, but makes the point that the Company was raised and financed, "without resorting to the aid of stock brokers and share salesmen".

Coote does not give the date of the inaugural meeting where the name of the Company and it's charter was formalised, except that it was at 5.00 p.m and a "bumper affair". John Bailey was elected Chairman of Directors and the other elected Directors were, Thomas Holloway, David Yaffa, William J. S. Carroll, William Couldwell, John Jenkins and Horace Paine. "Now we will get down to business as soon as we have appointed a Secretary, declared the Chairman. His son, Ernest H. Bailey, was promptly elected to the position", the positions were honorary. In a rush of magnanimity that he would later regret Bailey declared that, "Every shareholder will be virtually a director",  As events turned out they were virtually honorary shareholders too. The share list was opened and soon oversubscribed. "Money poured in.~ In half an hour over 2,000 was subscribed. ~ By lunch time the next day well over 3000 was in hand, The expedition would not be long in moving off now".

Idriess gives the Company's formation a few brief paragraphs, mentioning that 5000 was raised in a few hours and the Directors and Secretary, "would receive no remuneration for services rendered", The objectives of the Company were to find Lasseter's Reef or any other mineral deposits and suitable pastoral country.

The balance sheet shows the paid up capital as 8053 in one pound shares. The cost of the first expedition was 4242/12/9, the second expedition lead by Bob Buck, 2477/17/3, investigations into other mining interests, 591/17/8, Sundry expenses 833/10/1. The Central Australian Gold Exploration Company Ltd formally closed its books on the 30th of September 1932 with nineteen pounds and eight shillings in the bank and no dividend to the shareholders.


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Bailey, John. The History of Lasseter's Reef.2 (Mitchell Library ML A2753).  Blakeley, Fred. Dream Millions.4,5. Coote, E. H. Hell's Airport. 34,35,38,40,42,44,45,46. Idriess, Ion. L. Lasseter's Last Ride. 3,4.