71. DAVID, Sir Edgeworth.  

"No doubt there is gold in that area".

Errol Coote, Hell's Airport. 47.

Several members of the First C.A.G.E. Expedition had the pleasure of meeting Australia's pre eminent Geologist of the era, Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David, his was a household name throughout the land and held in the highest regard by the scientific community world wide, and accessible to all. Sir Edgeworth, as he was usually known, had clearly demonstrated the value of geology by discovering vast coal resources and provided sound geological evidence to support Darwin's controversial theories. He was a successful Antarctic explorer, being a member of the team to conquer Mount Erebus and leader of the expedition to the South Magnetic Pole where he planted the flag and claimed Victoria Land for Britain in January 1909. When he enlisted with the First A.I.F. in 1915, he was possibly the oldest Major in the Australian Army, he served with distinction at the Western Front and on General Haig's Staff. Sir Edgeworth was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1920.

When Charles Lexius Burlington and Errol Coote met Sir Edgeworth in late May 1930, he was working on his opus magnum, a map with explanatory notes and book on the geology of Australia, a vast project that was not completed in his lifetime. Lexius Burlington had arranged the meeting to learn something of the country the Expedition would be travelling through and to secure the services of a geology or surveying student. According to Coote, Sir Edgeworth was enthusiastic about the possibilities and was in no doubt that gold would be found in the area, on his map he intended to show similar geology running east from the Kalgoorlie goldfields to the borders of Central and Western Australia. Sir Edgeworth couldn't recommend a suitable undergraduate to accompany the Expedition, pointing out that most of his geology students were female and while their company was always desirable, a young lady on this expedition would be inadvisable. Coote missed the point, Sir Edgeworth would not encourage any of his students to travel with this lot, the unsavoury reputation of many of those involved in C.A.G.E already widely known.

A few days after this meeting, during farewell ceremonies for the Governor General, Lord Stonehaven, Sir Edgeworth happened to be seated at the same table as Captain Blakiston Houston. The Captain expressed his regret at not having seen anything of Central Australia before returning to England when Sir Edgeworth mentioned his recent meeting with Lexius Burlington and Coote and how the Company was looking for a Geologist or Surveyor to assist the Expedition, he gave the Captain the name and address of the Company Secretary, Ern Bailey and suggested Blakiston Houston get in touch. Much to the Captains surprise he was immediately signed on as the Expeditions 'Explorer'.

Shortly after he returned from the failed First C.A.G.E. Expedition Fred Blakeley met Sir Edgeworth on board H.M.A.S. Australia. Both men were guests of Admiral Evans. Blakely was aboard to receive a heartfelt thanks from the Admiral for returning a precious book on navigation and of course Sir Edgeworth was present to hear first hand why gold hadn't been found in Lasseter Country. According to Blakeley he answered many questions and gave a brief description of the country travelled through, he finished his lecture with, "I was sorry to say that there would be no big reef, as Lasseter was only chasing a dream.". Sir Edgeworth made no comment. His map and notes were published in 1932 and received favourable reviews, the area between Kalgoorlie and the central Australian borderlands was left uncoloured, geology unknown.


R.Ross. 1999-2009

F. Blakeley, Dream Millions. 171,172. F. E. Baume, Tragedy Track. 15,155. E. H. Coote, Hell's Airport. 47,48. Australian Dictionary of Biography, David, Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth (1858 - 1934). National Archives Australia, TITLE, David Tannatt William Edgeworth. SERIES No. B2455. C/S, DAVID T W E. B/C, 3490152.