93. FIGHT in the DESERT.
"if I called him a liar I would have to fight him".
COOTE, Errol. H. Hell's Airport. 232. 

Chapter twelve of Lasseter's Last Ride is titled "The Fight in the Desert", and gives a brief and imaginative account of Lasseter's and John's travels from Illbilla to Mount Olga and then west to the Petermann Ranges. Apparently it was a difficult journey, exacerbated by flooding rain that bogged the camels and forced Lasseter to push on alone to the reef on foot. A couple of days later he returned with, "several sample bags of stones", and the story that he had rediscovered his reef.

According to Johns as related by Coote, Lasseter refused to show him the specimens from the reef and as for its location, "he told me such an absurd story that I called him a liar", it was this accusation that precipitated, 'The Fight in the Desert'. It was lunch time and Lasseter responded to the accusation by throwing a plate of tinned fruit in Johns face, who drew his revolver. The men grappled over the weapon and during the struggle Lasseter's thumb was caught in the hammer, but he managed to disarm Johns and throw the revolver into the mulga.

They camped apart that night and next morning set out for Illbilla, arriving there about 29/10/30, from there Johns went on to Alice Springs via Hermannsburg, carrying those as yet unsighted letters of instruction from Lasseter. Pastor Albrecht recalls Johns arrival at the Mission sometime in early November 1930 and as the Pastor was a Justice of the Peace, Johns asked him to take care of, "a new .44 rifle I have taken it from Lasseter". Asked to elaborate, Johns recounted the arduous journey from Illbilla to the Petermanns and return, it was while resting at a supply dump near Lake Amadeus that Johns accused Lasseter of marking time while his Lawyer in Sydney, collected ten pounds per week on his behalf. Lasseter reacted to the insinuation by throwing a handful of prune stones in his face, Johns drew his revolver and disarmed Lasseter of the rifle without the histrionics of Idriess.

Johns continued his journey to Alice Springs and told a dissimilar story to Coote, varying in location and reaction, nevertheless he is consistent in the specific cause of the altercation, Lasseter's motives and veracity were questioned and he reacted in the expected liverish Lasseter manner.


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Albrecht F. W. On Lasseter's Trail 5. Coote E. H. Hell's Airport 232,233. Idriess Ion L Lasseter's Last Ride 101,102.