|131. INVISIBLE INK.|
|"The Bank Manager said, I refuse to hand the documents over".|
|Bailey. J. The History of Lasseter's Reef. 6.|
This entry begins on Saturday morning, 14th of June 1930 when Lasseter left an envelope containing secret instructions and directions to the reef in the safe custody of the Bank of Australia, Martin Place, Sydney. This envelope was only to be opened on his safe return to Sydney...or his death. The latter was reported from Hermannsburg on 24/4/31 and confirmed the following day. The Bailey's wasted no time in claiming that envelope, only to be rebuffed by the bank officials, they were not convinced of Heinrich's status as Assistant Coroner in Central Australia or Bob Buck as citizen, no death certificate had been sighted and there were insurance implications.
It was time for Bailey senior to exercise some of his considerable influence and on his way to the Supreme Court his parting remark to the bank Manager about the niceties of Death Certificates, "we want to find him before he is dead if possible", was probably genuine and hastened the Court's instruction that the letter be opened by the Public Trustee in the presence of interested parties. There is no record of Bailey's reaction to the contents of the envelope, it would not have been mild and confirmed what he had already suspected, he and the shareholders had been well and truly duped.
The Sydney Guardian reported on 26/6/31 that, "discrepancies were noticed, and a closer examination of the secret document was made, when faint markings were noticed but could not be deciphered". A Detective Sergeant Thompson of the C. I. B. examined the document and confirmed that a common invisible ink had been used to make the faint markings and gave instructions for the treatment of the paper. "As a result a second set of directions was brought to light. These directions agreed substantially with the visible record". The visible record, whatever it may have been, has never been established, despite several hundred searches and a couple of dozen books. The Guardian also notes a vital difference in compass variation between Lasseter's and Harding's instruments at Carnarvon in 1900. Bailey knew that he had come to a dead end, Compass variations without reference points are useless.
The Baileys and C.A.G.E. then went into damage control and the Company having nothing finite to peg claimed exploration rights over vast tracts of Lasseter Country and the search for the reef continued under Bob Buck. Nothing was found except a number of mining pegs and Lasseter's Diary, both of doubtful authenticity. Lasseter's secret directions to the exact location of the reef had now become faint markings written in invisible ink that agreed substantially with the visible record, subject to compass variation. I suppose one would use invisible ink to give directions to an invisible reef. And Lasseter's secret document cannot be located, it is not in the Mitchell Library and it may well have been nothing more or less than a blank sheet of paper for Lasseter had no directions to give. The most extensive record of the incident is the Guardians interview of John Bailey and that is a very unsubstantial record.
Assuming that Bailey and the Guardian have reported the incident completely and without embellishment then Lasseter appears to have maintained either the lie or the delusion to the end, Delusion is the more believable reason for continuing the farce aided by a healthy dose of Bailey's gold fever. If the secret document was a deliberate hoax on Lasseter's part then the reason can only be as a cover for his intended disappearance and that doesn't mean perishing in Central Australia.
On page 95 of Dream Millions, Blakeley records a cryptic remark allegedly made by Lasseter as he sighted the sun from the top of Mount Marjorie, "Well, I'm damned, if these figures are not the same as we left sealed up in the vault of the bank in Sydney". Even at this late stage Lasseter is apparently maintaining the lie, knowing that he does not have a reef to go to, why continue the farce and place the Expedition on the wrong side of the Amadeus basin if it was always his intention to travel to the Petermanns. At this point Blakeley's last doubts have disappeared and he is convinced that Lasseter is nothing more or less than a common fraud. Blakeley's is a fair question, why travel all the way to Mount Marjorie to take bearings on features 150 miles miles away, possibly the Petermanns, why isn't the Expedition there in the first place?
© R.Ross. 1999-2006
Idriess. Ion. L. Lasseter's Last Ride. 4. Stapleton. Austin. Lasseter did not Lie. 26,27. Hubbard Murray. The Search for Harold Lasseter. 193-195. Marshall-Stoneking. Billy. Lasseter-the Making of a Legend. 22,23. Blakeley, Fred. Dream Millions. 95. Bailey, John. The Bailey Papers. Mitchell Library MLA 3034, Item6.