185. MOUNT CONNOR.
"Taylor might have mistaken Mount Connor for Ayers Rock".
IDRIESS 106. 

 

Located at 13154'E-25º30'S. on the Ayers Rock sheet, SG52-8. This striking table topped mesa of dense quartzite was discovered by surveyor and explorer William Christie Gosse during his unsuccessful attempt to cross from Alice Springs to Perth in 1873. He named the mount after Mr. M. L. Connor, a South Australian member of parliament. The Aboriginal names are Atula or Artilla and are associated with some of the most fearsome of the Ancestral Beings of Aboriginal lore, the Ninya or Ice men.

Coote arrived over Ayers Rock on 28/10/30 expecting to find Taylor and camp well established, there was no sign of Taylor or Paddy Tucker's large camel team and no evidence they had been there. Thinking the ground party may have mistaken the Mount for the Rock, Coote flew to Mount Connor and circled the area without sighting the men. He decided that it would be unlikely for Taylor to confuse the two features, "Mount Connor is covered with grass, top and sides, while Ayers Rock is as bare as glass". Low on fuel, Coote returned to Ayers Rock and Hell's Airport.

But Taylor did confuse Mount Connor with Ayers Rock, and only discovered his mistake when he climbed the mountain to get his bearings on 5/11/30, and sighted the correct destination about 60 miles away to the west north west. Taylor alleged his navigation was not helped by misleading instructions from Middleton Ponds or the maps of the area.

Considering he was already many days overdue at Ayers Rock, the extra couple of days lost in travelling via Mount Connor, were at the worst another inconvenience. In his 1964 letter to the Lutheran Almanac, Pastor Albrecht reckoned that Coote landed at Mount Connor and briefly met Taylor there for an unstated purpose. The Pastor does not draw an inference or mention a motive for this risky side venture, and Paddy Tucker who climbed the mountain with Taylor does not mention the incident.

Unless one believes in conspiracy theories regarding Lasseter's disappearance, (as Bullion is inclined to do) then Coote has no reason to land at Mount Connor. At the time of the pilots arrival there, Taylor was about nine days away, possibly floundering through the sodden mulga flats to the north of the Basedow Range. Again, perhaps the trusting Pastor has been too ready to accept as fact the furphys emanating from Middleton Ponds.

LASSETERIA

R.Ross. 1999-2006

Albrecht F. W. On Lasseter's Trail 4. Coote E. H. Hell's Airport 200,201. Idriess Ion L. Lasseter's Last Ride 106.