185A. MOUNT CURDIE.
"should you again find nothing return to the gap at Bowley's range and go to Mount Curdie".
Part of Philip Taylor's letter of instruction to Bob Buck, Hermannsburg 19/02/31. Lasseter's Last Ride. Idriess, Ion. L. 242,243. 

 

Mount Curdie is another Petermann landmark named by Ernest Giles during his 1874 traverse of the ranges, and the "high cone in the range", should have been Bob Buck's fourth check point in the search for Harold Lasseter; had he followed Philip Taylor's instructions to the letter. Mount Curdie is located in the Curdie Range at lat. 25 03, long. 129 25, less than three miles south east of Lasseter's Cave on the southern bank of the Hull River. If Buck had proceeded on his quest, "with all possible haste", and heeded his specific instructions, then he should have been in the Mount Curdie area by the second week of March 1931, perhaps in time to rescue Lasseter from his cave, if one accepts the authenticity of Lasseter's '78 Day Letter'.

By chance Buck arrived in the vicinity of Mount Curdie and Lasseter's Cave in early June 1931, as guide to Walter Gill's expedition in search of the then little known Pitjantjatjara. On the afternoon of June the second, Buck created an awkward historical moment for himself, somewhere between the headwaters of Louise Creek and Mount Fagan Buck admitted to Gill that he was in "strange country", Gill elaborated, "This afternoon we reached a point further west than at any stage on his previous journey". Fortunately for Buck, Walter Gill's excellent journal of the expedition was not published until 1968, eight years after Buck's death, thirty years earlier and Buck would have to answer some very awkward questions from the Bailey's and shareholders of C.A.G.E. and in particular, V. G. Carrington, Government Resident and Coroner for Central Australia during the Lasseter saga. 

Mount Fagan is about ten miles east southeast of Mount Curdie and a mornings camel stage  to the northwest in mid March 1931 would have seen Buck at Lasseter's cave, and again on the 3rd of June when he and Gill crossed the headwaters of the Hull River, on this occasion, due to a misunderstanding on the direction of the mornings march, Buck may have come to within a mile of the cave. Two days later Gill and Buck recrossed the Hull on the northern side of the Curdie Range and Gill's quest was satisfied, they fell in with a party of over a hundred Pitjantjatjara and camped with the natives for four days. And it seems strange indeed, that despite several days of friendly relations with the Aboriginals, and having excellent interpreters in Buttons and Johnson Breaden, no mention was made of Lasseter's Cave, now an hours camel ride to the southwest of the camp. It is most unlikely that these Aboriginals were ignorant of Lasseter's travails and his refuge on the Hull River. Perhaps Buck censored translation and transmission of information to Gill.

Buck paid his third visit to the Mount Curdie area in October 1931, as leader of the second C.A.G.E. Expedition, and finally arrived at Lasseter's Cave and unearthed that controversial diary. Later editions of Lasseter's Last Ride that include Philip Taylor's letter of instruction, may or may not have caused Buck some embarrassment, but many would now question his bushcraft when it took him five chances and opportunities to locate Lasseter's Cave, especially when Torrington Blatchford, the Government accredited geologist on the second expedition,  reported that, "we consider that we followed all over Lasseter's tracks up to the spot where he perished".         

LASSETERIA


R.Ross. 1999-2007

Giles, Ernest. Australia Twice Traversed. Chap. 29.   Gill, Walter. Petermann Journey. 98, 107-151.