187. MOUNT MARJORIE.

"I then drew his attention to Mount Marjorie ~ and he said that might be it".

Blakeley, F. Dream Millions. 82. 

 

Mount Marjorie, correctly known as Mount Leisler and  Yunytjunya to the Pintubi people, is located in the Kintore Range, a little over a hundred kilometres almost directly west of Illbilla and was the objective in 'The Big Push'. There is only Blakeley's erratic record in Dream Millions of what happened on the summit at noon on the 24th of August 1930. Blakeley and Lasseter had set out from their base camp at about 6.30 that morning, hoping to reach the summit by midday so that Lasseter could take noon bearings using his sextant and three watches as a time check. The eastern and northern cliffs were unclimable and gave the men a few dangerous moments in the attempt. Eventually the summit was reached from the western side by late morning. "The view was something I shall always remember, it was a brilliantly clear day and visibility was unlimited", wrote Blakeley. The aneroid barometer showed a rise of 2000 feet.

Blakeley does not mention viewing the landscape through binoculars, although he thought he could see the Petermann Ranges some 200 miles away to the south, remarkable eyesight, and Lake Macdonald thirty miles off and a very large mountain about sixty miles to the north, Blakeley of course had no clear idea of his whereabouts. While he was enjoying the immense view Lasseter was busy preparing his instruments to 'shoot the sun' and at noon called Blakeley's attention to the sextant. Blakeley studied the unfamiliar instrument for a few moments and wondered what he was supposed to see, Lasseter explained, "You'll see half the sun", Blakeley acknowledged that, but was none the wiser as Lasseter continued his calculations, "after his shot with the sextant".

Working out the bearings and locations took Lasseter some time, probably preparing himself for Blakeley's reaction, he finally announced, "well I'm damned if these figures are not the same as those we left sealed up in the vault of the bank in Sydney". This left Blakeley with the impression that Harding and Lasseter had taken their year 1900 bearings to the reef from the top of Mount Marjorie. Lasseter's explanation confused Blakeley further and the error in the watches in relation to the original bearings had to be taken into account. What had been an error of one hour and fifteen minutes during the Sydney interviews Lasseter now calculated to be an error of an hour and thirty one minutes from the top of Mount Marjorie. There was no clear reason for the difference except that Lasseter's suspicions of Colson had something to do with it. Justifiably suspicious himself, Blakeley questioned Lasseter further, it transpired that it was Lasseter's intention from the outset to get to a high point near Lake Macdonald, "to put myself right", presumably in relation to his original bearings and the reef.

By now it was obvious to Blakeley that Mount Marjorie had no bearing on the reef whatsoever and now that Lasseter had put himself right, Blakeley asked what he intended to do next. "I want to get a hundred and fifty miles further south", was the reply. There has been a lot of speculation as to Blakeley's reaction to this astounding disclosure, and Marshall-Stoneking gives a plausible scenario, the thought of giving Lasseter a good thrashing possibly crossed Blakeley's mind, but violence didn't happen. According to Blakeley a reasoned but unsatisfactory discussion followed, he pointed out to Lasseter that 150 miles further south was the Petermanns and over 22 expeditions had already combed that country without result. Perhaps Lasseter meant 150 miles to the north in the vicinity of the Tanami and Granites where the colour of gold had already been found, Lasseter recalculated but no, "it's south right enough", it's a wonder Blakeley remained civil even with the pen.

Over a tinned lunch of Queensland pineapple Blakely grilled Lasseter, "your story does not knit up together", he referred to the uncertain distance from Carnarvon to the reef, in Sydney it was about five to six hundred miles west, but 150 mile south to the Petermanns would make the reef some 900 miles west of Carnarvon and that area had been thoroughly prospected with no luck, and no camel he knew of had crossed the breakaway country that lay between Mount Marjorie and the Petermanns. We have to take Blakeley's word for it, but Lasseter then admitted to a 'slight' deception, "because another member of the party made me suspicious so I told little bits to mislead you and I want you to trust me a little longer".

Lasseter wanted to know how long before the hot weather set in, Blakeley reckoned another six weeks, "well, give me that much time, for I am quite sure I will have enough indication by then to convince you that this is not a dream yarn". Blakeley was now beyond convincing, yet in the manner of an ace up his sleeve, Lasseter produced a map and indicated some hills named the Three Sisters, "that is where I want to go for I am sure I can relocate myself once I get there". Enough was enough, it was time to return to the vehicle.

They descended the mountain by the southern side and on the way down discovered a cave with numerous fresh footprints on the floor and later what Blakeley thought were two Aboriginal graves, he had the uncomfortable feeling they were being watched. A couple of weary men met Taylor with the waterbag along the track and Blakeley turned in early, rolling the doubts over in his mind. Lasseter disturbed his reverie by asking if he remembered the figures from the sun shoot as he had lost the page from his notebook. Blakeley couldn't help and the doubts piled up when Lasseter said, "that's a darn nuisance, for it means I shall have to go out again tomorrow and take the reading again".  

Next morning Lasseter, Taylor and Micky set off for a hill about three miles from the camp for a new sextant reading, of course Blakeley wondered why yesterdays dangerous and exhausting climb was necessary, and during Lasseter's absence took the opportunity to go over Lasseter's story with Sutherland. They thrashed it out in detail and noted the numerous slips and inconsistencies in his various stories, they finally decided that Lasseter was likely to tell them any yarn and it would be difficult to prove otherwise. After discussing the situation with Sutherland for most of the day Blakeley, "decided to go on with the game".

Blakeley appears to be the only traveller to use the name Mount Marjorie for the long time named Mount Leisler, and again one wonders what map if any, Blakeley was using during the Expedition. The best that can be deduced is from Tietkens 1889 map, where Giles former, Second in Command, renames the Ehrenberg Range, the Magarey Range, after Mr. A. T. Magarey, Secretary of the Royal Geographic Society (S.A.) Mr. Magarey was honored a second time by the 1894 Horn Expedition with Mount Magarey in southern central Australia. Navigation was not Blakeley's forte, he never understood the real flaw in Lasseter's story atop Mount Marjorie, watches or chronometers of any accuracy are quite unnecessary in determining latitude, and it was 150 miles further south that Lasseter wanted to travel, not one hundred and fifty miles east or west, then he would need a timepiece to help determine his longitude.

LASSETERIA

R.Ross. 1999-2006

Blakeley, Fred. Dream Millions. 92-102. Idriess, Ion. L. Lasseter's Last Ride.46,53,54. Marshall-Stoneking, Billy. Lasseter-the Making of a Legend. 62-68.