|"Who do you think took your mug? he demanded belligerently".|
With reference to the common drinking utensil and not to certain members of the expedition; a potentially nasty incident occurred at the last camp before the expedition reached Illbila, There are two first hand accounts of the arguments and threats that erupted over Lasseter's missing mug, and being aware that Blakeley kept no daily record and Coote appears to have done so, then it is mildly surprising to find both writers agree regarding the location and more or less the timing of the incident. as expected Blakeley and Coote put a different slant on who was involved and who resolved yet another argument with liverish Lasseter.
Lasseter had spent some time unsuccessfully searching the back of the Thornycroft for his mug and finally asked it's whereabouts, Blakeley, not having had a good day of it, read an insinuation in Lasseter's apparently innocent question, and his sharp response led to uproar. Amongst the hot words Lasseter threatened to walk back to Alice Springs and reform the Company, after he had first settled with Blakeley. Coote mentions that with Sutherland's backing he defused the situation by finding Lasseter's pannikin, and reminding him that his threat to walk back was ridiculous, "You can't do that. There's only one way traffic on this road".
Blakeley agrees that the argument initially began between himself and Lasseter over a missing mug, and was becoming heated when Sutherland calmed the situation by reminding Blakeley, "To look out, it's only liver. So I did not reply" to Lasseter's nagging. Blakeley hoped that the matter would rest there, "but Errol promptly chipped in, and in ten seconds, there were hot words flying", having already decided that Lasseter was not quite sane and prepared to make allowances, Blakeley was disgusted at Coote's behaviour, the pilot, "completely lost his head, and said things that were childish and there was some hot talk of guns".
The incident confirmed Blakeley's view that neither Lasseter or Coote were temperamentally fit for the rigours of bush living and "these two were always just on the edge of a blow-up", he defused the acrimonious slanging match by ordering all hands to load up and taking Lasseter, set off on foot to find Illbila aerodrome; Coote has himself and Blakeley finding the landing ground and Idriess makes no mention of the incident.
© R.Ross. 1999-2006