|251. SOUTH WEST JOURNEY the.|
|"once we started on our south west course I reckoned up each night how we stood".|
|Blakeley. F. Dream Millions. 130.|
Blakeley was a very troubled leader after Lasseter announced at Mount Marjorie that the Expedition was 150 miles too far north of the landmarks that would indicate the location of the reef. Blakeley and Sutherland discussed Lasseter's story yet again' and noted the growing list of inconsistencies in his account. The men concluded that Lasseter would probably use the excuse of not trusting Blakeley or Colson to explain away the vagrancies in the location of the reef. After some agonising Blakeley agreed, "to see this a hundred and fifty miles south stunt through ~ When I decided to go on with the game I was in a much better frame of mind". Blakeley decided to return to Illbilla and try to find a way south from there.
The south west journey got under way within thirty minutes of Coote and Hall leaving Illbilla in the Golden Quest II on 04/09/30, The Expedition now down to four men, Blakeley, Sutherland, Taylor and Lasseter, initially travelled around the north of the Ehrenberg Range to a point about four miles west of the aerodrome then turned south west following Lasseter's sketch plan that he drawn earlier in the day during the flight with Hall. It was a very difficult afternoons travelling, starting with matting the heavily laden Thornycroft away from the airstrip, followed by rough country close to the range and then almost impassable salt bush plains. Blakeley reckoned that the sixteen miles travelled that day were the hardest on the Expedition, "but we were all fresh and bucked into it", although it was a subdued camp that night, "lights were out early".
According to Blakeley the Expedition was on the track for nearly a week before, "We lose count of the days",. The title of chapter 24 in Dream Millions is not reassuring to the researcher and more or less confirms that the leader of the first C.A.G.E. Expedition did not keep a daily log book and no field notes. The Expedition ran the usual gamut of sandhills and punctured tyres and ended at Lasseter's Lookout, correctly known as Johnston Hill on 6/9/30, three days after leaving Illbilla. The next day was Sunday the seventh of September and the men made it a rest day. After viewing the impassable obstacle of the Big Breakaway the men realised that this was truly the end of the track for the first C.A.G.E. Expedition.
Blakeley had no real idea where he was when at Lasseter's Lookout, by his reckoning the Expedition was 150 miles from Illbilla, thus placing them south of the Petermann Ranges in the Pottoyu Hills and he makes a point of confirming that the night before Lasseter had calculated the Expedition were 150 to 160 air miles from Illbilla. Blakeley's is the only written record of the South West journey and one wonders if he had bothered to check the maps when writing the manuscript to Dream Millions seven years later. Maps by Finlayson, Terry and McKay would have quickly shown the impossibility of distances travelled during this trip which ended at Lasseter's Lookout and went no further.
It was only the agreement waiting to be signed by Paul Johns at Illbilla on 13/9/30 that stops Blakeley and Clacherty driving the Expedition off the map. Clacherty in his book, 'On Lasseter's Trail', places the Big Breakaway and Lasseter's Lookout in the vicinity of the Mu Hills over the border in Western Australia, Navigating by the records of Blakeley and Idriess is not recommended. The Expedition turned north east for Illbilla on 8/9/30 and made a leisurely return to the base, arriving there on 11/9/30.
© R.Ross. 1999-2006