265. SYDNEY CROWD the.
|"I spent the rest of the evening writing out my report to the Sydney crowd; it was hot from the word go".|
|Blakeley, Fred. Dream Millions. 120.|
The 'Sydney Crowd' were the Directors and Shareholders of the Central Australian Gold Exploration Co. Ltd. based in Sydney, as Blakeley writes it they were the bane of his life while leader of the first C.A.G.E. Expedition. Especially the Baileys, the father and son team of Chairman and Secretary of C.A.G.E. who constantly interrupted Blakeley's preparations in Alice Springs with unnecessary and expensive telegrams with conflicting changes to plans and some chaffing from the Bailey's to get on with it! "These annoyed me very much as they all had to be replied to, and this burning of the telegraph wires was a costly matter". Blakeley was relived to get out of Alice Springs on 24/07/30 and at least temporarily incommunicado with the Bailey's.
Blakeley next heard from the 'Sydney Crowd' on the 2nd of August when Coote and Colson returned to Ai-Ai Creek in the Golden Quest with spare parts and mail, "which contained some more instructions from the Sydney office. These again proved the office's pitiful ignorance of our work and conditions". Blakeley does not elaborate and the instructions, whatever they were, did not delay progress to Illbilla, where the Expedition arrived on 7/08/30. The next mail from Sydney arrived on 12/08/30 when Colson again met the Expedition at Ai-Ai Creek after delivering the injured Coote to Alice Springs, "Fred handed me the mail ~There were lengthy telegrams with all the bunk in the world in them, for according to the Sydney crowd, half Australia was rushing to 'peg out' their claims before we got there". Blakeley and Colson considered the Bailey's fears to be nonsense, "Coote and the Sydney crowd were getting all hot and bothered about something they knew nothing about", and in his reply the Leader advised the Directors and Coote to forget the second plane, buy a couple of pairs of heavy walking boots and hire half a dozen fast riding camels, meanwhile the Expedition would push on west.
The next contact with Company headquarters was at Blakeley's initiative in response to Fred Colson's sacking and Coote's imminent arrival in a second plane. Colson met the Expedition at Derwent Creek on 29/08/30 with the news that caused Blakeley's blood to, "fairly boil for a while". The Company had arbitrarily terminated Colson's services and Blakeley sensed at Coote's instigation and the pilot, closer to communications in Alice Springs, had surreptitiously convinced the Company to buy another plane and that should arrive at the base camp on 2/09/30. Blakeley spent that evening penning a stiff "report to the Sydney crowd", pointing out that he had rehired Fred Colson and his sacking was irresponsible, the sooner headquarters, "recognised that I was leader and manager the better", Blakeley feels he is not entirely in charge of the Company's affairs in Central Australia.
Coote arrived at Illbilla with Pat Hall flying the Golden Quest II on the due date and carrying, "a heap of instructions from Sydney telling me what to do". According to Blakeley most of those instructions centred around the plane and how it was to be used in locating the reef and gave him the distinct impression that Coote had been undermining his authority, "All this looks like instruction from you. I told the boneheads in Sydney not on any account to send another plane ~ By these instructions it appears that you have been appealing on my behalf to hurry up and send another plane". Coote replied in his usual saucy manner and dismissed Blakely's wishes, he thought the plane would be quite useful to the Expedition and as far as Coote was concerned the matter had been decided, fait accompli and Blakeley has been sidelined.
Blakeley received his last letter in the field from the Bailey's on 17/09/30 when Colson returned to Illbilla, there was one letter and, "it was full of silly bunk", with more instructions on using the plane when it returned from Adelaide. Blakeley had the satisfaction of telling the 'Sydney crowd' that as far as he was concerned Lasseter was a fraud and the Expedition was finished and they were returning to Alice Springs. Coote would have to make other arrangements. Blakeley, Sutherland and Taylor driving the battered Thornycroft returned to Alice Springs on 28/09/30. They gave an account of the Expeditions results to Allchurch who had quite a number of letters for the men. After reading his mail from home Blakeley, "started on the Sydney crowds stuff. It informed me that I was to hand everything over to Coote as he was carrying on to help Lasseter". An instruction Blakeley was only too happy to obey.
Blakeley and Sutherland returned to Sydney, "unannounced and very much unwanted", the ex leader of the C.A.G.E. Expedition immediately made a verbal report to the Bailey's, "sparing nothing or anybody". The report made little impression on the Bailey's who were busily planning further expeditions in search of Lasseter or his gold, Blakeley had nothing further to offer the Company and his advice and reports were ignored. About eight days after his return to Sydney, Blakeley presented his written report to the general Meeting of the Company. "None of this information was read by the Chairman to the meeting". But as far as Blakeley was concerned he had presented his final report to the Company. "So at last I was free", of the Sydney crowd.
© R.Ross. 1999-2006