293. WINTER'S GLEN.

"if only they knew I am at Winters Glen".
Lasseter's Diary.19-20.

 

Let there be no doubt about the location of Winter's Glen, so named by Ernest Giles on the 1st of June 1874 after Mr. W. Winter Irving, from Stanhope Vic. who also lent his surname to the creek on which the glen is located; 'glen' is a another of Giles romantic descriptives, "another splendid watering-place, where several creeks joined and ran down through a rocky defile, or glen, to the north. There was plenty of both rock and sand water here, and it was a very pretty and excellent little place. I called it Winter's Glen, and the main creek of the three in which it lies, Irving Creek". Giles went on to give very specific directions to Winter's Glen. "This water may easily be found by a future traveller, from its bearing from a high, long-pointed hill abruptly ending to the west, which I named Mount Phillips. This is a very conspicuous mount in this region, ~ This mount can be distinctly seen from Mount Olga, although it is seventy miles away, and from whence it bears 4 north of west. The water gorge at Winter's Glen bears west from the highest point of Mount Phillips, and four miles away".

Fifty seven years later, to the day, Walter Gill and Bob Buck arrived at Winter's Glen where Buck had buried Lasseter just two months earlier. "our camels spilled out on some high ground overlooking the bed of a creek in a valley marked on the map, Winters Glen. And there, at a little distance from the far bank was Lasseter's grave". Gill inspected the grave site and had some passing thoughts on the foolishness of those who chase rainbows, and suggested to Buck the grave should be fenced. While Buck and Johnson Breaden cut saplings and railed in the grave, Gill carved an inscription on a gum tree about fifteen yards away, 'Lassiter. Died. Jan. 1931'. Gill realised after, that his handiwork was only in the bark and not the timber therefore would not last, and he had spelt the name incorrectly. He also found the place nearby where the Aboriginals had built a shelter for Lasseter and had since scattered the branches as is their custom on death, "on the spot where he died, the sands were still stained with putrefaction in the shape of a human body". An important observation when considering the veracity of others.

Photographs of the area show the typical Pottoyu Hills topography, stony rises and low scrub and pine clad hills and a maze of streams and gutters....and remarkably free of caves! Yet Lasseter has his cave, in which he spent several weeks, placed at Winter's Glen, 80 miles from Mount Olga, and in this cave he buries his diary and three rolls of film. Several months later the second C.A.G.E. expedition, under the leadership of Bob Buck, found Lasseter's Diary in a cave on the Hull River, 20 miles or so further north west. Some might explain Lasseter's misplacement due to the lack of maps, having buried them in the kit-bag under a sandhill sometime previously.

But Idriess had plenty of maps and gets the location of Winter's Glen further misplaced, "At Winter's Glen he (Lasseter) spelled his camels. Later on, he hoped to meet Johns and Johannsen at Lake Christopher, eighty miles west of the Glen". Thus placing Winter's Glen somewhere at the eastern end of the Scherwin Mural Crescent and 35 miles west of Lasseter's Cave and nearly 60 miles from its true location. I wonder if this considerable mislocation of a significant place was ever pointed out to Idriess? Maybe it was, Idriess wrote to a publishing colleague after Lasseter's Last Ride had become a runaway best seller, making the belated observation on "how necessary it was to actually experience the country that he was writing about if he wasn't to make a fool of himself".

There is a minor anomaly in the record with Lasseter's death certificate showing the 'place where death occurred' as Shaw Creek Petermann Ranges; the Shaw and the Irving have adjacent headwaters in the Pottoyu Hills and it would be the work of a lifetime to clearly define the divide between the two watercourses. The end of Bob Buck's stubby forefinger would probably cover a hundred square miles of the map on Carrington's desk when asked to point out where he had buried Lasseter, 'bout there' would be the best for accuracy that the Administrator would get from Buck who travelled without maps.  But no great matter a mile or two out there, the Shaw it is, perhaps with a touch of irony on Carrington's part. I will take Gill's word for the location of Lasseter's now empty grave, he had the advantage of being there and travelling with maps which he checked frequently.

Winter's Glen has proven to be a difficult write, perhaps due to the errors of Idriess and Lasseter in locating the place, and the possibility of Idriess having made a contextual slip twixt Diary and bestseller.  There is no evidence of this in the Winter's Glen scenario, Lasseter was lost because he had buried his maps by the time of writing from the Cave and guessed he was at the Glen and Idriess, in the rush to complete a publishing deadline,  simply accepted Blakeley's generalisation in referring to the Petermann Ranges as 'Winter Glen country'.

LASSETERIA

R. Ross. 1999-2006                                                                                                                                                                            20100322

Blakeley, Fred. Dream Millions. 136-139. 174. 176. Eley, Beverley. Ion Idriess. 199. 200. Giles, Ernest. Australia Twice Traversed. Vol 2. 57. Gill, Walter. Petermann Journey.93-97. Henson, Barbara. A Straight-out Man. 64.65.236. Idriess, Ion. L. Lasseter's Last  Ride. 112. 113. 217. 224. 238. 239. Lasseter's Diary. 9. 19. 20. 83. Terry, Michael. Sun and  Sand. 168.