33. BOWLEY'S RANGE.

"proceed with all possible haste to the gap at Bowley's Range, between the River Shaw and Irvine Creek and look for a lone hill".

Part of Philip Taylor's letter of instruction to Bob Buck, Hermannsburg 19/02/31. Lasseter's Last Ride. Idriess, Ion. L. 242,243.

According to instructions issued to Bob Buck by Philip Taylor, at Hermannsburg on 19/02/31, Bowley's Range should have been Buck's first check point in the continuing search for Harold Lasseter or his reef. By camel and Bob Buck's reckoning, the Range lay nearly 300 miles,  west south west of Hermannsburg, via his station at Middleton Ponds, the Basedow Range, Ayers Rock, The Olgas and finally the "lone hill upon which you will see a single tree;" the lone hill is Mount Bowley situated in the Bowley Range at lat. 25 09, long. 129 45, significantly, the Mount is within sight of Lasseter's first grave.

Ernest Giles briefly noted the mountain during his 1874 expedition through he Petermann Ranges, "A hill in the main range eastward of Mount Miller I called Mount Bowley", and Buck arrived in the vicinity on 27/03/31, travelling south from Illbilla and more than a month after leaving Hermannsburg.  He camped at Putta Putta, a reliable water source less than ten miles north west of Mount Bowley, and that evening, learnt from the Aboriginals, the whereabouts of the dead prospector. Next morning the Aboriginals lead Buck to Winters Glen, where he found and buried Lasseter on 28/03/31.

Buck returned to the Bowley Range area in June that year as guide to Walter Gill's small expedition to the Petermann Ranges, and again in mid 1933 when he cleared an airfield and prepared the camp for Donald Mackay's aerial mapping expedition for that year, apparently the area chosen by Buck was remarkably free of obstructions and became known as the, 'Mount Bowley Natural Landing Ground'. For several reasons the landing ground proved unsuitable for Mackay's purposes and Buck was promptly ordered to move the camp west to the Docker River, where he should have been according to Mackay's earlier instructions. The bush airstrip received further publicity in 1936 when it was used as a base by Stan Hummerston and Morley Cutlack in their long running fraud, deluding shareholders into financing expensive junkets to Central Australia, searching for Lasseter's Reef.

There is no logical explanation for Buck's instructions directing him to return to Bowley's Range after checking for Lasseter or sign at Sandstone Rock Reservoir, located about 35 miles north, a round trip of seventy plus miles and three to four days duration. Little would change in the vicinity of Bowley's Range during Buck's absence north, official history would still record Lasseter laying dead by six weeks at Winters Glen, less than five miles south east of Mount Bowley. Yet, had Buck followed his odd instructions and proceeded, "with all possible haste", to Bowley's Range he may have arrived in the vicinity in time to change history, and have two opportunities to do so, perhaps finding Lasseter alive and not yet having penned his 78 Day Letter.  

LASSETERIA

 

Cartwright, Max. Ayers Rock to the Petermanns. 71,72. Gill, Walter. Petermann Journey. 98. Idriess, Ion, L. Lasseter's Last Ride. 242,243. Giles, Ernest. Australia Twice Traversed. Chapter, 29. National Archives Australia. Title, Mackay Expedition. Aerial Survey of Central Australia. Series number, A431. Control symbol, 1947/1640.