69. DASHWOOD CREEK.
"Our next objective was the Dashwood, a dry creek near Mount Heughlin".
COOTE 78
 

The headwaters of this usually dry watercourse rise on the southern slopes of Mount Ziel and occasionally flow west then northeast to flood out in the sand plains to the north of the MacDonnell Ranges, the C.A.G.E. expedition first crossed the Dashwood at a point between Mount Heughlin and Mount Ziel on 28/7/30.

For Blakeley and the men it was a place of mixed memories, but part of it would always be recalled with fondness by them as the site of 'Houston's Soak'. The expedition arrived early in the morning and under some pressure from the men Blakeley declared camp for a couple of days. As soon as the crossing was made Colson set about digging a soak in the apparently dry sandy creek bed and to the amazement of the city bound soon struck water. Under Colson's direction the enthusiastic men deepened and timbered the hole and within the hour had a copious supply of cold clear water. Coote was impressed with Colson's bushmanship and the amicable Captains capacity for roughing it, and "painted the words 'Houston's Soak' on a sign - just a tribute to the capacity for hard work that was displayed by that social lion, Captain Blakiston-Houston of the Eleventh Royal Hussars. He could swing a pick and shovel like a diploma-ed navvy".

Once established, and with plenty of water, the men gave themselves and everything washable a thorough souse, a scene that Blakeley describes in some detail, "Six naked men were standing in a row lathering themselves with soap and pouring water on their heads ~It was great fun for Mickey, for this was his first glimpse of white men without clothes ~ but no amount of persuasion would induce Mickey to have a bath", and a little later, "Only Phil and Harry now had not had a wash ~ I put on a couple of buckets of water on the fire and inside ten minutes Phil was having the time of his life". From the above Blakeley has nine men in the party, a point of arithmetic that Stapleton makes much of when casting doubt on Blakeley's reliability as a chronicler of events. No doubt Blakeley kept a sloppy record if any of the journey, but Stapleton's calculations are equally astray, he has seven men in the expedition at this stage and fails to include Micky as part of the team, there were eight men camped on the Dashwood that night.

Events moved at a leisurely pace over the next two days, an airstrip was cleared close by the camp and Taylor carried out a number of repairs to the Thornycroft, otherwise much time was spent relaxing and enjoying Sutherland's cooking from the expeditions extensive stores. It was however a less than pleasant camp for Lasseter, the opportunity was taken to try out the much talked about two way radio, purchased under Lasseter's recommendation, it proved a disappointing and embarrassing failure and would only receive through earphones and not transmit. Apparently the loud speaker and a number of vital parts had been left in Sydney and despite several lessons in assembling and operating the radio, Lasseter had no clear idea on how to use this valuable piece of equipment, a shortcoming that Taylor pointedly reminded him about, which resulted in hot words between the two.

Blakeley was not overly concerned about the partially inoperative radio and the Captain was happy enough as long as that nights cricket score could be received.

LASSETERIA


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Blakeley Fred Dream Millions 22,23. Coote E.H. Hell's Airport 45. Marshall-Stoneking Lasseter the Making of a Legend 36. Stapleton Austin Lasseter Did Not Lie 34.