Blakeley and his men sign for their miners rights this morning, Lasseter's is No. 575, what with last minute stores and mail and those infernal telegrams from the Bailey's it is mid afternoon before they finally get away, three weeks late and nine months after Lasseter's outrageous proposal to Texas Green.
Within the hour they are in strife, Taylor, new to the wheel of the Thornycroft, bogs the lumbering vehicle in the sandy bed of the Charles River, it costs an hour and some embarrassment but willing hands soon have the truck on track.
Taylor quickly masters the quirky steering of the six wheeler and makes good time to Pantas Well where they stop to check the loading and the Captain has them pose for a group photograph and posterity, Lasseter is oddly reticent ? Blakeley is relieved to be on the track at last and for the moment out of communication and he can start counting Lasseter's 'two days' from tomorrow. And he does the most unwise thing...as he is prone to, for some pseudo-scientific reason he refuses to top up the tanks with the well water, thinking it goes 'off' after a few days in the container, he will surely regret this decision in his haste to get to the reef.
They make another five miles west and there is plenty of enthusiasm and optimism about the camp on the expeditions first night under the stars with a couple of notable incidents, Lasseter can't make a damper and that causes the obvious comment, and the Government Resident, (Carrington) and one of the police arrive with a change of codes for the radio connection to Arthur Blakeley. Carrington expresses dry surprise at the expeditions progress for the afternoon and immediately departs in a cloud of dust and headlights, he's made pretty good time himself.
Speaking of Arthur Blakeley, Minister for Territories, he has to answer his detractors today, it's been rumored that he has influenced the fitout of the C.A.G.E. expedition, this of course he firmly denies and emphasises the point that as Minister for the Northern Territory he cannot be involved in anyway, he acknowledges his brother, Frederick is leader of said expedition and hopes nobody asks awkward questions about mining subsidies, the Minister takes a broad view of influence.
The village ancients at Oneri Spring hobble about camp, laid low with back injuries, old and new, the damp weather probably doesn't help, it's a welcome convalescence waiting for the camel team.