Captain Blakiston-Houston's notes on the Expedition. 


Captain Blakiston-Houston did not hold certain members of the C.A.G.E. Expedition or its organisation in high regard, and in his memoirs make several pointed references to the ineptitude of the leaders and Lasseter's paranoia. The Captain notes that, "none of them knew much about organising such an expedition. They had taken no steps to procure such maps as existed" and on 2/7/30 "They managed to miss the train from Sydney by half an hour" delaying arrival in Alice Springs by a fortnight and wasting two weeks of the Captains furlough. The Captain promptly made his own travel arrangements to the Centre via Melbourne and arrived in Alice Springs on 22/7/30, the same day as Coote and Taylor.

Apparently Blakeley chose to ignore the Captains considerable experience in the arcane art of logistics until the issue was forced on Blakeley at Alice Springs and the Captain managed to persuade  the stubborn leader to repack the supplies in detail rather than in bulk. The Expedition finally got underway on 24/7/30 and on the journey west Blakiston-Houston mentions Blakeley's poor water management and the consequences of forgoing a water refill at Pantas Well. The Captain gives the distinct impression that Blakeley's leadership was found wanting at this stage and the beginnings of dissention in the party.

Blakiston-Houston gives a brief review of Lasseter's first journey through Central Australia and makes the trenchant observation that, "if Lasseter's story is true he was thus the first explorer to cross the continent from east to west" and writes of Lasseter's suspicious if not paranoid nature, "and each night locked himself with all the firearms into the cab of the Thorneycroft ~ we began to look on him as a braggart and a bit of a liar".

On the other hand Freddy Colson receives an honorable mention, "He was a real bushman and quite a good mechanic - the sort of man who could make a pushbike out of a pair of old braces". No doubt the practical and experienced Captain was relieved to be shed of the 'Sydney Crowd' as a result of the vehicle breakdown at Ai Ai Creek and his premature return to Alice Springs. In other circumstances this good natured officer in the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) would not tolerate some of the fools making up the first C.A.G.E Expedition. In many ways Blakeley and Bailey and their cronies were from the opposite side of the tracks to the Captain who wisely kept a low profile because of his vice-Regal connections.


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Blakiston-Houston Memoirs 51-68.