When did the first C.A.G.E. Expedition leave Alice Springs? 


The first C.A.G.E. expedition under the leadership of Fred Blakeley left Alice Springs on the afternoon of 24/07/30, yet it is widely recorded that the party set out on their failed venture to the west on 21/07/30, the sources for the earlier date being Blakeley and Idriess and one would expect the leader of the expedition to know what day he left the 'Alice, not so.

Apparently later commentators have failed to note, or have ignored the contradiction in dates, with Coote and Taylor arriving in Broken Hill on 20/0730 and leaving for Marree the following day, as the pilot and the mechanic cannot be in two places at once the matter was worth investigation if only to establish the reliability of the chroniclers.

At the time the it was thought the difference of three days was a minor point, but subsequent research has exposed Blakeley as an ignorant and foolish leader with a poor memory (he did not keep a daily log of the expedition), Idriess as a literary charlatan and surprisingly, Coote as a fairly accurate recorder of events.

The search for the truth began in Broken Hill where Coote notes his surprise at finding "hundreds of people there to meet the Golden Quest",---surely the Press were there too?!--and they were, with sharp pens and clever questions, Coote was only too happy to respond to the Scribes. Reporters from the Barrier Daily Truth and the Barrier Miner also recorded Lasseter's arrival on 12/07/30, Blakeley and Sutherland departing town on 16/07/30 and through Coote, the Captains departure from Melbourne on 18/07/30, Blakeley was certainly right when he said the Expedition left Sydney in "dribs and drabs" then promptly contradicts himself by stating, "but everything had been carefully planned".

Blakeley's recollection of events as recorded in Dream Millions was starting to look shaky, having established the whereabouts of Coote and Taylor on 21/07/30 the obvious question arises, when did the Expedition leave Alice Springs??. After a few false starts the answer was unearthed in the Northern Territory Archives in the 'Record of Miner's Rights' for June to November 1930, there neatly set out in the excellent handwriting of the day and in order are the names, Sutherland, Lassiter, (again misspelt),  Taylor, Coote, Capt. Houston and Blakeley signing for Miner's Rights, numbers 574 to 579 on 24/07/30, the Expedition left Alice Springs that afternoon.

By the way, that 'Record of Miner's Rights' reads like a who's who of Central Australia in 1930, Fred Colson picked up his Miners Right, number 558, on 10/06/30 and Michael Terry, C.A.G.E's feared competition, signed for his on 10/07/30. Other luminaries are Rosenbaum, Ciccone, Stafford, Brumby, Webb, Sagrue, (later mentioned in 'Hell's Airport') Freddy Colson's brothers, the Kilgariffs and Ben Nicker, all graduates in Bushcraft from the University of Centralia, with young Nicker probably topping the class. In stark contrast to most of the members of the C.A.G.E. Expedition.

Recent further confirmation from Father Long's letter to Arthur Blakeley on 04/08/30 ..

Sullivan's Diary.


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Barrier Miner 14/7/30,21/7/30.    Barrier Daily Truth 17/7/30,22/7/30,21/7/30. Northern Territory Archive Service F1086-A2814.  Coote, E.H. Hell's Airport 60-67.  Idriess Ion, Lasseter's Last Ride 10. Blakeley, F. Dream Millions 10.