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Australian explorers restart hunt for 'El Dorado' golden reef

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Explorers in Australia have restarted an extraordinary hunt for a local "El Dorado" that an ill-fated explorer first claimed to have found in 1911. The team will be using Google Earth to plot where they think it lies.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hailing from Tamworth, New South Wales, the crew has made five trips to an area near the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, where it was first claimed that a gold reef was found.

In 1929, Harold Bell Lasseter claimed that 18 years previously that he had discovered a reef buried under sand hills in the remote Gibson Desert, Receiving backing from Sydney financiers, he set out to find it again.

Deserted by his companions and camels during the mission, Lasseter eventually died of exhaustion and malnutrition . but still claimed to have found the reef, according to his discovered diary.

The diary was discovered in a cave in the Petermann Ranges, south-west of Alice Springs. A series of expeditions in the next few years failed in their attempts to find the gold.

Eighty years later, there remain trace hopes that the treasure could still be located - by a team involving friends Jeff Harris and Brendan Elliott, who have wanted to find it since they were kids.

Poring through Lasseter's diary, the journal includes sketches and accounts of his last journey. They are now tracing this by matching landmarks with features on the Google Earth maps software.

"Every mark he put in his diary, I followed it," Harris told reporters. "Every picture in the diary, I matched on Google Earth. I drove my missus nuts once I started working it out."

A year later, he found what he thought was a huge quartz outcrop. Quartz often suggests that gold is present. He has since made five trips to the area, convinced he has found the reef.

The crew will return in the next few months. They are convinced, despite the doubts of the government, local people and mining companies that they will find the gold this time.

"We've not found any gold yet, but we're sure there's gold there," he told the newspaper. "We've got no backers - it's just me and eight or nine mates."

The area where the gold is believed to stand is a four-hour helicopter flight from the Aboriginal community of Warburton, the nearest inhabited area, and is 22 miles off a rough track.

Lasseter's son 88-year-old Bob has travelled to the desert more than 10 times to search for the landmarks identified by his father. He believes the gold exists.

"I've found the cave where he sheltered for a month or so, and the sand hill where the camels bolted," he told Australian newspaper The Independent. "I'd like somebody to find it before I die. To me, it's real."

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