Gladstone man's massive gold find claim, needs mining giant
THE faintest whiff of gold sends most people into a spin but for Tannum Sands explorer Jeff Harris, his search for the fabled gold deposits of Lasseter's lost reef may have led to an even greater discovery.
In claims that would change Australian history books, Mr Harris said he had evidence which proved the Dutch crew from the 1708 Concordia shipwreck survived and settled in Western Australia - well before Captain James Cook declared Australia was 'nobody's land'.
Speculation about a so-called "lost white tribe of Australia" began in 1834 when The Leeds Mercury published information from a British officer who led an expedition in 1832 to the interior of Australia.
The officer, Lieutenant Nixon, wrote in his journal about a chance meeting in the desert with a man "whose face was so fair" and spoke "a few expressions in old Dutch".
"I gathered from him a few particulars of a most extraordinary nature; namely, that he belonged to a small community, all as white as himself," Lt Nixon wrote.
Although many have since labelled Lt Nixon's account a hoax, the extracts from his journal had not only spurred on Mr Harris but also Les Hiddins, The Bush Tucker Man, with both laying claim to the discovery of the lost Dutch settlement.
It's understood Mr Hiddins had narrowed in on a specific location in the Northern Territory, however Mr Harris' claims of the Dutch settlement being in Western Australia have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Following in the footsteps of many explorers and prospectors before him, who were all in search of Harold Bell Lasseter's 1929 gold claim, Mr Harris has led several expeditions to find the Australian El Dorado.
But it wasn't until 2011 when Mr Harris believed he'd found Lasseter's lost reef that he was able to connect the dots and convince himself that Lasseter's reef and the "lost Dutch settlement were actually one and the same".
Mr Harris had been captivated by the idea of Lasseter's reef since he was 10-years-old. He made a promise with his best mate Brendan Elliot that one day they would find it.
Using what information he could find, Google Earth and Lasseter's diary, Mr Harris said he was able to pinpoint where the lost reef was.
Although The Observer can't reveal the location of Mr Harris' claim, it can be said the secret location is in Western Australia and about "800 miles" inland from a certain coastal town.
Mr Harris said the breakthrough which led to his discovery came after he "worked out" that "Lasseter's doodles" in his diary were in fact an elaborate way of not only concealing, but also describing where the fabled gold deposit was.
"The significance is that every drawing (corresponds to natural formations)," Mr Harris said.
"People don't take me seriously that I've discovered Lasseter's reef because it's such a mythical thing ... the other thing is that I don't have any gold."
Mr Harris said he has come up against a "brick wall" when he has tried to either get the government, including three prime ministers, or mining companies interested.
But one thing that Mr Harris found intriguing about the location of his Lasseter's reef, was that a fair chunk of the land had already been dug up, similar, he said, to the Victorian gold fields at Sovereign Hill.
Furthermore, when he was out there with a team of mates he discovered a lake, which Lt Nixon mentioned in his account, a wax tooth, holes bored into the ground, strange clusters of rock, Lucerne crops and a strange sand hill.
"The scenery is not normal out there, it's nothing like a desert and you've got these big trees that are planted in straight lines," Mr Harris said.
Mr Harris believed his "evidence" proved Lasseter's reef and the Dutch settlement were located in the same spot.
"I've had to carry on with my research against all odds ... I've been insulted, called nuts, crazy, mad and that's just the polite names ... I've been warned on two occasions that my life could be in danger," he said.
"No one has found Lasseter's reef or this so-called Dutch settlement but that's just because it is in unexplored land.
"I just want to X-ray the sand hills and if there's nothing there then so be it ... I might be wrong but I know I'm not."
Although Mr Harris might have a bit of trouble getting The Bush Tucker Man on side, he said he wanted the man he respected to look over his report. Mr Hiddins declined to comment. Mr Harris hoped his discovery would lead to the protection of the site and a correction to the history books.