"The Legend of Lasseter's Reef"
Winner West Australia Premier¹s Book Award 2003
Teachers NotesThese notes to accompany The Legend of Lasseter's Reef provide suggestions for classroom activities based on or linked to the book's text and illustrations and highlight points for discussion.
Lasseter's search for an elusive and mysterious gold reef is one
of the world's great mysteries and holds a significant place in Australian
folklore. His tale of lost treasure is an enduring one that stimulates
the imagination. It is a universal story, yet uniquely Australian - a quest
set in a land of adventure.
On Writing "The Legend of Lasseter's Reef"
by Mark Greenwood
The story of lost gold in the dead heart of Australia has fascinated me ever since I first began researching the story of Lasseter's Reef in 1994. Over the years I collected information from libraries and numerous archive sources throughout Australia. I traveled to remote Central Australia, accompanied by Aboriginal guides from the Docker River settlement. I retraced the vast area covered by Harold Lasseter in his extraordinary search for a fabled gold reef. I visited the cave where his famous diary was uncovered and many other localities connected with Lasseter in order to recreate his legend into an illustrated book.
About the Author
Mark Greenwood is an author and musician. His books and songs have been published internationally. Mark's series of children's books, "Magic Boomerang", "Outback Adventure" and "Our Big Island", were prompted by an interest in multicultural literature and the unique way illustrated books can assist children to develop an understanding of other cultures and perspectives.
Mark's book, The Legend of Moondyne Joe is the winner of the 2002 WA Premiers Award. The Legend of Lasseter's Reef aims to encourage an appreciation of Australia's unique myths and legends.
Mark enjoys working with students of all ages, inspiring and developing their natural curiosity about books and writing.
About the Illustrations
Having collected a vast treasure of documents, photographs, books, letters and maps Mark began to consider the art and design component of the book. Although a primitive style of illustration was appropriate for a setting of vast open spaces and a tale of wealth beyond dreams, he also wanted to include historical details to balance the innocence and freedom of expression of the illustrations.
Mark wanted the illustrations to leave the textures and frontier qualities of Central Australia to the imagination and invite the reader into the events in Lasseter's haunting story.
Suggestions for classroom activities
Talk / write / research life in the days of the prospectors, the gold rush, the depression.
Imagine you were suddenly transported back in time. What was life like in the Central Australia at the turn of the century?
Follow the unfolding train of events in Lasseter's search to find riches in the mysterious dead heart of the Australian Outback. Create a time-line of the important dates and places in the story of Lasseter's Reef and include in it your own illustrations.
Using the book's endpapers and maps as a guide, design your own
map to Lasseter's Reef. Include illustrations and clues to the gold.
Look at the reasons why people explored Australia and the hardships they endured.
Who was Bob Buck? Who was Harding? Develop the characters of Lasseter, Bob Buck, Harding, the C.A.G.E. expedition members, the Afghan Cameleer, the Aboriginal elder.
Discuss what made Lasseter different from other prospectors.
Imagine you are an explorer or prospector - write a diary entry titled: "My first day in uncharted land". Describe the textures of the Australian outback and its frontier qualities.
Newsflash! Write a front-page story about someone finding Lasseter's Reef. Design your own article with a catchy title, sub-headings, text and illustrations.
Write a song or poem about Lasseter's lost treasure of gold.
Research & describe the country Lasseter explored: the flora, fauna, landmarks, and colours.
Retell the story from an Aboriginal perspective.
Make your own diary using antigued paper and cloth or card cover.
The story and its themes
Discuss the theme of journeys, expectation and confrontation with realities, the pitting of man against and unknown environment and how important they are to the historical origins of other Australian stories of explorers and legends.
Lasseter challenged the outback. He dragged on beneath the sun, his tongue bursting with thirst and his mind suffering from the disorientation of the desert. He undertook a rugged and astonishing journey to find extraordinary wealth buried in the earth. Discuss the strength of spirit nurtured by a life in search of gold.
Why does the story of Lasseter's Reef have such an appeal? Why has his treasure never been found? Does Lasseter's Reef exist?
Discussion - Does an appreciation of our goldrush history, give us a better understanding of ourselves, and our culture?
The Cover & Endpapers
Ask students to look closely at the front cover and endpapers. Have them jot down quickly, like a brainstorming session, their responses. What questions come to mind? What might the story be about? When is the story set?
Questions based on the text
Where did Lasseter bury his papers, maps and letters?
Further reading for teachers
'Lasseter's Last Ride' Idriess, Ion Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1980
Interesting places to visit
These notes are provided for free. For more extensive notes & information regarding school bookings for the book's author contact: firstname.lastname@example.org