Phantom Gold

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Phantom Gold
Directed byRupert Kathner
Produced byRupert Kathner
Written byRupert Kathner
StarringStan Tolhurst
Narrated byCaptain A.C. Stevens
Music byRex Shaw
CinematographyRupert Kathner
Edited byCecil Blackman
Kathner-Tolhurst Australian Productions
Release date
23 June 1937 (Singleton)[1][2]
24 September 1937 (Sydney)[3]
Running time
64 minutes

Phantom Gold is a 1936 Australian adventure film about the search for Lasseter's Reef. It was the first feature from director Rupert Kathner.

Plot summary[edit]

Harold Lasseter claims he knows the location of a gold reef and in 1930 manages to raise funds for an expedition to discover it. He discovers the reef but dies of thirst.

Pilots W.L. Pittendrigh and S.J. Hamre go looking for Lasseter but run out of fuel and are forced to land in the desert. They are there for three weeks before being rescued. Bob Buck discovers Lasseter's body and buries him. The gold reef is never found.


  • Stan Tolhurst as Harry Lasseter
  • Bryce Russell as Paul Johns
  • Captain W.L. Pittendrigh as himself
  • Bob Buck as himself
  • Old Warts as himself
  • Reg King as S.J. Hamre
  • Ben Nicke


In April 1936 Sydney businessman H.V. Foy led an expedition to discover Lasseter's Reef in central Australia.[4] He took two filmmakers with him, Rupert Kathner and Stan Tolhurst, to record the trip. Along the way they encountered several people who knew Lassester, including Bob Buck, the bushman who found his dead body, and Old Warts, an aboriginal who befriended him.[5]

The expedition retraced Lasseter's steeps, including visiting the cave where he died, but found no trace of gold. Foy, Kathner and Tolhurt decided to make a feature film based on the story of Lasseter's expedition instead.[6] Tolhurst was cast in the role of the prospector and grew a beard..

Filming went on for around three months in central Australia. Another expedition was taking place at the same time to find the reef. They reported spears had been thrown at them by aboriginals in war paint.[7] When Kathner and Tolhurst arrived in Broken Hill in July they revealed these aboriginals had been painted up to appear in the film but they had believed them to be docile.[8]

Kathner and Tolhurst then returned to Sydney and shot additional sequences. Among these were re-enactments of Captain W.L. Pittendrigh's real life attempted rescue of Lasseter.

None of the film had synchronous dialogue apart from an opening interview with Foy. Sydney radio personality A.C. Stevens offered a narration.


The film was rejected under the quality clause of the New South Wales Film Quota Act and struggled to find a distributor, forcing Kathner to arrange screenings himself.[5] Reviews praised the setting but found it dramatically lacking.[9]

The filmmakers were sued by publishers Angus and Robertson who claimed the film infringed the copyright on the 1931 book Lasseter's Last Ride by Ion Idriess. The case was never heard in court but Foy barred any further screenings of the film.[5]


  1. ^ "Advertising". Singleton Argus. NSW: National Library of Australia. 18 June 1937. p. 7. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  2. ^ ""PHANTOM GOLD"". Singleton Argus. NSW: National Library of Australia. 21 June 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  3. ^ "AMUSEMENTS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 24 September 1937. p. 3. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  4. ^ "MINING EXPEDITION". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 20 April 1936. p. 6. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, p178
  6. ^ "PAINTED UP FOR BUSH FILM". The Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 4 July 1936. p. 33. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  7. ^ "ABORIGINES ATTACK GOLD SEARCHERS". The Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 18 June 1936. p. 15. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  8. ^ "HUMMERSTON'S "WILD NATIVES"". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 3 July 1936. p. 3. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  9. ^ ""PHANTOM GOLD."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 27 September 1937. p. 6. Retrieved 13 August 2012.

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