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Willis's Walkabouts - Our History

Founded in 1986, Willis's Walkabouts is northern Australia's most experienced bushwalking tour operator.

Russell Willis at Solea Falls, June 2004 On almost all of our bushwalking holidays you carry a full backpack (which can be surprisingly light in our part of the world). On a few wet season trips, you only need a daypack on some sections.

No two trips are alike! This is one of the things which sets us apart from mainstream tour operators. Using as many different areas as possible allows us to minimise our impact and ensure that each group enjoys the same pristine environment as the last. Our environmental efforts were recognised when we applied for and received advanced eco-tourism certification. You can find our tours on the Ecotourism Australia website.

Our History

Russell Willis (see photo) came to Darwin in early 1974 and immediately fell in love with the Top End bush. Within a few months, he was helping found the Darwin Bushwalking Club. As first club president, he helped pioneer many of the routes local bushwalkers use today.

Wishing to share his experience with a wider group of people, Russell started Willis's Walkabouts as a one man, one vehicle operation in Kakadu and the Kimberley in 1986. A year later, there were two guides and two vehicles. The business continued to grow and new areas were added:

In 2001, we began to put out an occasional newsletter. It's not only free, it contains far more than just information about our trips. It's so varied, the best way to see what it is like is to browse through the newsletter archive and see how it changes from issue to issue.

Russell Willis in the Bungle Bungles, April 2008 Since 1992 we have offered more than 50 different trips and employed up to ten guides on a seasonal basis. Every single guide is someone who enjoys bushwalking and sharing their knowledge with those who come on their trips. Every single walk in the program is one which Russell Enjoys doing himself.

To maximise the number of good trips we can offer and encourage people to come back and visit different areas, we visit certain areas only every second or third year. With a number of people having done ten or more of our trips, it seems to work.

We had our first repeat clients in 1988, our third year of operatrion. The number of repeats steadilty increased until 2004 when it hit 50%. We've averaged 40 to 50% repeat clients every year since with the vast majority of our new clients coming based on recommendations from their friends. What better recommendation could we have?

Still curious?

Willis's Walkabouts, 12 Carrington Street, Millner NT 0810, Australia walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au

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