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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 49, June 2010

Facebook, fighting finches and fantastic press. Read on.

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In this issue

Bushwalking Holiday Sale

Every single trip in my program is one I enjoy doing myself. I've got more bookings on late season trips this year then I've had for years, but only two are definite departures. If I can't guarantee them soon, I may not be able to get good guides. I hate to disappoint people so I've put some trips on sale. Book and pay for any Australian trip which already has bookings and I'll give you 20% off. Check the availability page on our website for details.

Something really special. One of those trips goes into the most restricted area in Kakadu. It's the place where I had the single most magical moment of my bushwalking life. No photo can do it justice so there is none on the website. If you want to find out more, you'll have to come and see for yourself.

Something really easy. The Kakadu Family Walk: 23-29 July is the easiest dry season trip we offer. Adults who enjoy a leisurely pace, lots of swimming and seeing the excitement of children (ages 7, 10 and 12) discovering new things might find this ideal.

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Gregory National Park is no more

On Thursday May 13, a ceremony was held at Jasper Gorge to mark the handing back of Gregory National Park to its Traditional Owners. As part of the process, the Park has been renamed Jutpurra. The Park is to be leased back to the Northern Territory Government for 99 years."

Here's the ABC news story about the handover.

Only time will tell what this means for bushwalking there. Hopefully, a section of Aboriginal Land in the Stokes Range between the two sections of the park will again be included. That area includes some magnificent gorges we normally visit on our annual Gregory trip.

Augustus Gregory for whom the park had been named was one of Australia's most successful explorers. With no great dramas to capture the public imagination, he is relatively unknown. If you'd like to know a bit more about him, try the following websites.

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South Africa — Last Chance

Kruger and Kakadu. Willis's Walkabouts is the only tour operator in the world who can take you bushwalking in both.

This trip will be the most adventurous in years. We are taking advantage of something very new and carrying our packs on a three night walk in Kruger. We've taken five of the available eight places on the Mphongolo Backpacking Trail. We can take other bookings for as long as other places remain available.

Although we can't get onto the Otter Trail, the Harkerville Trail is just as spectacular. I've already done it three times and am more than happy to go again. Scroll down on my Africa Gallery page and you'll see some photos. Click to see larger versions. The Footprint Hiking Club website has more info. The Harkerville Trail has a special place in my memory as it was the first overnight walk I did in South Africa as well as the most spectacular overnight walk I've done.

The final itinerary remains a work in progress. Now that we're bringing tents we've got several new and interesting possibilities. Personally, I'm really looking forward to this one.

If you're seriously interested but still hesitant, several of those who have been on our previous trips have offered to talk to potential clients and give them an unbiased opinion. Ask us for details if you'd like to talk to one of them.

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Facebook — If you don't opt out, you've opted in

As mentioned in the last newsletter, Tracey Dixon, the designer of this website, has created a Willis's Walkabouts Facebook page. Several people took up my offer and became "friends".

People who have done trips can post comments and photos. You can use it to talk to others who have done trips. Probably a lot more that I haven't worked out yet. Given time, this could become a great way to communicate. Have a look and see what's been going on so far.

As of when I last looked I had 32 Facebook "friends". The way the system works, I need many more for the page to get noticed. Tracey has suggested that she send an invitation to become a "friend" to everyone on this mailing list. You'll get an email and can simply click to say yes or do nothing. Or, if you don't want the email, please let me know and I'll take you off the list before it gets used.

What's in it for you? Join in and you get a new way to communicate with other like minded people and you increase the probability that a trip you are interested in will run. As an example, one person has been really keen to do our Gregory Explorer for several years. Sadly, it hasn't had the bookings to run in the past five years.

Thanks Tracey and thanks to anyone who helps make this work.

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Fighting Finches, Ferocious Flies & a Fantastic File

Fighting Finches

Catalyst recently had a short story about fighting finches. It turns out that other finches have been one of the causes of the decline of the Gouldian finch. And, surprise, you can read about John Gould for whom the finches are names on the Dictionary of Australian Biography "G" page.

Ferocious Flies

Normal flies are a nuisance. March flies hurt. the last issue of Into the Blue, the quarterly magazine of the Coast and Mountain Walkers of NSW, contains an interesting article on march flies. We seldom find them in the plague proportions I've encountered elsewhere, but we do have them. If you've ever been bothered by these nasty little beasts, it's worth a read.
Reprinted here with permission from the editor.

Fantastic File

Sorry, but I got a bit carried away with the letter "F".

I recently discovered a wonderfully informative website Ecology in the tropical Top End of the Northern Territory. It summarises recent research. Those summaries "are intended for interested laypersons and researchers outside their area of specialty." The June 2010 article about Trees and changing landscapes is the one that first caught my eye, but there are many more, all well worth a read.

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Willis's Walkabouts in the News

  1. When someone from the Weekend Australian called to ask me for some photos of the Bungles in the Wet, I expected them to be doing a generic story. I was amazed and more than a bit happy when I discovered that their story was about Willis's Walkabouts. The story appeared on page 3 of the Travel and Indulgence section of the 15-16 May edition. As the full newspaper doesn't go on line, I've copied it, added some extra photos and have put the full story onto my website.
  2. Some months ago, the editor of Into the Blue, the quarterly magazine of the Coast and Mountain Walkers of NSW, was looking for material. As one of the club members had been on my Charnley and Bachsten walks in July 2009, I sent him a story. That story was published in their May issue, included here with the permission of the editor.
    If you are a member of a bushwalking club, the offer at the end of the article is worth noting. We often do special trips for clubs.
  3. It hasn't come out yet, but I've been told that the July 2010 issue of the ACF magazine Habitat will contain a story written by one of our clients about her Cockburn Range walk in May this year.

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Work for Willis's

Leading my bushwalking tours has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Although the other guides feel the same way, changing circumstances have forced many to retire.

I need more guides, especially people who would be happy to lead only one or two trips a year and who be able to take on a trip at relatively short notice.

If you are an experienced bushwalker with time on your hands. If you enjoy working with mixed groups of different ages and abilities. If you are willing to get the necessary qualifications (not many), give me a call or send me an email and ask for more information.
Email: walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au

It just might be one of the best things you've ever done.

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Adventure Activity Standards — Another Update

The autumn edition of The Bushwalker, the magazine of the confederation of Bushwalking Clubs of NSW has a good summary of where things stand beginning on page 12.

On pages 13-14, there is a tongue in cheek story, Muriel's Accident showing what might happen if you were to take the proposed standards to their logical (or not so logical) conclusion. I particularly enjoyed the final paragraph.

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Newsletter 48 Follow Up

Calling All Authors

I received two articles, one of which is likely to go into Habitat. I'd welcome additional stories (preferably with photos) of trips you've done with us that could be added to the website.

Paul Benjafield

Many thanks to those who sent in photos and comments about Paul. Most of those have gone onto a Tribute to Paul Benjafield page. All have been passed on to his mother and partner Dao. If anyone else has anything they'd like to add, please send it to me and I'll pass it along.

If you missed the original story, see the newsletter page on our website. That link will eventually change to this newsletter. When it does, Newsletter 48 will appear at the previous newsletter page on the website.

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Knee Surgery — Been There, Done That

Many thanks to everyone who sent me info about possible surgeons. I lucked out with a visiting knee specialist from Adelaide Sports Med and had arthroscopic surgery on 21 May. Three days later, I was cycling to the gym. I'll be leading the first section of the Gibb Gorges trip beginning on 20 June and then the Kakadu Highlights trip beginning on 5 July. I think I was pretty lucky with how it turned out.

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Special discounts — combine them and save even more

Book now and save! As in the past, if you are one of the first three people who quote this newsletter when booking any Australian trip within two weeks of when we sent it out, you will get an extra 10% discount on any trip where your total discounts are 10% or less. You'll get an extra 5% off if your total discounts are 15% or more.

Note 1. There has to be a limit. The maximum total discount on any trip is 35%.
Note 2. This offer does not apply to trips where the special offer specifies no other discounts apply.
Note 3. It's amazing how few people take advantage of this offer. You have to ask to get it.
Note 4. This offer does not apply to the trips already on sale in the first section.

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News About This Newsletter

The newsletters are sent from walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au. This is the contact address on our website. If you would like to continue to receive these newsletters, please include this address in your "friends list" so that it isn't blocked.

Emails sent to walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au are currently automatically forwarded to rrwillis at internode.on.net. If you want to send an email to that address, replace the word "at" with the symbol @. I am trying not to put that address any place where it can be harvested by spam bots.

We don't want to add to the mass of email spam. If you don't want our newsletter, please send us an email and let us know. We'll then delete your name from our newsletter list.

Our email address is walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au.

Note. The program we use to send this newsletter has an automatic delete at the bottom. Clicking that link will delete you from the mailing list on the server but it will not delete you from our main database. My newsletter mailing program will not allow the auto delete to send me an email notifying me that a deletion has been made. If you want to be removed from all further mailings, please send an email to walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au

If you know someone you think would enjoy this newsletter, please forward it to them.

Best wishes to all.
Russell Willis

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

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