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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 52, December 2010

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Sadly, it is likely to be anything but a Merry Christmas for the man who turned the derelict Mount Hart Homestead into a Kimberley tourist icon. Unless a lot of people speak up and speak up quickly, that man's life and the wonderful personal experience he created are about to be sacrificed on the altar of big business and government greed. I hadn't planned to send out another newsletter so soon, the this is something I cannot let pass. Read on.

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In this issue

Mount Hart Madness

I first stopped at Mt Hart shortly after Taffy Abbotts took it over in 1990. I remember what it was like then and can hardly believe the changes that have taken place over the years. It was, and should still be, a great place to start and/or finish a walk. I had no idea that there was a problem until I received an email from a bushwalking friend who had used it recently. Once I got the news, I felt that I had to do whatever I could to assist.

Here is the introduction to Taffy Abbotts' plea for help.

"Over the last 20 years I have created Mt Hart homesteads and gardens into an icon of tourism in the whole of the Kimberley, in partnership with The Department of Environment and Conservation (D.E.C) formerly known as C.A.L.M (conservation and Land Management)."

"At 64 years of age they have now informed me that they are not going to renew the contract of services agreement I have with them, after November 2011 and they are going to take Mt Hart out for expressions of interest. They have large corporations interested in getting the Mt Hart lease which means I don't stand a chance. They have told me they are not taking my business out as a going concern with the lease, which means I am going to lose my home, my livelihood, my business and the country I love."

I'd like to think that Taffy does have a chance of getting the lease, but if the tender is decided purely on a financial basis, he's right. He doesn't stand a chance. Is money really the only thing that matters?

My understanding is that this is not the first time DEC has done this to a small operator. In this case, in spite of a contractual arrangement, they began by offering him a pittance compared to what it was really worth. Crush the little folk and give everything to big business and you destroy part of what makes the Kimberley such a great place to visit. Do we really want Australia to become a country where the little fellow is totally sacrificed in the search for ever more money for big business and government?

Please have a look at the Mt Hart page on the Gibb River Road website. The photos and words there tell the story far better than I can. It also gets updated frequently so you can follow what is happening.

If you would like to express your support for Taffy in his struggle, please use the feedback form on the Gibb Road website or contact Taffy direct at mthart@bigpond.com.

Unless as many people as possible speak up, the government bureaucrats will assume that they can happily continue to destroy the things which make Australia such a special place. If you would like to tell them that you support Taffy and that there's more to life than money, please send an email to Premier Colin Barnett at either or both of the following addresses.

Letters take more effort, but they count for more than emails. If you would like to send a letter to the premier (or if you juust want a template to use in an email), click here to get a copy of the draft I prepared. Feel free to modify it. My own letter refers to my personal experience at Mt Hart over many years.

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Wet Season Trips Update

The four wet season trips mentioned in the last newsletter are all now definite departures. Every one has something different to recommend it. It is now unlikely that any other wet season trips will run in 2011.

Special offer. All four trips have relatively small groups, so small that I'll give a special discount to anyone else who books. Exactly what that discount will be will depend on empty seats in vehicles, in helicopters and on light aircraft. Please contact me if you are interested. These offers will change as the seats disappear.

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A Guided Tour of Your Body

With Christmas indulgences upon us, you might want to consider a bit of exercise beyond your normal. It's not just what you do but when you do it that makes a difference. This was something I don't recall having heard before. It's almost like twice the benefit with half the work. Well worth a read.

Changes in our health are inevitable as we get older. But while doctors tell us to focus on the basics — eat right, exercise and keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check — is there more that we need to know about staying well as we age?

The NY Times has a special Guided Tour of Your Body page where "you'll be able to learn the best that science and medicine can offer for taking care of yourself." I found it quite informative and interesting enough so I could spend hours browsing all the links.

A recent SBS documentary about aging showed that the length of the telomeres at the end of your genes was directly related to how fast you age. According to a German study, regular exercise keeps your telomeres from shortening at the normal rate. Sitting around helps you grow old early.

I hope you find all these as interesting as I did.

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Other Trips

Bookings have been coming in regularly. Those that get booked first are those that are going to run. Get in soon if you are interested in a particular trip. The Availability and Specials page on our website will always have the most up to date information available.

None of those who had asked about the Arctic trip decided to book, so it's off until 2012. Our next overseas trip won't be before September.

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Can old jumper cables damage new cars?

I put something about old jumper cables and new cars in the last newsletter. It appears that the problem may be a marketing exercise rather than a real one. Here's what I got from one reader.

"More marketing B***T from a vendor about a fancy product they want to sell. Basically, the three assumptions in it are wrong.
First, an alternator cannot produce hundreds of volts just like that, especially when loaded by a flat battery.
Second, disconnecting the second battery does NOT remove all voltage references or current sinks from the car: the original battery is still there taking every amp it can get.
Third, modern car systems are designed to handle surges because they can happen under ordinary conditions.
Spin, spin, spin. Crap."

I'm no electrician, but I suspect that my reader, a PhD, is correct. On the other hand, the original link was sent to me by someone who originally trained as an electrical engineer. In any case, I don't entirely trust computers in cars so I'll leave this one to you.

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Computers and Your Brain - Update

In the last newsletter I had some links to articles about how computers may be changing the way we think. If you have teenage or younger children or grandchildren, I'd also recommend you read this one about kids and cyber bullying. It's just as valid in Oz as the US.

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Happy Christmas!

I hope you will be able to express your support for Taffy Abbotts who is facing a less than happy Christmas.

My Christmas present to you remains the same as in the last newsletter. 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.

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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.

Finally, since this will surely be my last newsletter for the year, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, to you 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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