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Newsletter 66, June 2013 - Willis's Walkabouts

Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 66, June 2013

"Beautiful, powerful and sadly true." Click the Nature's Truth link below and see what impressed me the most as I was preparing this newsletter. I've marked this and two other links I found expecially interesting with a large red asterisk (*).

Browse this at your leisure. There was a lot more I wanted to include, but this newsletter is more than long enough. Browse most of it at your leisure. but if you are interested in our trips, you ought to look at those sections first while trips are still available.

Note. The NY Times allows non-subscribers to look at ten free articles each month. I've got more links than that in this newsletter so I've marked them with a red asterisk (*) so that you can choose which are of most interest to you.

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Kakadu Management Plan and Bushwalking Strategy

Kakadu Management Plan

The current Kakadu Plan of Management is due to expire at the end of 2013. The new one will not be ready by then so the current one will remain in effect until the new one is finally approved. When Park Mangement first called for public input as to what should go into the new plan, they got very few (I think it was less than ten) responses. The latest Kakadu Management Plan Newsletter explains where the process is now and gives a link that you can use if you wish to make any suggestions.

Kakadu Bushwalking Strategy

I have been a member of the committee which has been overseeing the preparation of a new bushwalking strategy for the park for something like three years now. While most of what I saw in the draft in February was fine, there were some things which should be of concern to every one who may ever wish to walk in Kakadu. That document has been modified and the modifications, I believe, have now been approved by the Board of Management. I have not yet seen the final draft which will be available for public comment.

I had hoped to include a link to the draft plan in this newsletter and delayed it to see if that would be possible. I've had to give up so that I can get some information about our trips out while it is still relevant.

The draft will be available for public comment for something like four weeks. When it does become available, I will put out a special newsletter. Not putting in a comment will be taken as acceptance of whatever is published.

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Last Chance — 2013 Australian Trips

Now through 14 July

We have only four places available. They are all single sections of longer trips. Our past client and membership discounts still apply. See our General Information sheet for details.

  • Kakadu Circle No. 2: 23 June - 6 July
    Section one is full. Three places remain on section two.
    Special offer. As we have more people doing section one than section two, we'll give a special $300 discount to anyone who books section two on its own. That brings the list price to $1395.
    The illustrated trip notes contain more detailed information about the trip.
  • Mitchell Plateau No. 2: 7-20 July
    Fly in, fly out and use a helicopter to get between sections.
    Section one is full. Only one place remains on section two.
    Special offer. We've got a helicopter with only one person in it so we will give a $400 discount off for anyone booking section two on its own.
    The discount price is $3495 for section 2.

15 July through 24 August

Only four trips are still available. Unless we get cancellations, all are definite departures. Our past client and membership discounts still apply. See our General Information sheet for details. In addition, the two month advance purchase discount is still available on some.

  • Kakadu Circle No. 3: 15-30 July
    This trip is divided into two sections, either of which can be done on its own.
    Special offer. This is such a small group that we will give a $400 discount on the full trip or $200 on either section. The discount price on the full trip is $2195.
    The illustrated trip notes contain more detailed information about the trip.
  • Kakadu and Top End Birdwatching Special: 4-17 August
    If you are particularly interested in birds, you owe it to yourself to have a look at the link above.
    We may or may not be able to offer this trip in 2014.
  • Mitchell Plateau No. 3: 10-24 August
    Our least expensive trip to the plateau.
    Only four places remain available. Special offer. Anyone booking this trip can have a free ride from Darwin to Kununurra the day before the trip begins. We may be able to offer a ride back as well.
  • Kimberley Highlights No. 2: 22 August - 7 September
    Three sections, any of which can be done on its own.
    Special offer 1. This is a great trip that doesn't run as often as it should. To encourage more people to book, we'll give an extra $100 off to the next two who book.
    Special offer 2. Anyone booking this trip can have a free ride from Kununurra to Darwin the day after the trip ends.

25 August Onwards

All trips are still available. The following already have bookings.

  • Kakadu Highlights No. 8: 25 August - 7 September
    Three sections, any of which can be done on its own.
    This is our only 2013 trip which visits the amazing Dinner Creek, the place where I had the most magical moment in my bushwalking career.
  • Kakadu Highlights No. 9: 8-21 September
    Three sections, any of which can be done on its own.
    Special note. The trip notes were completely revised with photos added on 16 May.
  • Kakadu Family Walk No. 3: 29 September - 5 October
    If you have children who enjoy camping and swimming, you ought to have a look at the link before our three month advance purchase discount expires.
    There is now room for only one adult and one child.
  • Kakadu Light: 4-16 February 2014.
    Walk the wonder of Kakadu in the Wet. Enjoy the waterfalls and wildflowers by day. Relax in comfortable accommodation most nights, camp next to secluded bush pools after short walks on the others.
    Special note. As of 20 May, the itinerary has been completely revised and extended by a day. The trip notes were updated with photos.
    None of our 2014 prices have been updated. Get in early and you lock in the current price.
    I really enjoy this kind of wet season trip, so much so that I may run it for as few as three. Book now and you might guarantee the departure.

Note. We expect to have to cancel some of the 2013 trips which don't yet have bookings. If you are particularly interested in any of those trips, the sooner you contact us, the more likely it is that we will be able to continue to offer it.

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Preventing Blisters & More

One of the places I advertise is in the Bulletin of the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, the umbrella body covering nearly all of the tramping and mountaineering clubs in the country. Browsing through the issues over the years I've seen that they face many of the same issues with development in parks that we do here. Their bulletin also has interesting information which should be of interest to many of you.

As an example, on page 44 of the March 2013 issue you'll find an article about Preventing Blisters. Use the arrow and scroll a bit further and on page 50 you'll find Uncle Jacko's Cookery Column. Before reading that one, I hadn't realised that some screw top gas canisters don't fit some stoves. If you ever use gas for cooking, it's definitely worth a read for that alone.

And, of course, if you're planning a bushwalking trip to New Zealand, browsing the past issues of their bulletin might give you some new ideas. Links to the more recent editions are on their FMC Bulletin page. If that's not enough, there is a link to a page giving you access to all the back issues from 1957 on.

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The 30 March issue of New Scientist began with an editorial "Time to get smarter about stupidity".

No one is immune to the biases that lead to stupid decisions. Yet our reverence for IQ and education means that it is easy to rest on the laurels of our qualifications and assume that we are, by definition, not stupid.

That can be damaging on a personal level: regardless of IQ, people who score badly on rationality tests are more likely to have unplanned pregnancies or fall into serious debt.

Large-scale stupidity is even more damaging. Business cultures that inadvertently encourage it, for example, may have contributed to the economic crisis. Indeed, the effects may have been so damaging precisely because banks assumed that intelligent people act logically while at the same time rewarding rash behaviour based on intuition rather than deliberation. As one researcher puts it: "The more intelligent someone is, the more disastrous the results of their stupidity". The same surely applies to politicians: the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq serves as a reminder that clever people can do monumentally stupid things.

Stupid decisions, by ourselves and others affect us all. The cover story of that same issue was Stupidity: What makes people do dumb things. I think it's well worth a read.

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Capital Punishment — Not What You Think

Q: Do you believe in capital punishment?
A: No, my capital has been punished enough.

The first time I saw the lines above, it was in a joke. Sadly, it's not a joke anymore. It's not as bad in Australia but in the US, "keeping interest rates so low for so long means that the real rate (after accounting for inflation) is negative, thereby cutting significantly the real income of those who have saved for retirement over their lifetime." At the moment, we've got 2.5% inflation. A 2 year term deposit pays something like 3.75%. That gives you a real return of less than 1.5%. not good if you are retired and trying to live off your savings.

* As Low Rates Depress Savers, Governments Reap Benefits explains why governments around the world are so happy to penalise those who have saved for their future.

The world's economy depends on people spending more and more on things they may not really need. In America, personal consumption accounts for about 70% of GDP. In Australia it's over 50%. Economists and politicians tell us to buy more, buy more or no one will have a job. They measure the economy with "Gross Domestic Product", a tool which says that chopping down a forest is worth much more than leaving it there to protect a water supply, that repairing half the damage caused by a natural disaster actually increases GDP. I will admit that I don't understand all the details, but something has to give somewhere. (If you're curious, you can see how different countries compare with regard to personal consumption as a percent of GDP at the World Bank website.

When I finished writing the above, I couldn't help but think of a short slide show which was sent to me by someone who described it as "beautiful, powerful and sadly true." Click the link and see for yourself. Nature's Truth *.

Go Simple

If only we could....

* Simplifying the tax system would save billions of hours. The ever increasing amount of government paperwork individuals and businesses have to put up with is a tremendous drain on society. Tax law gets more complex with each passing year. Why not give some group a task of completely rewriting it, say down to 100 A5 pages, eliminating all the loopholes. Pay the people who do it a huge sum of money, payable only when it is passed into law. OK, it will never happen, but I can dream.

* The Government's Worst Face claims that, "Many Americans, left and right, feel ambivalence not just toward the I.R.S. but toward the federal government and the outsize part it plays in our daily lives." Replace IRS with ATO and you have Australia where the government impinges on our daily lives even more than it does in America. While we do need rules to protect people from various things, I think it's gone too far. I should be spending more time out bush and less time filling in forms.

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WW Overseas

Our overseas trips are like nothing else on the market. All four of our overseas trips have bookings. I just wish I could do them all myself.

  • Vanuatu: 30 July - 17 August
    While we were able to offer two trips in 2012, we can offer only one this year. This trip is fully booked with a wait list. It may be too late for this year, but you might want to have a look and join us in 2014.
  • Sweden & Norway: 22 August - 22 September
    Last chance. If it hadn't been for two cancellations, this trip would have been a definite departure. As it is, if I don't have two more bookings by 21 June, it will have to be postponed until 2014. Click the link above and you'll see why I am so keen to do it.
    If you'd like a better idea of what it might be like, you can find links to several photo galleries from our 2012 trip on our Overseas Galleries page.
  • South Africa: October - November 2013
    The trip notes have been updated and photos added since the last newsletter. There are lots of links so you can get a better feel of what it will be like. As in the past, the trip will start in Cape Town and finish in Johannesburg. We'll use self-drive hire cars for transport. As with all our trips, it will include a number of multi-day hikes.
    The itinerary remains a work in progress. We will continue to work with all those who book to tailor the trip to their interests and make this a trip to remember for a lifetime.
    South Africa has its own Wild magazine dedicated to the country's many parks and what you can experience there. Every time I look at it, I get ideas for yet more places to visit and things to do. You can view it online at Wild Magazine.
    We need only two more bookings to guarantee departure.
  • Chilean Patagonia: December 2013- January 2014
    Have a look at the illustrated trip notes and you'll see why we all enjoyed the 2011 trip so much. What I learned on that trip should allow me to make this one even better.

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John Easton Memorial Walk

Jim Happ of the Maroondah Bushwalkers is organising a special Kakadu bushwalk in memory of my former guide John Easton who passed away on a bushwalk last year. If you walked with John and might be interested in taking part, please let me know and I'll pass your details along to Jim. Here's a bit of what he said when he wrote to me about the trip.

As a way of showing our appreciation to John and Robin for opening our eyes to the magnificence of walking in the Top End and Kimberley, we have devised a John Easton Memorial Walk in Kakadu National Park. The timing of the walk is tentatively for July 2014.

This set of backpacking walks has been designed to revisit some of John's favourite areas in Northern Australia, where he and Robin Baillie worked for a number of years as guides for Willis's Walkabouts. Although they worked in many areas of the North such as the Kimberley, Kakadu, and the Western MacDonnells, we have focussed on the Kakadu SW escarpment area for this Memorial Walk. Many of our members' fondest memories are of the Club trips John and Robin organised in this area about 13-15 years ago.

The draft of the plan at this stage is a walk of about 22 days broken down into 3 stages

  1. Stage 1: about 5 days; from UDP Falls up Waterfall Creek to the Catacombs; across to Buffalo Pool; then to Piccaninny Pools and Emerald Pool; down Barramundie Ck to Maguk to pick up a food drop
  2. Stage 2: about 8-9 days. up Gronophyllum Ck to Cascades, Graveside, then across via Surprise Falls to Twin Falls Ck near 603233. then Down to carpark, to be picked up by our support crew (doing day walks in Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks?). A side trip to Jim Jim Falls; then rest up at Garnamarr camp. This route look feasible (from Surprise Falls to Graveside is on one of Russell's walk itineraries; and has been reported in Wild Magazine); the other stretch looks similar country.
  3. Stage 3: about 9 days. our support crew brings us back to the Trackhead near Twin Falls. Boat trip up to base of Twin Falls; then up well into Twin Falls valley, then due west over to upper tributary of Koolpin Ck, including Rainforest Gorge; down to main Koolpin Ck; then down via El Sherana to Sth Alligator crossing for pickup by support crew.

The walk is staged so that people may join in /leave at UDP Falls, Maguk, and Twin Falls. We are expecting a large number of walkers, so may have to break up into groups of say 12-13 members. I have lined up about 6 Maroondah leaders, most of whom have walked in this area, as Group Leaders. We may need to set off the groups staggered by a day, or start some off at different places (or anti-clockwise?) to avoid crowding the campsites and making it easier to get permits from KNP Rangers.

Note. This is not a Willis's Walkabouts trip. It is being run by the Maroondah Bushwalkers who have told me that they would be happy to welcome others who had walked with John and Robin in the past. As above, if you are interested, let me know and I'll pass your details along to Jim.

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You and Your Health

The Next Pandemic

It's coming. All we can do is prepare as best we can and hope it's not too bad. Two recent articles on the subject explain why it is inevitable. When is another question.

Eating Red Meat

* Culprit in Heart Disease Goes Beyond Meat's Fat explains that recent, "research showed that the association between red meat and heart disease risk might be related not just to fat but also to bacteria that thrive on a component of red meat."

Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food

Studies published within the past 15 years show that much of our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients, which are the compounds with the potential to reduce the risk of four of our modern scourges: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. The loss of these beneficial nutrients did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, as many assume. Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers.

* Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food explains that "Žach fruit and vegetable in our stores has a unique history of nutrient loss." It's worth a read.


The suicide rate among middle-age Americans rose 30 percent from 1999 to 2010, with more people now dying of suicide than in car accidents. * Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in U.S. gives the full story.

Australia isn't any better. Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for men under 44 and women under 34. That says something about our society. The link is to the Suicide Statistics page on the Australian Lifeline website.

Brain, Interrupted

Does distraction matter — do interruptions make us dumber? * Brain, Interrupted reports on some of the research which leads to the conclusion that "those who can't resist the lure of doing two things at once are 'suckers for irrelevancy.' There is some evidence that we're not just suckers for that new text message, or addicted to it; it's actually robbing us of brain power."

Visit China at Your Own Risk

* In China, Breathing Becomes a Childhood Risk tells how High levels of deadly pollutants in Beijing and other cities have led parents to alter their children's day-to-day activities drastically, and some plan to leave the country."

Deja vu? I remember my first visit to Los Angeles back in 1969. I came over the hills surrounding the city and looked down into a bowl of brown soup — that soup was the air I was about to have to breathe. Scientists had worked out that if air pollution continued to increase at the then current rate, the city would be uninhabitable before the end of the 1980s. That's why California had and still has the strictest anti-pollution laws in the US. The Chinese government will inevitably take similar steps, but I can't help but wonder of those steps will come sooner or later.

The Kids Are (Not) All Right

I was stunned to read * The Kids Are (Not) All Right which reported on a UNICEF report which ranked the USA 26th out of 29 developed countries for children's well-being. I wondered how we compared and looked at the comparison page. there, i was surprised to learn that "Australia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Japan, Malta and New Zealand have not been included in the overall league table of child well-being, as they have data for fewer than 75% of the total number of indicators used." Why don't we have the data? If anyone knows, I'd be interested to hear why.

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Our Society

The Great Divide

* The Great Divide is a NY times series on inequality — the haves, the have-nots and everyone in between — in the United States and around the world, and its implications for economics, politics, society and culture. The series moderator is Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, a Columbia professor and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist for the World Bank.

The link above will take you to a page which links to a variety of articles about the growing gap between the rich and the rest. You can read the first few paragraphs, then click if you want the full article. One of the more interesting ones noted that while people were worried about inequality, "the more people focused on inequality, the less they trusted the government." I suspect we'd find something similar here in Australia.

The Freedom of an Armed Society

* The Freedom of an Armed Society explains that, in America, even after the recent shootings, gun ownership remains a mark of liberty." It also suggests that "weapons stifle the expression that the true American project requires." Think it can't happen here, think again. In NSW, the Game Council is pushing its 'Be safe, be seen' program onto children as young as five, encouraging them to hunt. The Shooters and Fishers Party have an agenda of having shooting introduced as an approved sport in our schools. I'm not sure how long it will remain on line but ABC Four Corners ran a program on 10 June called The Hunting Party. "Firearm ownership is on the increase again and part of the reason is the increased popularity of hunting. Most hunters say they want the government to open up National Parks for sport and they now have the political power to back their demands. In NSW, the Shooters and Fishers Party has the balance of power in the State's upper house. Some of their key demands involve making guns easier to obtain, and winding back restrictions on some semi-automatic weapons."

'Following' is now the hallmark of a triumphant individuality.

* Go the Same Way, or Go the Wrong Way suggests that "Gone are the days when 'conformist' was a slur. Now, if you're not following the crowd of five-star dispensers, you are a tasteless, undiscriminating shlub." The article refers to America but the world is now wired together as never before. How true is this in Australia?

What Our Words Tell Us

About two years ago, Google released a database of 5.2 million books published between 1500 and 2008. You can type a search word into the database and find out how frequently different words were used at different epochs. Looking at different kinds of words gives some interesting insights into how our society has changed over the years.

"Over the past half-century, society has become more individualistic. As it has become more individualistic, it has also become less morally aware, because social and moral fabrics are inextricably linked. The atomization and demoralization of society have led to certain forms of social breakdown, which government has tried to address, sometimes successfully and often impotently."

The full story * What Our Words Tell Us * is well worth a read.

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Lost in the cloud: How safe are your online possessions?

What you think is yours may not be. "In the digital age, your files and memories are not truly yours any more. They belong to the cloud."

The quote above is from an article in New Scientist Here's another quote from the same article. "The greatest trick the cloud's creators ever pulled was convincing the world it doesn't exist. Half of the participants in a recent survey by Wakefield Research said they did not use the cloud, and yet 95 per cent of that group actually did."

If you use gmail, hotmail or any similar service; if you use Dropbox, Facebook or any social media site, you ought to try and understand some of the implications. A good start is the new Scientist article Lost in the cloud: How safe are your online possessions?.

Erasing History

In the above, you had the story of how you can lose things you don't want to lose. The reverse is saving things that would best be forgotten. * Erasing History asks, "In the age of the almighty search engine, do we have a right to be forgotten?" It's a complex issue. Think about someone who is mistakenly arrested for something, cleared and never charged but the story of the rarest remains on the internet damning them for life. It's not exactly fair and there is usually no way to get the damning stories deleted.

If the above doesn't bother you, maybe this will — or maybe not. It depends on the individual. * What You Didn't Post, Facebook May Still Know explains that "Facebook is no longer relying solely on what its users reveal. Instead, it is tapping outside data sources to learn even more about them, and to sell more finely targeted ads." If you use Facebook, I'm not sure there is any way to counter this.

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Nature — A Celebration

Flower Power

The Sierra club website has a page called 7 of the World's Strangest Flowers. The name describes it. Worth a look.

Anyone seriously interested in Australian native plants, especially those in WA, should have a look at Florabase. This is the best reference site for WA flora that I've found.

Wonderful photography

Three great videos:

  • Wild Sweden
    If you look at this short YouTube video, you'll understand why I'm so keen to go back.
  • Dakuwaqa's Garden - Underwater footage from Fiji & Tonga
    Underwater footage shot whilst scuba diving in the Fiji islands and Tonga. Featuring colourful coral reefs, huge schools of tropical fish, sharks, humpback whales, underwater caves, scuba divers and much more marine life from the south Pacific.
    I'm not a diver but this short video made me think maybe I should take it up.
  • Goshawk
    This short video clip from the BBC needs to be seen to be believed.
And a power point presentation. Life is what you make of it *
Good photos and a message to remember when life gets a bit tough.

Mother Nature at Her Loudest

A warm welcome for the Brood II cicadas, one of the longest living insects in the world, seen only once every 17 years along the East Coast of America. When I read * Here Comes the Buzz, my mind drifted back to summer sounds when i was growing up on the edge of a park in New York. Then my mind turned to the Build Up here in the Top End and the near constant droning of the cicadas we get every year. I enjoy it along with the very relaxed style of bushwalking that suits this time of year.

Here's an ad about the Build Up I ran in a couple of bushwalking club newsletters. The special offer that was included in that ad says just what I think of this time of year.

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National Parks Under Threat

The heading above is not quite correct. The parks under threat are all state run but are called "National Parks" even though the federal government has almost nothing to do with how they are managed. The following paragraphs are from an email I received from GetUp. I think that anyone who cares about the future of parks in Australia should have a read and take whatever action they can.

Recently, State Premiers have moved to allow logging, mining, cattle grazing and amateur shooters in our parks, and things are only getting worse.

Federal Ministers have tried to step in, but often lack the legal authority to do so. That could change, but we have to act quickly. There are eight more sitting days in Parliament before the pre-election break. Realistically, the Government has to act immediately to introduce federal protection for our national parks.

Smart federal protections would give our parks an extra line of defence. It would stop irresponsible State Premiers putting short-term profits ahead of the preservation of our parks.

Without federal protection, here are some of the dangers our national parks face:

  • In Victoria:
    • the Victorian Government recently made changes to effectively sell off its national parks; a proposal that will see chunks of national park land offered in 99 year leases.[1]
  • In Queensland:
    • Campbell Newman opened 440,000 hectares of parks and reserves for cattle grazing - a practice proven to pollute waterways, trample delicate wetlands, cause soil erosion and spread weeds. [2]
    • Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney called for industry to fight green groups that are lobbying against new coal ports and dredging channels in our Great Barrier Reef. [3]
  • In New South Wales:
    • the Upper House parliamentary committee proposed logging be allowed in national parks [4]
    • Barry O'Farrell intends to move forward with his deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party that will allow hunting in NSW parks despite a review saying it will pose a significant risk to human life [5]
    • NSW rolled back protection laws allowing fishing to occur in marine parks. [6]
  • In South Australia:
    • Premier Jay Weatherill let shooters loose in national parks, leading to a young man being wounded by stray gunfire. [7]

All of this shows us that state governments alone cannot be trusted with our world renowned and cherished natural areas.

Wherever you live, national parks ought to be for everyone. Now's our chance to lock down new federal laws that will ensure that no state or territory government will be able to get away with making decisions to the long-term detriment of our parks.

Let's do something meaningful to ensure our parks are still around for our children to enjoy.

Sign the petition calling for federal protection of our national parks. www.getup.org.au/protect-our-parks


  1. Private leases plan for national parks, The Age, May 30, 2013
  2. Tony Burke unable to stop cattle in national parks, The Age, May 22, 2013
  3. Fight against green groups: Seeney, Brisbane Times, May 29, 2013
  4. Logging looms in national parks, Sydney Morning Herald, May 13, 2013
  5. Premier O'Farrell to allow hunting in NSW national parks, ABC. net.au, 31 May, 2012
  6. Recreational fishing allowed in NSW marine parks, ABC. net.au, March 12, 2013
  7. Shooting accident reignites call for hunting ban, ABC. net.au, May 19, 2013

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Looking Back

The World's Oldest Home Movie

San Francisco, 14 April 1906 This film was "lost" for many years. It was the first 35mm film ever that has come to light. It was taken by camera mounted on the front of a cable car as it`s traveling down the street. You feel as if your really there, standing at the front looking down the street, amazing piece of historic film. The number of automobiles is staggering for 1906. Absolutely amazing! The clock tower at the end of Market Street at the Embarcadero wharf is still there. .... How many "street cleaning" people were employed to pick up after the horses? Talk about going green!

This film, originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. From New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he even knows who owned them and when the plates were issued!).. It was filmed only four days before the Great California Earthquake of April 18th 1906 and shipped by train to NY for processing. Amazing, but true!

No wonder there had to be laws created to regulate driving habits. This is insane. Good thing they couldn't go very fast.

This is a fascinating movie. A camera on the front of a street car 107 years ago. Look at the hats the ladies were wearing and the long dresses. Some of the cars had the steering wheels on the right side, I wonder when they standardized on the left? Sure was still a lot of horse drawn vehicles in use. Mass transit looked like the way to get around. Looks like everybody had the right of way. This is almost certainly the oldest "home movie" that you will ever see!

Early Bushwalking in Australia

The Greenaissance website celebrates bushwalking in Australia. There are lots of old newsletters and some great stories — a great site in terms of the history of bushwalking in Australia, especially in the Blue Mountains. This is a site to be browsed at your leisure whenever it takes your fancy.

History Brought to Life

The Rijksmuseum in The Netherlands had an idea: Let's bring the art to the people and then, hopefully, they will come to see more — at the art gallery.

They took one painting of Rembrandt's from 1642, 'Guards of the Night', and brought to life the characters in it, placed them in a busy mall and the rest you can see for yourself!

Australian History — Something for Everyone

If you have the time, you could spend days exploring The Discover collections at the State Library of NSW. Scroll down the page and you'll almost certainly find something of interest.

History in our Lifetime

If you are over 40, you can remember a time before mobile phones. If you are over 50, you can remember a time before personal computers. A 1976 Apple-1 computer recently * sold for US $671,400. Who would have believed that way back when it first came out.

Going back a bit further, you come to 1963. It "was the year President John F. Kennedy traveled to Berlin to proclaim "ich bin ein Berliner" and the year he gave his famous American University speech arguing that peace was "the necessary rational end of rational men." It was the year the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke from the Lincoln Memorial of a "dream deeply rooted in the American dream." In American history, 1963 was a year rich in speeches. But of all the signature speeches that year, itís the one that has been all but forgotten that might have transformed the country the most. Fifty years ago, on Memorial Day in 1963, * Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson gave a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., that foreshadowed profound changes that would be achieved in only 13 months and that mark us still."

This story is an American one, but there are parallels here in Australia. Sometimes it's seemingly small things that have the gratest impact.

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Help — Is This a Job You Can Do?

Tourism NT, the NT Government tourism organisation, recently offered a grant to assist with online marketing with things like google Adwords or Facebook marketing. It sounded like a good idea so I applied and was accepted. Then, when I started looking at the details, I realised that I was no where near ready for that step.

Google Analytics.

Google Analytics tells me that in the month ending 16 June, my website received 2332 visits with average duration 3 min 20 sec. There were 1767 unique visitors and 7140 page views; The average number of pages visited was 3.06. While most of the visits are short, 44 were over half an hour and another 251 between 10 & 30 min. That's good. Some people are looking for and finding the kind of information that I have available.

Google Analytics says that 10 pages got 148 or more visits. Another 18 got 54 to 92 visits. In total, 165 pages received at least one visit. That last number is wrong. Google Analytics doesnít count the PDF pages — and I've got a lot of PDF pages, some of which people get to without visiting any other part of the website. Knowing how many people are visiting the PDF pages would help me improve them and assist in understanding what people are looking for.


Willis's Walkabouts has a Facebook page. There is a link to that on our main website. I know that I'm not making the best possible use of Facebook but I don't know what I ought to be doing. Anything which doesn't take a huge amount of time is worth considering if it would help.

Search Engine Optimisation

I normally come out in the top ten on most of the terms I search for, eg "Kakadu Bushwalk". Most but not all. "Trek Kakadu"which might be used by international visitors doesn't rank very well. There are other terms where I could and should rank better, but Iím not sure what they are or how to work out what they are. Without knowing that, I can't work out what I need to do to improve my search ranking.

Can you help?

I'm prepared to give a big discount to anyone who can assist with any or all of the above. If so, have a look at this background paper for a bit more detail, then email me if you think you can help or even if you simply want want more information about the problem

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News About This Newsletter


Before I finish one newsletter, I'm already working on the next. I often find that I've got too many interesting things for a single newsletter. I'm also always looking for other interesting items I can add. I'm particularly interested in environmental issues, especially those which might affect bushwalking and in the technology which is shaping our lives. As I said in the last newsletter, Suggestions welcome.

Sending the newsletter

The program I use to send the newsletters is hosted on the same server that hosts our website. 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.

For some reason, some servers block the newsletters no matter what you try and do. I send these in small groups from my normal email. It's not a simple problem. If anyone thinks they might have an idea how to overcome the problem, I'd love to hear from you.

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. The more people who get it, the more likely it is that I'll be able to run the trips which might interest you.

Best wishes to all,
Russell Willis

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