Willis's Walkabouts Top-Level Menu


Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 74, November 2014

The new Kakadu Draft Plan of Management is soon to be released. My next newsletter will follow shortly after that. I wanted to mention some of our wet season trips as soon as possible so rather than wait for the plan release, here is a a new one. I will have a lot more interesting bits and pieces in next month's newsletter.

We may have missed some emails or phone calls. If so, please accept my apologies. Much of this year has been a bit of a personal nightmare. Things are settling down, but I fear it's not over yet.

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.

Willis's Walkabouts logo

In this issue

The Kakadu Draft Plan of Management

The new Kakadu Draft Plan of Management is scheduled to be released soon. It should cover the next ten years. My next newsletter will follow as soon as possible after that.

Please watch for the newsletter and please have your say. Not making a comment tells the authorities either that you are happy with everything in the plan or that you don't care.

Return to top

The Wet

Unless you have experienced it, you can never truly understand what makes the wet season so special. I've been pushing the idea of walking in the Wet for 30 years. My first paying customers were on two wet season trips in early 1984. My three wet season web pages should give you a good idea of what it is really like.

Maybe the message is getting through at last. We already have bookings on six of our seven wet season trips in 2015. Two are already definite departures.

These trips range from the easiest we can offer (Kakadu Light and the first two sections of the Green Kimberley) to the most strenuous (Kimberley Coast). Advance purchase discounts are still available on them all.

Note!. Some of these pages will not display properly on small screens. If you have trouble with any of these pages, please let me know what device and screen size you were using. I can't make the website work if I don't know what's not working. Thank you.

Special Offer! Book and pay for any of the wet season trips listed above by 1 December and I'll give you anywhere from $200 to $600 off the price after you've deducted whatever discounts might otherwise be applicable. Please email for details.

Return to top

Kakadu — On Your Own, With Us, With Someone Else?

A recent email from someone who did a Kakadu walk with a bushwalking club earlier this year gave me the idea for this section. If you or anyone you know is thinking of doing a walk in Kakadu, you ought to read what follows.

On Your Own

You can organise your own bushwalk in Kakadu. If you or anyone you know is thinking of doing so, here is some essential information.

With Us

I think there are some very good reasons why most people should book with us and one good reason why some should go elsewhere.

Final thought. There must be a reason why we have the highest percent of repeat clients of any Top End tour operator.

With Someone Else

I'll begin this section with an email someone from a Melbourne Bushwalking Club sent me in early October.

"Group 1, Stage 3 walkers made the papers! Wrinkles and all!"

"In the article titled "Beyond Utopia" in Saturday's The Age, Traveller section it states that when the writer reached "Nirvana" he notes an "East Melbourne bushwalking club" was already ensconced in the prime camp spots and goes on to say: "Even more disturbing, after 6 days in the wilderness, is the sight of them stripping down to their wrinkles to skinny-dip in 'our' pool." Their pool? Wrinkles? Disturbing? Outrageous! :)"

"The article promotes the walk lead by two guys (one from Tas, one from Vic) who walked in the area 3 years earlier and have now "worked closely with national park authorities to develop this adventure." Makes it sound like they've discovered something new, yet Russell's been leading the same route for decades!"

Here's a link to the article, Trekking in Kakadu: Beyond Utopia.

So, why walk with someone else?

If you don't want to go with us, don't just look at the company above, check out Gecko Canoeing and Trekking, another local company which offers treks in Nitmiluk as well as one in Kakadu.

Return to top

How Sweet It Is — Follow Up

In my last newsletter, I had a section titled How Sweet It Is about sugar and artificial sweeteners. I had some good feedback with new links and have found other good info so here is a bit. More will follow in a future newsletter.

The September 20 issue of The Economist had an article called Saccharin solution? which says, "Sugar substitutes may mess with gut bacteria — causing obesity in the process." It's not too technical and worth a read.

Artificial Sweeteners May Disrupt Body's Blood Sugar Controls * tells how "New research in mice suggests artificial sweeteners may disrupt the ability to regulate blood sugar, causing changes in metabolism that can be a precursor to diabetes."

For more information relevant to your health see the section What's Driving the Obesity Epidemic? in this newsletter.

Return to top

Our National Parks Need Your Help


With the Victorian election about to occur, it's timely to consider what the different outcomes may mean for Victorian parks. The VNPA recently began an appeal which begins, "How many cups of coffee does it take to save a national park?"

If you live in Victoria and have any desire to see the Victorian parks preserved, you owe it to yourself to click the link above and have a read. Commercialisation of parks is ongoing in most of the country. If that matters to you, you need to express your opinion. If you say nothing, you are telling the politicians that you approve of everything they are doing to our parks.

The document above refers to the VNPA Nature Conservation Review 2014. Click the link in this paragraph and you can download the public summary, full report or any part of the report which interests you.


The situation in Queensland is much the same. They are currently running a campaign called Saving the Last of the Last. If you live in Queensland, you might want to consider givening them a hand.

It gets worse, much worse, as it's your tax dollars at work destroying the environment. Here's a bit of a message I just received from GetUp. "Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has just announced he will help pay for Indian coal mogul Adani to build Abbot Point and the Carmichael mine. In other words, Premier Newman will sell public assets to subsidise a foreign billionaire to build a massive coal port on the Great Barrier Reef coast. He hasn't given any specific figures, but we do know Premier Newman will give money that could be used on education, police or healthcare to subsidise a coal mine most analysts agree will never turn a profit."

As far as I can see the federal and most state governments are either intent on destroying Australia's tourism industry or they simply have no concept of the jobs their actions will destroy.

If you would like to help oppose this waste of taxpayer money, see Stop Campbell Newman funding Adani with your money.

Return to top

Mobile Phones Can Kill — Update

It's bad when someone kills themselves by doing something stupid with a phone. It's worse when they kill you or someone you love.

A Texting Driver's Education * explains the science behind why texting while driving is so addictive and why it is so dangerous.

Trying to Hit the Brake on Texting While Driving * explains that there is a simple technological solution. Problem is, it won't happen until people demand it. Until it or something like it is mandatory, you are in danger of being killed or injured by a texting driver every time you drive or cycle on a road, every time you cross a road as a pedestrian.

Return to top

Ludwig Leichhardt

More than a century and a half after his disappearance, Leichhardt continues to fascinate many people. Jim Happ from the Maroondah Bushwalkers recently sent me a short paper he'd written, What happened to Ludwig Leichhardt?. It's worth a read.

In October, the ABC ran a story, ANU map sheds new light on Ludwig Leichhardt expedition.

Finally as I think I mentioned in a previous newsletter, Dan Baschira, a friend who works at Charles Darwin University here in Darwin, has written a book which talks about Leichhardt's trek across what is now Kakadu, the first time it was seen by a European. There is even a link to a downloadable version of the book.

For those who are interested, the whole Leichhardt Land website is worth exploring.

Return to top

Banggerreng — The Knock 'Em Down Storm Season

April in Kakadu is known as 'Banggerreng' or 'The Knock 'Em Down Storm Season'. If you haven't already done so, have a look at our Banggerreng page and discover some of the many good reasons to visit at this time of year.

April is still more than four months away so our full 20% advance purchase discount is available on all our April trips.

We now need only two more bookings to guarantee departure on our April trip to Karijini in the Pilbara. For me, April is the ideal time to visit as there is plenty of water and the water is warm enough so you can actually enjoy the swims. For more information, please see the trip notes.

Return to top

Terrorism as Theatre

"Passion, deep belief, political protests and so forth have little meaning nowadays if they cannot be broadcast. Likewise, torture and gruesome death must be communicated to large numbers of people if they are to be effective. Technology, which the geeky billionaires of Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest claim has liberated us with new forms of self-expression, has also brought us back to the worst sorts of barbarism. Communications technology is value neutral, it has no intrinsic moral worth, even as it can at times encourage the most hideous forms of exhibitionism: to wit, the Foley execution."

If you want to make sense of something that doesn't seem to make sense, I strongly recommend Stratfor's Terrorism as Theatre.

If you'd like an in depth view of things that don't make the news at home, go to the Stratfor website and sign up for their free newsletter, Geopolitical Weekly. The link above will show you a list of recent issues. Two that I particularly recommend are
Traveling through multiple Europes and
The Similarities Between Germany and China. The Australian economy is more tied to the Chinese economy than to any other. If you want a sense of where China is likely to be heading, you should read Stratfor.

If you want more, they have a paid service as well.

Return to top

What's Driving the Obesity Epidemic?


On page 4 of the 17 July New Scientist, there was a very short article, Inactivity Drives Obesity Here it is in full. "The US obesity epidemic is due to sloth, not greed. Analysis of health surveys found increases in obesity and inactivity but not in calories. Women reporting no exercise increased from 19 to 52 per cent between 1988 and 2010. The percentage of inactive men increased from 19 to 43 per cent. Calories consumed remain constant. (The American Journal of Medicine, doi.org/tkn)"

The amount of exercise you need to lose weight and keep reasonably fit is surprisingly low — if you choose the right exercise. Don't believe it? Check out the Fast Exercise website. Better still read the book, Fast Exercise by Michael Mosley and Peta Bee. I've read it and heartily recommend it.

As for sitting, The health hazards of sitting will tell you exactly what too much sitting does to you.

Diet — Not What You Think

ABC Catalyst recently ran a program called Low Carb Diet — Fat or Fiction?. It appears that there is quite a bit of evidence that we've been given the wrong advice for the last 30 to 40 years. It's worth watching, but note, you have to watch or download it before Christmas as it will go offline then.

Always Hungry? Here's Why *
Are we fat because we overeat, or do we overeat because we're fat?

The last line in the "How Sweet It Is" section in my last newsletter was, "If anyone who reads this newsletter has tried Mosley's 'fast diet', I'd be interested in hearing what they think of it." Two people replied saying that it had helped them.

I checked out the Fast Diet website and bought the Fast Diet book by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer. From what I've read so far, I'd recommend it.

Better still, this diet is not just about losing weight. Restricting your food intake for even one day a week seems to change your blood chemistry for the better. Personally, I don't need to lose weight, but repeated blood tests over the years have shown that a few things are creeping up, still in the 'normal' range but not as good as they once were. I'm going to give it a go for at least one day a week.

Final Thought — Your Liver

"Despite major gains in fighting hepatitis C and other chronic liver conditions, public health officials are now faced with a growing epidemic of liver disease that is tightly linked to the obesity crisis."

"In the past two decades, the prevalence of the disease, known as nonalcoholic fatty liver, has more than doubled in teenagers and adolescents, and climbed at a similar rate in adults. Studies based on federal surveys and diagnostic testing have found that it occurs in about 10 percent of children and at least 20 percent of adults in the United States, eclipsing the rate of any other chronic liver condition."

"There are no drugs approved to treat the disease, and it is quickly becoming a leading cause of liver transplants around the country."

...."You have to force feed ducks to get fatty liver, but people seem to be able to develop it on their own."

.... "Im really afraid that the explosion of this condition is going to overrun the resources available to the transplant centers around the country," Dr. Busuttil said. "In the United States right now, we do about six to seven thousand liver transplants a year. Can you imagine if we have millions of people on the list? Its unfathomable."

Where America goes, Australia usually follows. Here's a link to the full article. Threat Grows From Liver Illness Tied to Obesity *

Return to top


With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, many of you will be flying somewhere. Here are a few articles which might be of interest plus a website that could make a big difference to your comfort.

Airline Seats

The smaller the seats, the more bodies that an airline can squeeze in. The more bodies they can squeeze in, the lower they can afford to drop their prices.

If you don't like the size of the seat, remember you often have a choice. The Seat Guru website allows you to compare seat sizes on major international airlines. You may have to look around a bit to find what you want, but it's worth it.

When I recently flew from New York to Darwin, my best choices were Qantas, China Eastern and Singapore. The distances between economy rows was 31" on Qantas and 32" on the others. The Qantas seats were 17" wide, China Eastern 18", Singapore 19". The space difference isn't large, but it does make a substantial difference to comfort. (Besides having the largest seats, Singapore had the shortest time. I went with Singapore.)

Sometimes it's worth checking other classes. I had to fly between New York and Sweden. Norwegian Air was the cheapest. I had a lot of baggage as I was leading a tour. Their premium economy (their highest class) gave me all my baggage for free and was still cheaper than any other airline's standard economy. How could I choose otherwise?

Of course, if money is no object, you don't have to go 'cattle class'. To the best of my knowledge, Etihad's The Residence. A one way ticket from Sydney to London will set you back a bit over $32,000 — if you can get one. When I got curious enough to try and find out how much it cost, most of the dates I checked at first were booked out. That says something about our society.

Hi Tech in the Sky

Airlines Take the Bump Out of Turbulence *
"Stronger computing power, improved satellite and radar technology and more sophisticated scientific models give airlines a greater understanding of flying conditions."

Oversize Expectations for the Airbus A380 *
"Why is the giant A380 jet wowing passengers, but not many airlines? Its maker may have made the wrong bet on air travel's future."

Flight Safety with a Difference

Some flight safety videos are a bit more interesting than others. Click the link and see if you don't agree that this is one of the best.

Why Fly at All?

In some parts of the world, you have a choice. On our recent trip to Scandinavia we took two overnight trains. Even with sleeping compartments, they were somewhat cheaper than flying. For me, trains are more comfortable and allow you to actually enjoy a bit of the landscape through which you are passing. They also cut out the trips to and from and the queues at the airports.

Australia does have one long train trip which is a bargain, especially if you are a senior. The one way fare, sharing a two berth compartment, on Queensland Rail's train between Brisbane and Cairns can be as low as something like $250. The journey becomes part of the experience.

Return to top

Filling in Our Forms — HELP!!

Our registration forms and post-trip questionnaires are designed to be filled in by hand. It would be much better if they could be filled in online or on a computer.

Earlier this year, I got some new software and created what I thought was a PDF registration form for our Madagascar trip which could be filled in on a computer. It was a disaster. It didn't work for most people.

I've filled in form fields in numerous Word documents. Most, if not all, of them have glitches in some part of the document. I've made a couple of attempts at creating a Word file for our registration form, but I have yet to make it work.

Is there some sort of form that can be filled out on any computer or mobile device that does not depend on the software that people have?

The above would be ideal, but I'd settle for something that will work for a large majority. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

Return to top

Our Place in the Universe

I always like to include something I find inspirational from the natural world. I hope you enjoy these.

The Known Universe
"This incredible video from the American Museum of Natural History takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and into the inky black of space, right out to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the worlds most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas, which is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. If you dont feel small after taking this journey, then you may have a major ego problem!"

That was the big picture. The photos from the 2014 National Geographic photo contest show a more intimate side.

This National Geographic Wild video has more wonderful shots of the other life that inhabits this wonderful world we live in.

Return to top

Russell's Family

I will begin by thanking all those who sent messages about my late nephew. I tried to reply to them all but as I was traveling, I may have missed some. If you sent a message and didn't get a personal reply, please accept my apologies.

I spent six weeks, three before and three after my trip to Scandinavia, with my sister Ann in New York. Sadly, her son's death was not the only one. Our step brother passed away a day and a half after I got back to Darwin. If his passing had been a week earlier, I'd still be in America trying to help Ann clean up the mess that he left behind.

I am doing my best to keep Willis's Walkabouts running as well as it has for nearly 30 years but my mind inevitably drifts off to my family. The following quote describes my recent life only too well.

"One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries!" — Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne.

Finally, for those who are interested, I will share three more links about my nephew Harry. There are messages there for all of us.

Return to top

News About This Newsletter


Before I finish one newsletter, I'm already working on the next. I often find that I have 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

While I now send most of the newsletters using MailChimp, I still send about 200 newsletters using a program which is hosted on the same server that hosts our website. In both cases, 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. Both MailChimp and the other program we use to send some of these newsletters have 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. One of the programs will not allow the auto delete to send me an email notifying me that a deletion has been made. If you want to be sure that you are 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.

I will finish with the same quote from my late nephew that I used the last time, "Love your life."
Russell Willis

Return to top