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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 75, December 2014, Holiday Edition

The Kakadu Draft Plan of Management has been released. See below and make your comment.

My Christmas presents to you. $300 for Six Days in Kakadu! and Fireworks Filmed with a Drone.

This newsletter has a mass of content for your holiday reading pleasure. There is far more than any single person will want to look at, but I hope that everyone on my newsletter list will find something to make them think as well as something to enjoy.

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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In this issue

The Kakadu Draft Plan of Management

The Kakadu Draft Plan of Management has been released. You can download a copy at the Kakadu Draft Management Plan page. If you scroll down the page, you will find information about how to make a comment as well as summary sheets about different parts of the plan.

One thing that some people forget which affects every single thing to do with the park is that Kakadu is Aboriginal land.Even if you read nothing else, please have a look at the Summary of the draft 6th management plan. It's only six pages and should give you a good feel for some of the issues facing the park.

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.

You can read some of my thoughts about things worth commenting on here.

While bushwalking does get a mention in several places, there will be much more of direct relevance to bushwalkers when the Draft Bushwalking Strategy is finally released. I will have something about that as soon as I can after the release.

Kakadu Fees

Like many, perhaps most, national parks around the world, Kakadu has been starved of funds to the point where the lack of money is affecting the management of the park. For this reason, park fees will rise for most visitors from 1 April 2016.

These Kakadu Threatened Species Projects are being funded through the current budget. The new fees will make it easier for the park to continue work like this.

Kakadu Visitor Guide

The Kakadu Visitor Guide is available for download from the park website.

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The Wet — Only 3 Trips Left

You've got to get in early or you don't get in at all! Of the seven wet season trips listed in our last newsletter, only three are still available.

See the Availability and Specials page on our website for discounts of up to $600 on all of them.

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.

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$300 for Six Days in Kakadu!

Two light-pack super specials, never to be repeated. I have found an unoccupied bushwalking niche. I enjoyed the little bit that I did and was inspired to come up with two new trial trips. If they work the way I think they will, they will be in the 2016 program at a much higher price.

Note. If we have to hire a vehicle instead of using our own for either of these trips, all participants, including the guide (probably Russell), will share the cost.

Does either of those sound interesting? If so, please send me an email. If I don't get any expressions of interest, neither trip will happen.

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Your Health

In no particular order, here are a few articles I found interesting. Pick and choose the ones that interest you.

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Too Young to Die, Too Old to Worry

This could have gone into the previous section, but I thought it was worth a section on its own. Definitely food for thought, especially at this time of year. Too Young to Die, Too Old to Worry * suggests that, "at some point, you have to start indulging in the pleasures of the present."

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Mobile Phones — Things to Think About

A friend sent me an email with a number of images about mobile phones. Some are poignant, some funny, all have something to say about our society, past & present. I put them into a power point presentation. I hope you enjoy it.

Mobile Madness. Click to advance to the next slide. Right click to exit.

Protect Yourself

Mobile Malware: Small Numbers, but Growing *
"A soaring percentage increase in phone infections is tempered by the fact that some basic tech hygiene will usually protect you."

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35 Genius Life Hacks Everyone Should Know

If you can't get at least one good new idea out of 35 Genius Life Hacks Everyone Should Know, your life is far more organised than mine.

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Dry Season Trips — A Big Win

The Big Win: Kakadu Circle No. 1: 3-24 May

Every season has its advantages but when people ask us when they should come, we tell them, "If you plan to come to Kakadu only once, we advise you to do it in May." For the first time in more than 20 years, we will use a helicopter to bring in a food drop for one of our Kakadu trips.

It would be a hard choice, but if I had to pick a single Kakadu trip as my favourite, it would be this one. Read the trip notes and see why. Our 20% advance purchase discount remains in effect until 3 January, so get in soon if you want the best possible price.

Definite Departures

The following trips are either already definite departures or need only one more to become definite. Our 20% advance purchase discount is still available on all but the first.

Other Australian Trips With Bookings

The following trips all have bookings but all need at least two more to become definite departures. Our 20% advance purchase discount is still available on all of these.

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I was a school teacher for 20 years. My education prepared me for the world I would enter as an adult. Today's students are not so lucky. Back in August, two of John Mauldin's free newsletters Go to 'Our Publications' on the top and you'll get a drop down menu listing the free ones.)touched on the subject of education and how it is failing students today. What he wrote about America is just as relevant in Australia.

If you have school-age or pre school-age children or grandchildren, you owe it to them to read the three links below.

To sum it up, "From the perspective of the Long View, our education system is completely broken. We are not training our children to deal with the future, and we are not helping people transition into sustainable independence. Our welfare and disability rolls are growing faster than new jobs are being generated." It may be that becoming something like a plumber will be both more financially rewarding and less stressful than many white collar jobs.

You canít fix stupid, but you don't have to teach it.

Lost in the Past * talks about the importance of learning history. While the article is about America, I suspect it applies just as well to Australia.
"It's not just students who don't know history. Opinion leaders, corporate titans, politicians, media personalities and educators — dunce caps for all."
"Those who don't understand the past are doomed to repeat it."
"Many Americans canít even place the Civil War in the right half-century, or think we fought alongside the Germans in World War II."
"Immigrants may know more about history than fifth-generation natives. To pass a citizenship test, they are required to learn things about the glory and infamy, the power and abuses — the operating system — of this democracy. It's not too onerous to ask the same thing of 18-year-olds across the land. You can't fix stupid, as the comic line goes; but you donít have to teach it."
As an aside, to become an Australian citizen, you must score 75% or better on a set of 20 questions. Why not test yourself and see how you go.

A Few More Interesting Articles

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WW Overseas Trips

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Flying — The Next Stage

"Flight crew error has been implicated in about half of all fatal airline accidents." The obvious answer, get rid of the crew.

New Scientist had an interesting article Who's flying this thing? End in sight for pilots. a few months ago. It's not going to happen in the next few years, but unless our whole technological society breaks down, it will happen. The article is well worth a read.

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Technology that Affects or Could Affect You

A 'Democratic' Government Seizing Your Money

I'll start with the scariest one. Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required *
"Using a law designed to help catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners."
Ordinary people going about their ordinary business are being destroyed by overzealous tax agents.
Does the ATO have similar powers? If not, it could happen here if something gives the government the trigger they need to enact the necessary legislation.

Big Brother is watching

But, unless you are an insurance cheat, this could mean lower car insurance premiums. If you are in an accident and the airbag deploys, there is a device similar to an airline black box which will give information about what happened just before the accident. Read the RAC Insurance report for details on one case.

Identity Theft

A Two-Step Plan to Stop Hackers *
"You may not be able to keep your digital credentials from being stolen, but there are options for keeping a cyberthief from using them successfully."

Internet Access on Outback Bushwalks

I'm not sure that I like the idea of people using their smartphones on our walks but it may happen in the not too distant future. Google to test internet balloons in Australia begins, "The company will test-fly 20 balloons in western Queensland in December in partnership with Telstra. It's the latest step in Project Loon, Google's plan to beam internet to remote parts of the world via helium balloons that circle the globe on stratospheric winds."

Too Much Knowledge?

The Peril of Knowledge Everywhere *
"Technology is taking us to a legal and social crisis. It's not just that we have unprecedented amounts of data about all kinds of things; innocuous public data can be combined with other information to reveal personal things. Will knowing become a problem?"

Renewable Energy — A Somewhat Unforeseen Challenge

Sun and Wind Alter German Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind *
"Germany's renewable-energy push has had an impact far beyond its shores, driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago." Renewables are still a relatively minor power source in mainland Australia. That will change. Better to plan ahead than to find ourselves in the German position.

Smallpox Comeback?

Resurrecting Smallpox? Easier Than You Think *
"The virus's genome is already online. You just need the right lab."

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Our Place in the World

What happens in the rest of the world affects us all.

Geographically, Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. According to Wikipedia, by population, we rank 53rd with less than one third of one percent of the world's population. We depend on trade for many, perhaps most, of the goods we consume. Our alliances mean that we often follow the lead of the US. Whether or not this is always in our best interests is a matter of debate.


Australia sends incredible quantities of coal and iron ore to China. In US dollars, the price of iron ore had dropped by almost 50% in the past year. According to New Scientist "the world could be approaching peak production of coal after Beijing decided to ban coal use in six central districts from 2020." (NS #2982, p 5). This has to affect our entire economy.



Russia is nowhere near as strong as the old Soviet Union, but it is still a major power which has nuclear weapons. The West does not understand Russia and makes assumptions that have little to do with reality. What Russia does may well have worldwide consequences.

The World Economy

Dollar surge endangers global debt edifice, warns BIS
The Aussie dollar has been dropping relative to the US dollar, but other currencies have been dropping faster. In a world which has become so dependent on international trade, this could create a huge problem.

The Revenge of Geography

The Revenge of Geography is few years old but it helps explain many things that have happened since then and many things that will happen in future.
"People and ideas influence events, but geography largely determines them, now more than ever. To understand the coming struggles, it's time to dust off the Victorian thinkers who knew the physical world best. A journalist who has covered the ends of the Earth offers a guide to the relief map — and a primer on the next phase of conflict"


Many of the articles above are from Stratfor's free Geopolitical Weekly. It costs nothing to sign up and you will get insights that you will never see in the popular press. Or, if you don't want to sign up, simply click the link and scroll down to see if there are any articles which interest you. It's worth going back many pages.

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Great Photos & Quotes


Some of these may take a while to download. Be patient. They are worth it.


On politics

"Since a politician never means what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word." Charles de Gaulle

"A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar." H. L. Mencken (Minority report)

On freedom

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use." Soren Kierkegaard

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." Gloria Steinem

The freedom quotes are from a museum display about freedom and censorship in Oslo, Sept 2014.

The Grand Finale

Four incredible minutes. Watch it in HD if you can. Fireworks Filmed with a Drone

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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

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.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, to you all!!
Russell Willis

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