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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 77, February 2015 — Kakadu Walking Strategy

Are we facing the end of an era? The Kakadu Draft Walking Strategy, released on 20 February, is available for public comment until 20 March. If people don't speak up, this will mean bad news for overnight bushwalking in Kakadu!

If you look at only one thing in this newsletter, make it the Kakadu Draft Walking Strategy. This will affect everyone who walks in the park for ten years or more.

Note. this a shorter newsletter than most as I wanted to get the news about the Kakadu Walking Strategy out as soon as possible to give as many people as possible a chance to comment.

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 Walking Strategy — Gubara CLOSURE!

The problem is not easy to find. The primary focus of the Walking Strategy is on what most people do, short day walks. Most of what refers to overnight bushwalks is reasonable, but hidden away on page 99 (the 105th page of the document), is the item that for many will negate all the good that may come out of the rest of the document.

"During the last round of consultation, traditional owners indicated that they do not want bushwalking to occur in the Mount Brockman area beyond the Gubara Pools day walk, until cultural heritage assessments are carried out and the cultural significance of sites can be properly determined. Overnight bushwalking permits will not be issued for this area in the near future, while cultural heritage assessments are taking place." That may sound reasonable, but it is a disaster.

Consider the following.

When an early draft of this strategy was presented to the bushwalking strategy committee two years ago, I suggested what I thought was a more-than-reasonable compromise which would have closed 90% of the area while still allowing short overnight bushwalks. No change was made.

There is much more in both the summary document and the full report. You can download either or both from the official Kakadu Walking Strategy page.

Please have your say. Three or four individual comments will probably be taken more seriously than a single comment from an organisation which might represent 200.

Send your comments to kakadu.permits@environment.gov.au

Please feel free to have a look at either or both of the documents below.

You may disagree with some of what I have to say, but not making a comment tells the authorities either that you are happy with everything in the plan or that you don't care. If the government doesn't have some indication that people really do care about the future of bushwalking in Kakadu, I fear that the proposed restrictions (I'd estimate that something like 95% of the park is already out of bounds to bushwalkers) will only get worse.

All sorts of studies have already been done in the area above Gubara Pools that they are proposing to close. If hundreds of people and organisations do not send in their own individual comments, I fear that bushwalking access to this wonderful area may be lost forever.

Please make a submission to the Kakadu Draft Walking Strategy. Please do it soon so you don't forget.

Send your submission to kakadu.permits@environment.gov.au

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Now through April — Only 3 Trips Left

Last Chance Ever?

April — 2 trips left

Note. The $300 for six day specials referred to in the newsletter 75 will not run in April. I still don't have dates but hope to run the first in May. I have a list of interested people. If you'd like to go on it, please send me an email.

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Bushwalking Bits



The bushwalk.com website has a Forum page with all sorts of discussions and tens of thousands of posts. It's a great source of information.

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Your Health

Health Stars — The New Program Might Make You Sick

The Healthy Star Rating System is replacing the Tick. The health star rating is from ½ star up to 5 stars. The more stars the healthier the choice. HA!.

The program achieves the exact OPPOSITE of its intended purpose. Favouring products lower in fat and sugar by giving products full of artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, numbers and flavours a higher rating. The new program will be much healthier for the balance sheets of the processed food companies than for the Australian consumer.

Change.org has a petition aiming to stop or at least improve the proposal. The Healthy Star Rating System is replacing the Tick, let's send a strong message. There is a lot of good info on that page as well as a link to the petition.

Speak now or forever pay with increased health costs.

Oils Ain't Oils

I recently got an email which claimed that a lot of 'extra virgin olive oils' were anything but. I was intrigued enough to try and follow this up. After what I found, I suspect I'll be changing some parts of my diet.

Oils Ain't Oils was published in the Sydney Morning Herald. It begins
"Almost every fat we put into our mouths today is a vegetable oil manufactured by an industry that didn't exist 100 years ago. We are eating vegetable oil because it is much cheaper for manufacturers to make food with oils chemically extracted from plant seeds than it is to raise and slaughter an animal."

It gives the same message as a number of other things I've read recently. If you care about your health, I'd strongly recommend you read it.

Olive Oil

This began with an email that directed me to a link about adulterated olive oil. I kept going and found more and more. Here are four links. If you use olive oil, you might want to have a look and decide where you want your olive oil to come from.

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Climate and Weather

With two cyclones hitting Australia last week, it seems like a good time to consider the broader picture.

This is the best graphic description of cyclone categories that I've seen.


Scientists Trace Extreme Heat in Australia to Climate Change *
"Five groups of researchers analysing last year's Australian heat waves came to the same conclusion: They could not have been as severe without human influence."

Australian Bureau of Meteorology 2014 statistics.
2014 was the third hottest year on record. 2013 was the hottest. Something is going on.


With Dry Taps and Toilets, California Drought Turns Desperate *
"In Tulare County, hit hard by a relentless drought, daily routines have been upended by the drying of wells and the disappearance of tap water."
Don't think it matters to you? Think again! We get a lot of our off season fruit and veg from California. American demand for our food may push prices up here.
The article includes good links to more drought info. Calif may never be the same.

Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change *
"The Pentagon released a report asserting that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages."

The Risks of Cheap Water

The Risks of Cheap Water *
"Higher prices are essential to induce conservation and investment in water-saving technology and to steer water to where it is valued most."
The article is about America but it applies equally well here. We aren't charged anything like the real cost of the water we consume but we pay with the rest of our taxes. Putting the cost onto the user would lower the total cost in the long run.

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Willis's Walkabouts Dry Season Trips

If you want the latest info, please have a look at our Availability and Specials page. Rather than repeat what's there, I'll highlight two trips and an area.

Green Centre

Central Australia had widespread and heavy rain in January. Some parts just got a little more from the tail end of Cyclone Lam. This should be the best year for a visit since 2010. One of our guides loves the area so much that he's decided to take his partner and go on his own if we don't have something running.

Have a look at our Red Centre Trip List and see if one of our trips might suit you this year.

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When the Obvious is Wrong

Most social science confirms the blindingly obvious. Here are eight examples where it doesn't.
Working mums sometimes raise smarter students.
The office is often a more relaxing place than the home.
Attractive children attract less empathy than unattractive children.
Too much talent can be as bad as too little talent.
Good fences make good neighbours.
And more...

Green tape can be economically valuable. Far too many political decisions are based on gut feelings rather than fact.

Stop! Before you click the link, see how many you can guess. The five most popular NT parks. How many did you get? I live here and didn't get them all.

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Something to Make You Smile

Someone sent me an email entitled Colour No Man Could Create. I enjoyed it so much I turned it into a Power Point Presentation. Click to advance or hit esc to get out.

Here's a bike ride that makes the one in the last newsletter look tame. Even when you look at it, it's hard to believe.

When you were a child, you might have played with soap bubbles, but I bet you never managed anything quite like this.

If you didn't click it above, check out the cyclone categories graphic.

Finally, Cats and Dogs. If you don't get a smile out of any of these, there's something wrong somewhere.

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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.

Please make a submission to the Kakadu Draft Walking Strategy. Please do it soon so you don't forget.
Russell Willis

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