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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 85, August 2016 — Last Chance

We've only got one trip left before Christmas. I've made it something special.

If you know someone with dementia or know someone who is close to someone who has it, I highly recommend 'Fraying at the Edges' in the section on Aging.

If you find it hard to find the time to keep fit, click the link to the ABC Catalyst program, "Fit in Six Minutes a Week" in the Health section below.

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. The Washington Post also has a limit but I'm not sure what the current limit is so I've marked Washington Post articles with a double red asterisk (**).

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In this issue

Last Chance for 2016

We have only one trip available before Christmas. I've made it something extra special.

This trip takes place during Gunumeleng or the Build Up. Click the link to see why I enjoy bushwalking at this time of year.

You might even get paid one million dollars if you join us. For details, see the Million Dollar Fish website.

Stop Press! I was almost ready to send this when I thought, I really want to do this trip. I need three people to do it, so I'll give a $700 discount to the first three who quote this newsletter, book and pay on or before 19 August. New price $1995. After the first three, it goes back to $2195.

You can find all the forms you need to book on our How to Book page.

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Our Wondrous Weather

Our climate is different. While we do our best to tell people what the weather will be like, some things are way beyond the norm.

The wet season was well below average. On the other hand, Darwin got more rain in May than in April — unusual to say the least. The average temperature in February in Kakadu was hotter than 90% of the years. That was cool. January, March, April, May and June were all the hottest on record.

Over in the Gulf of Carpentaria,'Shocking images' reveal death of 10,000 hectares of mangroves across Northern Australia. This was probably due to heat.

Over in Queensland, Over a third of coral is dead in parts of the Great Barrier Reef **. Fortunately, the southern part of the reef seems to be in much better shape than the north.

Following on from that, Fixing reef could cost $16 billion: investigation. It's worth asking, "How many jobs depend on it?" and, "How many millions of dollars does visitation to the reef bring into Australia each year?"

Good news? A La Niña weather system should hit Australia later this year bringing cooler temperatures and a lot more rain. That should make the coming wet season a lot better than the last one.

If you like playing with graphs and climate, the Met Bureau map page links to month by month maps of both rainfall and temperature so you can get a good picture of what actually went on.

Climate Change

Last year was the hottest year on record. This year looks as if it will be hotter still. One of the things about climate change which doesn't get enough attention is water.

World Bank: The way climate change is really going to hurt us is through water. **
"4 billion live in regions that face conditions of 'severe' water scarcity during at least some part of the year." The drought I saw when I visited southern Africa earlier this year was probably the worst on record. When relatively rich countries like South Africa have problems, it's going to get a lot worse in poorer ones.

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The 75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin

19 February 2017 will be the 75th anniversary of when World War II came to Darwin. The government of the day played it down as they didn't want the southern population to panic. It's only in recent years that the scale of the attack and those that followed have gained wider attention. Here are three sites that give more information.

There will be special commemorative services on 19 February. I expect that this site will be updated as the date draws closer and that there will be a fair number of veterans coming back.

We have two trips timed to allow participants to visit some of the WWII sites and attend the commemorative service if they wish.

Final thought. Combine our trip with a bit of fishing and you might have a chance of catching one of the tagged fish mentioned in the first section of this newsletter. Last season, ten of the $10,000 fish were caught.

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Kakadu News

Visitor Survey — Give Bushwalkers a Voice

Kakadu is doing a visitor survey. If you did a trip to Kakadu this year, please fill it in. They don't get a lot of feedback from bushwalkers so I thought I ought to encourage as many as possible to fill in their survey.

Click here to go to the survey.
Note. Participants can enter the draw for a Kakadu merchandise pack.

If you know anyone else who has been to Kakadu this year, please pass this link along.

New WiFi in Kakadu

Our Kakadu Circle group in July was one of the first to be able to use the new WiFi installation at Gunlom. It is "a joint initiative between Parks Australia and the Northern Territory Government, making it easier for visitors to get all-important travel info on the go!"

WiFi@Gunlom is limited to the day use area, during daylight hours only (solar power). "visitors can now share their holiday highlights through social media using Kakaduís official hashtag #SeeKakadu."

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Normalcy Bias

Are you willing to think?

There is plenty of research showing that many, if not most, "people constantly disregard any facts or data points that don't match their underlying assumptions, especially when those data points would disrupt a long-held belief or worldview.

I'm well aware of most of my own biases and try and make myself read things which contradict them every so often. It's not always easy so I'll repeat a link and comment from my last newsletter, Googling Is Believing: Trumping the Informed Citizen *
The way the Internet affects our minds can be more subtle. It "can get you to information that would back up almost any claim of fact, no matter how unfounded. It is both the world's best fact-checker and the world's best bias confirmer — often at the same time. Group polarization on the Internet is a fact of digital life. Liberals 'friend' liberals and share liberal-leaning media stories and opinions with them; conservatives friend conservatives, and do the same."

The term describing this is "normalcy bias" — we look for things which agree with our opinions. I googled the term "normalcy bias" and had a look through the first four pages. The three best articles I found were all on the first page.

There was an interesting op-ed piece in the NY Times, The Liberal Blind Spot. * "As I see it, we are hypocritical: We welcome people who donít look like us, as long as they think like us. .... the torrent of scorn for conservative closed-mindedness confirmed my view that we on the left can be pretty closed-minded ourselves."

Close-mindedness on all sides is what is fracturing American society in a way that has never happened before. It's already begun here.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you challenged your mind by deliberately trying to see the merits in an argument with which you disagreed?

"My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts." Sometimes the 'facts' aren't really facts at all. I only recently came across an article from The Conversation last December. Sorting Facts from Fiction in 2015. It's worth a read.

I'll finish with a story that will definitely challenge some beliefs. Your kid is way more likely to be poisoned by crayons than by marijuana **
I'll let the title speak for itself. It's worth a read.

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The Wet Season

By the time the next newsletter comes out, it may already be too late for some of our wet season trips. If you have 15 minutes or more to spare, the best place to begin is with our Wet Season page. This links to a second page which links to a third. By the time you've read them all, you will have a real understanding of what the wet season is like.

Warning. These pages are not designed for mobile devices. You'll get much more out of them on a full size screen. The following three trips need a special mention. If you are at all interested, make sure you click the links to the PDF trip notes at the end of the last two pages.

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Children in the Bush

A Wild newsletter recently ran an article 7 things to remember when taking kids on adventure. It's a topic dear to my heart which I've dwelt on for years.

This year we've had two family group charters where couples from overseas have brought their children along to experience the Kakadu bush. That's great, but why didn't we get any Australian families this year? If we don't teach our kids to love the bush, they won't feel any incentive to protect it when they are older.

Several of my guides have brought their own children on trips. They know what it's like. As for the children, here's a ten year old boy's view of one of our Kakadu Family Trips.

To get an even better idea of what the trips are like, have a look at our Kakadu Family Walk page.

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Who Really Reads Anymore?

While cycling along a few days ago, I noticed a young girl walking to school with her face buried in a book, a real printed book. That got me thinking about just how rare a sight that is these days.

According to an article in The Washington Post, 6 in 10 of you will share this link without reading it, a new, depressing study says. **I agree, that is a depressing thought.

That article links to Forget click-bait. We're living in the world of share-bait now. ** Again, it's well worth a read.

This affects everyone who comes on one of our trips.

We send out masses of written information which we believe is important. The way some people either weren't prepared or were surprised at some of what they found makes me wonder if I should put a big bold heading at the start of everything we send out, "If you don't want to read EVERYTHING we send you, we'd rather not have your business."

Maybe that's a bit too much, maybe not. Someone recently pointed out a contradiction in one set of trip notes where the transport listed in the main body was different to that listed in the itinerary at the end. When we changed the transport, I missed one of the references. It took at least five years for someone to notice.

I hope to begin a major revision of our Bushwalking Guide later this year. Hopefully adding photos and a few links will make it easier to read and understand.

What works for me may not work for you! It would help a great deal if a few people would be willing to read and comment on the new drafts as they come out. If you'd like to be involved, click here and send me an email.

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Overseas Trips


While we no longer have the expertise to run trips to Vanuatu, I did get an interesting email from one of our past clients, Corrina Sheleen. "Robert Ravoun is the Vanuatu local on the island of Malekula who owns and runs the first third of the Vanuatu trips WW has run over the past few years. This portion is known as the Man Bush Trail and consists of a couple of walks. The business is completely owned and run by Robert and he attempts to make a small living from it."

"Myself and Shane have designed a website, Manbush Tours for Robert, to help advertise his business. If you would be willing to post a link that would be great, or even if you just refer people inquiring about Vanuatu to his website I am sure he would greatly appreciate it. (Corrina appears in the photo on the home page.


Scandinavian Christmas: December 2016 - January 2017
Two of my regular clients who did a trip to Scandinavia last Christmas were recently raving about it. Several people have already expressed an interest. If you think you might also be interested in a two to three week trip to Scandinavia in late December or January, please email us.

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Making Sense of America

While much of this section is about America, it all has something to say about western society in general.

The Protected vs the Unprotected

In my last newsletter, the American Society section had a link to an article about the 'protected' vs the 'unprotected'. If you didn't read it, doing so might help make sense of what follows.

The Best Politicians Money Can Buy?

Are members of Congress becoming telemarketers?
"Stop fundraising, start working," says Fla. Rep. David Jolly, who is seeking to ban federal-elected officials from dialling for dollars.

It's not as bad in Australia, but we seem to be moving in that direction.

What a Society Chooses to Spend Money On Says a Lot

In America some states spend more money on prisoners than college students. **

Policing in America

You've read the headlines about the shootings. Here are two stories that dig a bit deeper.

President Trump

Theoretically, the president's power is quite limited. And if Elected: What President Trump Could or Couldn't Do * In practice, the commander in chief has more power than you might think.

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome

This series of three articles sets out some interesting parallels between America today and Rome in its declining years. Whether or not you agree with the author, it should give you something to think about.

As someone who grew up in America but who has now lived in Australia for more than 40 years, my return visits make me feel that the author may be onto something. It doesn't feel quite like a single country any more.

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There should be something here to interest almost everyone.

Your Doctor Might Kill You

Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in United States. ** I don't think it's as bad in Australia, but we keep somewhat different statistics so it's hard to be sure.

He beat leukemia. But then, mysteriously, things got really bad. **
It would have been very easy for the correct diagnosis to have been missed and a life wasted.


Too Clean is Bad for You

Educate Your Immune System *
"Our bodies are confused by this 21st-century world .... Preventing autoimmune disorders may require emulating aspects of that 'dirtier' world."


Fit in six minutes a week was a program on ABC Catalyst. I found it fascinating. There are links to specific training programs in link at top of the transcript. There are also links to several scientific studies at the bottom of the transcript page. This also links to original video.

Alcohol — Amazing Statistics

One in five Australians consume three quarters of the alcohol
"The top 10 per cent of drinkers had increased their proportion of alcohol consumed from 48.9 per cent in 2001 to 53.2 per cent in 2013." About 20% of Australians don't drink at all.

It's even more extreme in America.Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you. **
In the US, 30% don't drink at all. Top 10% drinks about 75% of the total. "The top 10 percent of American drinkers - 24 million adults over age 18 — consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.

Tech affects health in ways you might not expect


Hoarding is a serious disorder — and it's only getting worse in the U.S. **
It's hard, but I'm in the process of getting rid of some of the masses of things I've accumulated over the years.

I've got almost every magazine and bushwalking club newsletter I've advertised in over the past 30 years. If you think you might be interested in any of them, drop me a line and I'll send you a list.

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Your Money

At lease one of the items below is almost certain to affect you.

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Photos & Videos

The Power of the Mind

A friend sent me this weird reading test. I had almost no trouble reading any part of it. How about you? What does that say about our minds?

Units of Measurement

The 'Feedback' column at the back of New Scientist magazines often refers to odd units of measurement. One of the best was that a Saturn 5 rocket used fuel at the rate of 3.16 elephants per second. What a thought. It's only 11 seconds. Enjoy.

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News About This Newsletter

Next Newsletter — When?

Later this month? October? November? I have almost enough left over for a short newsletter later this month. I'll be in Madagascar all of September, so no chance I'll do one then.


The Times, They Are a Changin'. I expect some fairly major changes to next year's program. Get in early if you have a trip you'd particularly like to do. Or wait and see what great, new or changed trips we have to offer. Suggestions always 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.

Best wishes to all,
Russell Willis

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