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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 88, December 2016 — Christmas Special

It will be at least February before I manage to put out another newsletter so I've made this a bumper edition so you can come back again and again to browse whatever takes your fancy.

While every single article here was interesting to me, there are two that I would especially recommend: the first article in Our Digital World and the first one in Happy News. The first contains one of the scariest statistics I've ever seen, the second tells the story of someone you probably never heard of, someone who made a real difference to the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people. The last story in Australia Is Number One! has a statistic which every voter should be aware of.

However, if someone close to you has some form of dementia, you really need to read the article on talking to people with dementia in the Your Health section.

Restricted content. Articles marked * or ** are on restricted websites Click for more info.

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In this issue

Have a SAFE Holiday

Everyone knows that accidents peak during holiday times. Here are a couple of things that cause accidents that you might not have thought about.

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Happy News

Christmas should be about far more than spend, spend, spend. Here are a few feel good stories to help put you in the proper holiday mood.

Good News About Australian Wildlife

Here's a quote from an email I got from Bush Heritage Australia. "We'd just like to say thank you! It's all because of you that we're able to share this great news. For the first time in almost 100 years, a Night Parrot fledgling was spotted and photographed at Pullen Pullen Reserve." Here are a few links to stories about it.

It's more than night parrots. How I discovered one of the greatest wildlife gatherings on Earth in far-north Queensland has some interesting photos and tells of an Australian wildlife spectacular few people have ever heard of.

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Wet Season — Russell's Last?

The Big One

While I hope to keep leading trips for some years more, I've got to recognise that I'm not getting any younger. Maybe, I'll need to restrict myself to some of the easier ones — but not quite yet. In January, I'll be leading Kakadu Super Circle No. 1, the longest, hardest and most spectacular trip we offer in Kakadu. This is the only trip anyone offers which allows you to visit Jim Jim Falls at its spectacular wet season best. Unless Kakadu changes the rules, you can't get there on a shorter trip.

It's not just me. Marian Lester, a long term guide and friend who used to run her own bushwalking tour business has decided to come along as an assistant. Like me, this could be her last major wet season expedition.

There may be more. If he can get permission to fly in with the food drop, guide Andy Peart will join us for the second half. We might finish with almost as many guides as clients.

Our Easiest Wet Season Trip

Time has almost run out for Kakadu Light: 5-18 February 2017. I enjoy this trip. If I weren't already committed to the Super Circle, I'd have offered to run it for as few as two. Unlike me, guide Cassie Newnes needs to be paid so, if we don't have three more bookings by the evening of 23 December, we'll have to cancel and refund the money to those who have paid.

Special offer. We need those last bookings so we'll give a $700 discount to anyone booking by 23 December. New price, $2295.

Want a better idea of what these trips are like?

Scroll down our Facebook page and you'll see some photos that Don butcher and I posted recently.

March — Time Is Running Out

We still have two trips available in March. Guides Cassie & Don are both keen but we can't run either without more bookings. I'll have to confirm or cancel by close of business on 5 January.

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Sex and Society

Without sex, there is no society. That being said, it's interesting to see how laws and attitudes toward sex have shaped our world.

How panics about pictures of naked women shaped the Web as we know it **
"The World Wide Web turned 25 in August. For most of the years since it came online, its destiny and evolution have been inextricably intertwined with nude photos. The sexualised female body has, from the beginning, been the catalyst for attempts to regulate what's on the Web, ultimately shaping what the Internet looks like today."

Politicians like to talk about the importance of marriage, but they pass laws which encourage people not to do so. Is My Uber Driver Holding Back the Housing Market begins, "Why are so many young adults today willing to make perhaps the biggest commitment of all — having a child together — before getting married?" It goes on to show how existing laws in America impose major financial penalties on couples who do get married. I'm not sure exactly how the Australian laws work, but I suspect that there is something similar going on.

Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy *
"Forget dinner and a movie. We're treating dating like an unpaid internship."

Our society has an extraordinarily difficult time communicating about sex. This little video explains the problem of consent in a very different way.

Being Young

13, right now ** tells what it's like to grow up in the age of likes, lols and longing in America. Australia must be similar.

What got me even more was a link in that article to 'What's a tbh? — Terms we had to explain to our editors when reporting these stories. **
It begins, "When we started our reporting on teens and technology, we were feeling pretty confident: We're both (relatively) tech-savvy millennials, glued to our phones and plugged into pop culture. Then we actually talked to teenagers, and realized we are The Olds." In those terms, if you're over 40, you're ancient.


Nudity and sex are not synonymous. But, times change. Once it was very common for a majority of those on our trips — and on trips with the Darwin Bushwalking Club — to swim in the nude when away from public places. Now it's a minority.

Are you old enough to remember Number 96, the 1970s TV show that featured a lot of nudity. It couldn't be broadcast now. On the other hand, it was the first TV show in the English speaking world to show something which is much more accepted today. The link tells all.

While people in Australia may have become more sensitive about nudity, there are still a fair number of free beaches. Attitudes around the rest of the world vary greatly.

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Your Health


We tend to eat more sweet things at holiday times. Food for thought.


Too much of a good thing?

Food and Diet

Your Sense of Smell

"In a recent survey of young adults, just over half said they would rather lose their sense of smell than their access to technology, like laptops or smartphones." Little do they know. Try to imagine living in a world where nothing had any real flavour — all you'd get would be sweet, sour, etc. Fresh bread, chocolate, fruit, good wine — none of them would mean anything any more. If you missed it when it first was broadcast, have a look at ABC Catalyst's Smell — Our Most Underestimated Sense. I only caught up with it recently and was very glad I did.

Balance and Exercise


The Insomnia Machine *
When medicine fails, where can the sleepless turn?


I had a section on Aging in Newsletter 86. The final article there talked about people with dementia. Here's a great follow on. Answering the same questions over and over: how to talk to people with dementia

Dying Younger

Reversing long-term trend, death rate for Americans ticks upward **
Australia tends to follow America in a lot of ways. Will we do this as well?

Not yet please, but dying is something we all have to do. World's best and worst places to die ** ranks countries by their quality of palliative care. There were a few real surprises.

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A 'Post-Truth' World

Fake News and the Internet Shell Game *
'Post-truth'. The dictionary defined it as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

While the whole idea of a post truth world is a serious one, there is a lighter side.


Zardulu is apparently a person who likes creating viral hoaxes. I came across this article in the Washington Post in December. She staged a viral story. You fell for her hoax. She thinks that’s beautiful. ** It wasn't a new story at all.

Real or not, she does have a Facebook page. Below are three of her hoaxes.

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Australia Is Number One!

Private debt in Australia — We're No. 1

We're number one and that's not good.

While a large percent of Australian debt relates to real estate, credit cards with their high interest rates account for far too much. It's not the rich who pay that interest. High incomes run up relatively less debt on major cards.

Developed economies seem to depend on people spending money they don't have to buy things they don't need. It will be painful when that merry-go-round finally stops. But we'll be better off overall when it finally does.



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Our Trips From April Onwards

We have a problem, maybe two problems. We can't run a trip unless we know we have the bookings to run it well in advance. That's why we offer such big (20%) advance purchase discounts. But, with more and more people unwilling or unable to commit far enough in advance, it's becoming ever more likely that we will have to cancel trips that would have run. If anyone has an answer, please let me know.

The second problem may not be one at all. My phone (08 8985 2134) is due to migrate from copper to NBN fibre shortly. If all goes well, nothing will change. If there is a problem, the number might cease to exist for a while. Emails, however, will still get through. Now to the trips.


April is normally the time when the wet season gives way to Banggerreng — The Knock 'Em Down Storm Season. Roads begin to open. Waterfalls and creeks are still flowing well. The storms are intermittent, short, sharp and over so fast that it's a good time for walks. We still have several trips available but only one has bookings and one has someone interested.

May and Beyond

While we have at least one booking on lots of trips, only two are already close to being definite departures.

Something New

We hope to have two new trips on offer when the next issue comes out. Watch for the update.

Want More Info

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Our Digital World

Green It's Not

How clean and green is our digital world?
"Today's technology looks so slick and clean as it brings magic to your screen. But behind the scenes, our data comes at a cost," says Dr Karl.
"the energy used by the cloud is about 2 per cent of the world's energy. If the cloud were a country, it would be sixth in the world in terms of energy consumption — after the USA, China, Russia, India and Japan, but ahead of Germany and Brazil.
By itself, Google uses more power than the country of Turkey. This energy consumption is increasing at 12 per cent per year."

Social Media

There is a lot of argument as to the value of social media like Facebook but the one thing everyone can agree on is that social media have made some people very rich. Here are a few things you might want to think about.

You Are Being Watched

The Internet Of Things

While connecting ever more devices to the internet had benefits, there are downsides as well.

I've seen stores close when they couldn't use their electronic checkouts. If I were a terrorist seriously intent on bringing down western society, I'd be working on knocking out the banking or electric infrastructure. It would take us years to recover from a major shutdown.

Reason To Hope

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Aboriginal Australia

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Every one of the following had something I didn't know. There should be at least one interesting link here for everyone.

Your Money Being Wasted

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There's a great collection here. Should be something for most people.

By Air — Flight Delays

Some of the following will make you glad that you're not in America. Others apply just as well here in Australia.

By Sea

Maria Island Ferry service Tasmania. Increased services will be good for bushwalkers.

On Land

SUV-ival of the richest: our obsession with big cars
They are about to overtake ordinary passenger cars in sales. I don't understand it. Big ones are terrible to park. I don't drive one in Darwin unless it's unavoidable. No wonder traffic is getting worse.


Seems a strange place to find it, but last December, New Scientist ran an article about tipping called Tipping point: The trouble with fatuous gratuities. Well worth a read.

If you're going to America, be prepared. A tip of less than 15% makes you look cheap. 20% is becoming common. Be prepared, have a look at A guide to tipping in the US. Even though I grew up in America, the increase in the percentage of your bill that you're expected to leave as a tip still leaves me a bit disconcerted. On the other hand, people like waiters don't earn the minimum wage and depend on tips for their livelihood.

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A Dream Come True?

Watch the Dolmio Pepper Hacker and see what you think.

When I saw the video, I did some research. Here's what I found.

Something similar is beginning to creep into live performances. Your Phone's on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show. * "Yondr, a lockable pouch, holds fans' cellphones during a performance, making it impossible to take photographs, shoot videos or send text messages." Personally, I like the idea.

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Photos, Videos & Just for Fun

Something to Think About
Click each image to go to the next.

New York Above 800 Feet *
"A city on an island, teeming with cash and ego, has nowhere to go but up. And up. And up." This links to other articles as the tale goes on.

What does your name mean? New site shows origins of your surname.
"This free search engine has a treasure trove of information on surnames from all over the world. Find out all about yours here."

Americans Are Not Stupid

But some of them might be a bit ignorant. As someone who grew up in America, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Click here and see what I mean.

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News About This Newsletter

Restricted websites. 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 (**).

Next Newsletter — February?

I'll be out bush for most of January so I can't get it out before February at best. I'm always looking for 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. (MailChimp Free only allows 2000. The commercial version costs too much for an extra 200 people.) 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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