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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 89, February 2017 — Farewell Tommo

With new trips appearing and old ones disappearing almost by the day, I put off sending this until I had most fixed. See Last Chance for the situation as it is the day this newsletter comes out.

This is another big edition so you can come back again and again to browse whatever takes your fancy. Having a careful look at the contents could be well worth your while.

If you have very young children, the most important article here is the one on peanut allergy at the beginning of the Your Health section. One of the most intriguing is the map link at the beginning of the President Trump section.

My personal favourite is The Intellectual Yet Idiot about the people who run things and why they really have no clue.

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

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In this issue

Peter 'Tommo' Tomlin

Yet another of our former guides is no more. On Christmas morning, I got the news that Peter 'Tommo' Tomlin had passed away of an apparent heart attack two days earlier. On the day he died, I'd been cleaning out some old papers and had come across a report he'd written about a medical evacuation on a trip he led for me in 2001. That was the closest we've ever come to a fatality on one of our Kakadu trips. Tommo handled it as well as anyone could have done in the circumstances. If it hadn't been for his efforts, the woman might have died.

Tommo led bushwalking tours for me in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While he was an excellent guide and loved guiding, he felt that he needed something that would pay enough to set him up for retirement someday. It's still hard for me to believe that he's gone at the age of only 47.

The last trip Tommo led for me was a 3 week Kakadu expedition in January 2004. Purely by chance, I led first half of that same trip this January. Over the next 6-8 years, we tried to work out another trip that would fit in with his time off, but could never make it happen.

We kept in touch on and off about things relevant to bushwalking, especially in Kakadu, over the years. I always hoped that he'd be able to find time to come and lead another trip some day. Now all that's left is memories of an amazing person and wonderful tour guide.

If you'd like to know a bit more about a great human being, see this timeline that his family put together.

If you knew Tommo and would like to pass along any message to his family, please email me and I'll pass your thoughts along to his family.

Final note. One of Tommo's last big adventures was an attempt to walk south to north across Australia in 2015. He made it more than half way. His Tommo's big walk facebook page was still online when I wrote this newsletter.

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Last Chance

April - May

Only three trips remain available. All will be confirmed or cancelled by mid March.

June - July

First time ever. I've never had to cancel trips this far out before, but we've had so many enquiries about charters that I can't possibly run all the advertised trips if all the charters actually take place. Every trip that's still on our trip list is still available. Get in soon if there is a trip you'd particularly like to do or you might miss out. The following trips already have bookings. All but the first are already definite departures or need only one more booking to become so.

August Onwards

All trips remain available. Unless there are cancellations, one of those is already a definite departure.

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Your Health

Peanut Allergy

Feed Your Kids Peanuts, Early and Often, New Guidelines Urge *
"Peanut allergies are responsible for more deaths from anaphylaxis, or constriction of the airways, than any other food allergy. Though deaths are extremely rare, children who develop a peanut allergy generally do not outgrow it and must be vigilant to avoid peanuts for the rest of their lives."

Parents should feed babies foods containing peanut powders or peanut butter at 6 months or even earlier as a way to help avoid peanut allergies.


Health Data

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President Trump

Who Voted For Trump

While Clinton won a majority of the popular vote, by area Trump took 85-90% of the country. Here's an amazing map showing who voted for who. *

While I think that many of Trump's appointments leave a bit to be desired, two seem to stand out.

James Mattis — Secretary of Defense

If Mattis can survive in a Trump administration, I have hope for America. Here are two articles that tell you why.

I wish him well.

Some of Trump's proposals have a lot of merit — and a lot of opposition from members of Congress. As Trump Embraces Term Limits, Allies in Congress Pull Away *. This article was published in November. I haven't heard much since. Time will tell if he is willing to push things like this.

Trump has already signed an executive order to scrap two regulations for each new one adopted. ** In principle, I like the idea. In practice, new regulations might simply be twice as complex as the old. Time will tell. In terms of over-regulation, Australia is probably as bad or worse. It's getting harder and harder to get permission to run my trips. A couple of informal Darwin running groups may be banned from using some public places as they don't have insurance. And on it goes.

Will the real Donald Trump please stand up

This was too good to leave out. This short, somewhat humourous, video sums up the new administration better than anything I've seen Will the real Donald Trump please stand up. Prepare for a wild ride.

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The End of Cash

What the U.S. can learn from India's move toward a cashless society
I've seen an increasing number of articles extolling the benefits of doing away with cash. Personally, I don't like the idea. Think of what would happen if someone managed to hack into the system and brng it down. The end of civilisation as we know it.

Ending Airport Passport Queues

Facial recognition, fingerprints to replace passports at airports
"The new biosecurity measures that will change how Australians travel. How your passport could soon be replaced by fingerprints, iris and facial recognition under plans for a new self-processing system"

One less hassle, but if the aircraft get much larger, think of the extra hassle for anyone with baggage.

Too Connected?

Technology and Work

Too Powerful?


The Internet and the Tragedy of the Commons

The Internet and the Tragedy of the Commons
"The promise that the internet would create a democratic commons where all can be heard and the media loses the right to censor has been achieved. Censors and accountability no longer exist. Twitter is the place where malicious people with time on their hands can tell lies." "I frequently wonder if the person from Twitter being quoted in a news story is a 12-year-old whose medications are no longer effective. The media doesn't know. There are still worthwhile conversations to be had there, but many people now becoming less engaged." "Social media is now subject to Gresham's Law: Bad ideas will drive out good ones. This can't go on." "... if the tech community believes that it is so dependent on internet privacy that it can't budge on this issue, then it is as deluded as the major media has been. Someone broke into the power grid and we don't know who. Enough is enough. Wars have been started over less."


What Was the Greatest Era for Innovation? A Brief Guided Tour *
"Which was a more important innovation: indoor plumbing, jet air travel or mobile phones?" — This makes a great read. Highly recommended.

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Bushwalking in Australia

The End of Bushwalking Clubs?

Could Adventure Activity Standards kill off outdoor clubs? The short answer is yes.

The information here is from a Wild Update newsletter.Click the link here or at the beginning of this article to read more. I've been following AAS developments for some years. When I hadn't heard anything for some time, I thought that some sensible arrangement had been made for clubs. No such luck. Speak up now, or forever hold your peace.

Mosquito Repellents

Mosquito repellents: Choose the right protection for you and your family. Some work much better than others. The article here has good info.

Bushwalking 101

National Parks Association NSW quietly launches 'Bushwalking 101' website
"A new, online bushwalking how-to guide has appeared recently without fanfare, yet Bushwalking 101 may well be the easy-to-use online resource many aspiring adventurers have been waiting for."

The three articles above are from a Wild newsletter. I find them interesting and informative. There is a link to subscribe at the bottom of the pages above or simply click here to go straight to the subscription form

The End of an Era?

On 31 January, I received an email saying that Wild was up for sale. If no buyer can be found, it is conceivable that it will cease publication. The letter finished with, "If any of our supporters would care to express their interest in purchasing Wild, please send an email with your contact details to John Blondin via jblondin@mediatitles.com.au." A small advertisement in Wild was what gave Willis's Walkabouts its start. The magazine has provided a wonderful service to bushwalkers for over 30 years. It would be sad to see it disappear.

Print maps: Disappearing over the horizon? was another Wild article. While there are many reasons why digital is superior n some respects, there are other areas, such as giving a good overview of a large area, where print is better. I'll be sad if print maps finally disappear entirely.But, for now, we still sell print maps of the areas where we go as well as many others. Please ask if you want one. If we don't have it in stock, we can probably get it in.

Luxury Bushwalking

A friend recently sent me this article from the Australian Financial Review along with the comment, "Here's something that might interest you (for your newsletter) it's been all the talk down here with the bushwalkers. It appears that the "men in suits" are wanting exclusive use of areas in National Parks. Not sure if you are aware that the 3 Capes walk in Tassie owned by the National Parks people has effectively shut out non paying walkers by limiting camping areas so that it is now a 25 km walk into the first camping area! And these guys want to put more up-market huts in the areas as well as elsewhere, including Uluru and Kata-tjuta."

While I have no objection in principle to the kind of luxury walks they are developing, I do have a strong objection to private groups being given exclusive use of parts of our national parks which are supposed to be for everyone. The full article is 11 pages, but well worth a read.

Like it or not, there is a demand for 'luxury' walking. Hikers embrace Tassie's Three Capes Track notes that, "In its first 12 months, the Three Capes Track has been walked by people from over 50 countries and welcomed its 10,000th walker on New Year's Eve." People in government looking for money from wherever they can get it can't fail to take notice. That may mean yet more restrictions on what you can do without paying a substantial amount of money.

Trans Tarkine Track

The Bob Brown Foundation has proposed a 10-day Trans Tarkine Track opening up the area to visitors. If you click the link, please be sure to click the link the page contains to a 2½ minute video showcasing some of what would be included. I think it's a great idea, but can't help but wonder whether or not someone would try and turn it into an exclusive luxury experience similar to the ones above.

If you want more info on what you can do yourself, they put out a Tarkine Trails book.

For now, if you don't feel up to organising a trip yourself, Tarkine Trails offers three different walks in the Tarkine.

Bushwalking Fitness

Increasing the all-important strength-to-weight ratio is from another Wild newsletter. "In this article, we'll explore the benefits and reasons why strength training is an absolute must for your outdoor activities, whether you're out on the walking trails, competing in an ultra or on your first alpine ascent." Read it or regret it.

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Our Former Guides — Where Are They Now

Tommo's passing gave me pause to reflect on some of the other great guides who have worked for Willis's Walkabouts over the years. Six are no longer in the land of the living. The ones below are. If you did a trip with us in the earlier years, you might know one or more of them. They are the people who helped make the business what it is today. Here's the first installment. More in a future newsletter.

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Our Overseas Trips

We have now more or less finalised three overseas trips for 2017.

There Will Be More.

If you think you might be interested in any of the above, please send me an email and let me know your comments, suggestions questions or other thoughts.

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Retirement — Nasty Surprises on the Way

We live in an aging society. That has consequences. Peter Costello's 'Future Fund' was an attempt to come to grips with the problem of paying for the promises that past governments had made. Far better than nothing but other things have made it less effective than it should have been.

When it comes to pensions, Australia is in a better position than countries like America, China and Japan but some of their problems are ours as well. The articles here are all relevant to anyone who may wish to retire some day.

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We are what we eat. Two very different stories, both of which may affect you.

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Thoughts On Our Society

Few people will want to read every article here but I'd be willing to put money on a bet that at least 80% of those who take the time to browse through the content will find at least one link that will interest them.


twainquotes.com is full of interesting quotes. If keen, you could wander the site for hours.

Between the Occasional Calms of Democracy
Problems and conflicts around the world won't go away just because of a change in the US president.

Why the World Needs WikiLeaks *
You can't have a democracy without an informed population. "The world is connected by largely unaccountable networks of power that span industries and countries, political parties, corporations and institutions; WikiLeaks shines a light on these by revealing not just individual incidents, but information about entire structures of power." There's more. Well worth a read.


The first article in the Technology and Work section was about how our educational system is failing to prepare children for the world they will live in. Here are two more interesting ones.

The End of Globalisation?


Unintended Consequences

What Can You Do?

The Intellectual Yet Idiot

The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a piece by one of my favourite authors, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I've mentioned his books in previous newsletters, most recently in Newsletter 65. His article begins, "What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking 'clerks and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think ... and 5) who to vote for."

For what it's worth, this is my favourite article out of all those here. I haven't read it yet, but Taleb's book The Bed of Procrustes looks like it should be worth reading. While looking for more info, I came across The Black Swan Report which has links to a number of Taleb's articles. I've had a look at a couple. These are worth a serious read, not something you skim through slowly. Here's a taste from one called 'The Domination of the Stubborn Minority'.

"It suffices for an intransigent minority — a certain type of intransigent minorities — to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences." He goes on with lots of examples. I can't fault anything he said. Definitely worth a close look.

Along somewhat similar lines is the 1 January issue of The Credit Strategist.
"We live in an inauthentic world yet people perceived to be telling the truth are demonized and shunned by the establishment. The fact that it took everybody so long to figure out that mainstream media promoted 'fake news' to support their own political agenda is testimony to the fact that we claim to seek authenticity but settle for insincerity, falsehood and duplicity in our personal, business and civic relationships. Those of us who refuse to settle are considered 'difficult'. We term experts people whose credentials consist of being consistently and wildly wrong about the subjects of their alleged expertise while exhibiting a stunning lack of self-doubt and humility about their failures. 'Often wrong but never in doubt' is the mantra of the technocrats and bureaucrats who lead us into one disaster after another while dismissing dissenting voices."

The author has some very strong opinions. Some bits I agree with some I don't, but agree or not you should listen to opposing views or you risk getting caught by your own 'confirmation bias' and missing something that might help you cope with the ever more uncertain future we all face.

PS. Here it is. The first person who quotes this when they book any 2017 Australian trip worth more than $1000 will get an extra $100 off.


"For the new generation coming of age in the late 1960s, 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" represented their view of the world." As they became more political, they got censored more and more. Eventually, despite high ratings, the show was cancelled.

The Smothers Brothers: Laughing at Hard Truths * tells the whole story. I think the last few paragraphs are worth repeating.

"Lyndon Johnson, too, had been enraged by the Smotherses' barbs. But when he announced on March 31, 1968, that he would not seek re-election, the dynamic between the president and the brothers shifted substantially.
Tom Smothers recalled being so stunned by Johnson's TV address that he wrote him a letter, saying that he disagreed with him on the Vietnam War, but was impressed by his other accomplishments and wanted to thank him.
Johnson responded with a letter that Dick read on the last episode. "It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation," Johnson wrote, "to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives."

When I read that, I couldn't help but wonder how many of today's politicians would respond in a similar manner.

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Those We've Lost

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Photos, Videos & Just for Fun

Photo Competition Winners

More Photos


How could I resist when a 13 year old is inspired to do a 7½ minute video about the Kakadu Family charter his parents organised in 2016. Their walk was very much like our Kakadu Family Walk No. 2.

If you've ever thought about bringing your children on one of our walks, you owe it to yourself to watch this.

Massive lava stream exploding into ocean in Hawaii. Click the link in the article to watch the video. I've never before seen a video of lava flowing like this.

Watch This in the Sky

Best meteor showers of 2017. Only one was in January so most are still to come.

David Attenborough

The many animals named after David Attenborough There were too many plants to include them all in the one article along with the animals.

I recently watched a TV show called Attenborough's Ark in which he highlighted ten very unusual species well worth saving. This link will take a while to download but should let you watch it at your leisure.

Words of Wisdom

Joburg Motorists Get Daily Inspiration from Chalkboard Wisdom!
Well worth a browse. Sample, "If you have a gun, you can rob a bank. If you have a bank, you can rob everyone."

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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 — March? April?

I definitely want to get another one out before things start to get really busy in May. I've already got a few things ready. As I've often said, 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.

Best wishes to all.
I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Russell Willis

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Willis's Walkabouts, 12 Carrington Street, Millner NT 0810, Australia walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au

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