Benefits of Mindfulness

It’s a busy world. You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work, and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that forsythia is in bloom along your route to work?

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness.

Ancient roots, modern applications

The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.

Professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health attitudes and behaviors.

Hurricane Harvey: National flood insurance renewal likely and emergency funding bill on tap

Hurricane Harvey may go down as one of the worst natural disasters to hit the United States, but it’s also likely to be a catalyst to push Congress to renew the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and start preparing an emergency funding bill for

those affected by the storm, FOX Business has learned.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office assured to FOX Business that the program responsible for 4.9 million policyholders, including more than 590,000 in the state of Texas, will be reauthorized.
“Details are still being worked through, but the flood insurance program will be reauthorized,” AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for Ryan, said.

Strong went on to say they expect to create an emergency finance package for the victims of the hurricane, but noted they still need to wait until President Donald Trump’s administration makes that request.

“We will help those affected by this terrible disaster. The first step in that process is a formal request for resources from the administration,” Strong said.

The House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and the group that is expected to lead the effort in preparing an emergency funding bill, told FOX Business in a statement they’re ready to help but are also in a holding pattern until they get guidance from federal agencies.

“My Committee stands at the ready to provide any necessary additional funding for relief and recovery. We are awaiting requests from federal agencies who are on the ground, and will not hesitate to take quick action once an official request is sent,” Frelinghuysen said.

The insurance program was created 50 years ago after private insurers declared they would not risk catastrophic flood losses. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the organization has $1.7 billion to pay claims and only $5.8 billion left that it can borrow from the U.S. Treasury.

Beyond the issues over the limited amount of money they can borrow, NFIP is continuing to ramp up its debt. The program already owes the Treasury approximately $25 billion from previous weather disasters, including Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Sandy alone initially cost $8.4 billion, according to the FEMA website.

It’s unclear whether congressional lawmakers will manage to pass anything other than a temporary renewal to the program set to expire on Sept. 30 or if it will be part of a larger debt ceiling increase, which must be completed by Sept. 29 to avoid a government default.

The guarantee by Ryan’s representative will be welcome news for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, yet it could cause concerns for those who were expecting broad changes to the flood insurance program because of the limited time Congress has before they run into a litany of fiscal deadlines, including the renewal of the NFIP.

Members of Congress only have 12 working days after they return from their August recess to not only raise the debt ceiling and reauthorize the NFIP, but also determine how they’re going to fund the government and renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Still, Texas representatives insist that the devastation from Hurricane Harvey should be incentive enough to move ahead with comprehensive reform to the insurance program.

The House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), told The Wall Street Journal “a long-term reauthorization is within our means and capacity. We have an opportunity to open up this marketplace to competition and to make it more affordable.”

The Biology of Sleep

Your body’s natural daily rhythms are regulated by structures in the brain that help determine when you fall asleep and wake up. People progress through a series of distinct physiological stages during sleep. Each stage of sleep serves an important purpose in keeping your brain and body healthy. During the night, these stages of quiet sleep alternate with periods of REM (dreaming) sleep. Quiet sleep is important because it helps restore the body, while REM sleep restores the mind and is important for both learning and memory.
Your internal clock (circadian rhythms)

Certain brain structures and chemicals produce the states of sleeping and waking. For instance, a pacemaker-like mechanism in the brain regulates circadian rhythms. (“Circadian” means “about a day.”) This internal clock, which gradually becomes established during the first months of life, controls the daily ups and downs of biological patterns, including body temperature, blood pressure, and the release of hormones.

Circadian rhythms make people’s desire for sleep strongest between midnight and dawn, and to a lesser extent in midafternoon. In one study, researchers instructed a group of people to try to stay awake for 24 hours. Not surprisingly, many slipped into naps despite their best efforts not to. When the investigators plotted the times when unplanned naps occurred, they found peaks between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Most Americans sleep during the night as dictated by their circadian rhythms, although many who work on weekdays nap in the afternoon on the weekends. In societies where taking a siesta is the norm, people can respond to their bodies’ daily dips in alertness with a one- to two-hour afternoon nap during the workday and a correspondingly shorter sleep at night.

Light. Exposure to light at the right time helps keep the circadian clock on the correct time schedule. However, exposure at the wrong time can shift sleep and wakefulness to undesired times. The circadian rhythm disturbances and sleep problems that affect up to 90% of blind people demonstrate the importance of light to sleep/wake patterns.
Time. As a person reads clocks, follows work and train schedules, and demands that the body remain alert for certain tasks and social events, there is cognitive pressure to stay on schedule.
Melatonin. Levels of melatonin begin climbing after dark and ebb after dawn. The hormone induces drowsiness, and scientists believe its daily light-sensitive cycles help keep the sleep/wake cycle on track.

Stress Relief Guide

#Sometimes just thinking about embarking on a program of stress control can be stressful. Rather than freeze in your tracks, start small and bask in the glow of your successes. Give yourself a week to focus on practical solutions that could help you cope with just one stumbling block or source of stress in your life.


Pick a problem, and see if these suggestions work for you
Frequently late? Apply time management principles. Consider your priorities (be sure to include time for yourself) and delegate or discard unnecessary tasks. Map out your day, segment by segment, setting aside time for different tasks, such as writing or phone calls. If you are overly optimistic about travel time, consistently give yourself an extra 15 minutes or more to get to your destinations. If lateness stems from dragging your heels, consider the underlying issue. Are you anxious about what will happen after you get to work or to a social event, for example? Or maybe you’re trying to jam too many tasks into too little time.
Often angry or irritated? Consider the weight of cognitive distortions. Are you magnifying a problem, leaping to conclusions, or applying emotional reasoning? Take the time to stop, breathe, reflect, and choose.
Unsure of your ability to do something? Don’t try to go it alone. If the problem is work, talk to a co-worker or supportive boss. Ask a knowledgeable friend or call the local library or an organization that can supply the information you need. Write down other ways that you might get the answers or skills you need. Turn to CDs, books, or classes, for example, if you need a little tutoring. This works equally well when you’re learning relaxation response techniques, too.
Overextended? Clear the deck of at least one time-consuming household task. Hire a housecleaning service, shop for groceries through the Internet, convene a family meeting to consider who can take on certain jobs, or barter with or pay teens for work around the house and yard. Consider what is truly essential and important to you and what might take a backseat right now.
Not enough time for stress relief? Try mini-relaxations. Or make a commitment to yourself to pare down your schedule for just one week so you can practice evoking the relaxation response every day. Slowing down to pay attention to just one task or pleasure at hand is an excellent method of stress relief.
Feeling unbearably tense? Try massage, a hot bath, mini-relaxations, a body scan, or a mindful walk. Practically any exercise—a brisk walk, a quick run, a sprint up and down the stairs—will help, too. Done regularly, exercise wards off tension, as do relaxation response techniques.
Frequently feel pessimistic? Remind yourself of the value of learned optimism: a more joyful life and, quite possibly, better health. Practice deflating cognitive distortions. Rent funny movies and read amusing books. Create a mental list of reasons you have to feel grateful. If the list seems too short, consider beefing up your social network and adding creative, productive, and leisure pursuits to your life.
Upset by conflicts with others? State your needs or distress directly, avoiding “you always” or “you never” zingers. Say, “I feel _____ when you _____. ” “I would really appreciate it if you could _____. ” “I need some help setting priorities. What needs to be done first and what should I tackle later?” If conflicts are a significant source of distress for you, consider taking a class on assertiveness training.
Worn out or burned out? Focus on self-nurturing. Carve out time to practice relaxation response techniques or at least indulge in mini-relaxations. Care for your body by eating good, healthy food and for your heart by seeking out others. Give thought to creative, productive, and leisure activities. Consider your priorities in life: is it worth feeling this way, or is another path open to you? If you want help, consider what kind would be best. Do you want a particular task at work to be taken off your hands? Do you want to do it at a later date? Do you need someone with particular expertise to assist you?
Feeling lonely? Connect with others. Even little connections—a brief conversation in line at the grocery store, an exchange about local goings-on with a neighbor, a question for a colleague—can help melt the ice within you. It may embolden you, too, to seek more opportunities to connect. Be a volunteer. Attend religious or community functions. Suggest coffee with an acquaintance. Call a friend or relative you miss. Take an interesting class. If a social phobia, low self-esteem, or depression is dampening your desire to reach out, seek help. The world is a kinder, more wondrous place when you share its pleasures and burdens.
Practice meditation on the go

Meditation can evoke the relaxation response, and it appears to have health benefits as well. It’s also simple to perform. Here’s how to get started:

Choose a mental device to help you focus. Silently repeat a word, sound, prayer, or phrase (such as “one,” “peace,” “Om,” or “breathing in calm”). You may close your eyes if you like or focus your gaze on an object.
Adopt a passive attitude. Disregard distracting thoughts or concerns about how well you’re doing. Any time your attention drifts, simply say, “Oh, well” to yourself and return to silently repeating your focus word or phrase.
Now slowly relax your muscles, moving your attention gradually from your face to your feet. Breathe easily and naturally while using your focal device for 10 to 20 minutes. After you finish, sit quietly for a minute or so with your eyes closed. Then open your eyes, and wait another minute before standing up.
Try to practice this meditation daily for 10 to 20 minutes, preferably at a specific time each day.
Try a mini-relaxation

Mini-relaxations can help allay fear and reduce pain while you sit in the dentist’s chair. They’re equally helpful in thwarting stress before an important meeting, while stuck in traffic, or when faced with people or situations that annoy you. Here are a few quick relaxation techniques to try.

When you’ve got one minute

Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.

Or alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself “I am” as you breathe in and “at peace” as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of the chair.

When you’ve got two minutes

Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply, saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.

When you’ve got three minutes

While sitting down, take a break from whatever you’re doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.

When you’ve got five minutes

Try self-massage. A combination of strokes works well to relieve muscle tension. Try gentle chops with the edge of your hands or tapping with fingers or cupped palms. Put fingertip pressure on muscle knots. Knead across muscles, and try long, light, gliding strokes. You can apply these strokes to any part of the body that falls easily within your reach. For a short session like this, try focusing on your neck and head.

Start by kneading the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders. Make a loose fist and drum swiftly up and down the sides and back of your neck. Next, use your thumbs to work tiny circles around the base of your skull. Slowly massage the rest of your scalp with your fingertips. Then tap your fingers against your scalp, moving from the front to the back and then over the sides.

Now massage your face. Make a series of tiny circles with your thumbs or fingertips. Pay particular attention to your temples, forehead, and jaw muscles. Use your middle fingers to massage the bridge of your nose and work outward over your eyebrows to your temples.

Finally, close your eyes. Cup your hands loosely over your face and inhale and exhale easily for a short while.

When you’ve got 10 minutes

Try imagery. Start by sitting comfortably in a quiet room. Breathe deeply for a few minutes. Now picture yourself in a place that conjures up good memories. What do you smell—the heavy scent of roses on a hot day, crisp fall air, the wholesome smell of baking bread? What do you hear? Drink in the colors and shapes that surround you. Focus on sensory pleasures: the swoosh of a gentle wind; soft, cool grass tickling your feet; the salty smell and rhythmic beat of the ocean. Passively observe intrusive thoughts, and then gently disengage from them to return to the world you’ve created.

Keep a gratitude journal

Reflecting on the positive experiences, feelings, and relationships in your life can bring you greater joy. A gratitude journal is a good way to acknowledge the things that brighten your life and help you turn your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings.

Keep a journal by your bed so that at the end of each day, you can spend five to 10 minutes writing about something that you were grateful for in your day. Savor pleasant sights, sounds, and experiences—a sunset, the birds chirping outside your window, a hug from your child, or a call from a friend.

Celebrate accomplishments large and small—learning to master a new hobby, doing well on a project at work, or getting the kids off to school on time.

Conjure up the scene in your mind and try to write about it in detail. Then, spend a few minutes soaking in the experience again. You can also use this journal to reflect on things from the past that you are grateful for.

Deflate cognitive distortions

When you recognize negative thoughts cropping up, take the following steps.

Stop: Consciously call a mental time-out.
Breathe: Take a few deep breaths to help release burgeoning tension.
Reflect: Ask some hard questions. Is this thought or belief true? Did I jump to a conclusion? What evidence do I actually have? Am I letting negative thoughts balloon? Is there another way to view the situation? What would be the worst that could happen? Does it help me to think this way?
Choose: Decide how to deal with the source of your stress. If distortion is the root of the problem, can you recognize this and let go? Think about the goose in the bottle (see page 22). Is the problem or constraint a real one, or is it one of your mind’s making? If the problem is real, are there practical steps you can take to cope with it? Practicing a mini-relaxation (see page 41) may also help.
Make a worry box

Everyone gets distracted by worries and concerns, but sometimes these worries can spill over, seeping into the fabric of your day. Having a place to contain your worries—quite literally—may help you set them aside so that you can focus on the more pleasurable or meaningful parts of your life.

Begin by finding or making a worry box. Any box will do. This is a great exercise for children, but youngsters may find it even more appealing if they can decorate the box as they like and keep it in a special place.
At the end of the day, take a few minutes to write down two or three of your concerns on slips of paper and place them inside the box. Or if the box is handy, you can write down worries as each crops up and drop your worries into the box throughout the day.
The worry box allows you to mentally let go of your worries. Once your worries are deposited in the box, try to turn your attention to other matters.

What you do with your slips of paper is up to you. Some people choose to throw out the notes without reading them again, while others benefit from looking through them periodically before tossing them away. In that case, you may be surprised to find that most of your worrying was fruitless; the scenarios you imagined never came to pass.

Use mindfulness to reduce workday stress

Given the rapid pace technology has enabled us to achieve on the job, it is not surprising that roughly 75% of Americans cite work as a significant source of stress in their lives, according to a 2007 national poll by the American Psychological Association.

Try these tips to take the edge off the stress you feel during your workday:

While driving to work, do a body scan. Loosen your death grip on the steering wheel, lower your tensed shoulders, and let your tight tummy relax.
Stay in the right lane, and travel just at the speed limit.
After you park, stay in your car for a minute and orient yourself to your day before going in to work.
Throughout your workday, monitor your tension levels and stress warning signs. Consciously try to relax and let go of your tension.
Take a five-minute break every few hours, but use this time to take a walk instead of simply pausing.
Deliberately set aside a few minutes every hour or two to take some deep, diaphragmatic breaths.
Have a mindful lunch in a new location, eating slowly and enjoying your time with yourself.
At the end of your workday, think back on the day and acknowledge and congratulate yourself on your accomplishments.
As you are driving home, be conscious of whether or not you are rushing. How does it feel? Try to slow down and relax.
When you arrive home, change out of your work clothes, take some deep breaths to center yourself and, when possible, allow yourself five minutes of quiet before delving into activities there.
Harness the power of your mind

If you are feeling stressed or are in pain, these visualization exercises may help. They are especially effective once you have elicited the relaxation response, because your brain is calmer and more focused, and you tend to be more open to suggestion and new information. Try making a recording of these visualizations—either in your own voice or that of a friend whose voice you find soothing.

Up, up, and away: Hot-air balloon visualization

Imagine that you are standing beside a grassy meadow. Now, allow all of your senses to be present. Pay attention to every detail. Is it chilly outside? Can you see your breath? Or is it a warmer time of year? Is it sunny or cloudy? Continue to use all of your senses as you enter the meadow. What sounds do you hear? The wind? The rustle of leaves underfoot? Or the songs of birds or insects? Does the air smell of flowers? Or of dampness or leaves?

In the middle of the meadow is a colorful balloon. Come closer to it. Look carefully at the pattern of colors. You can choose to stay in the meadow and rest, or take a ride in the hot-air balloon.

If you choose to take a ride, slowly step into the basket. You see two small sandbags on the floor; on each sandbag are written words. Bend over and pick up one of the bags. This bag represents a burden, concern, or stress in your life. Notice what the words say, and then gently toss this bag over the side of the balloon basket. As you let go of the sandbag, the balloon gets lighter and lifts off the ground. Pick up the other sandbag. Notice what this bag represents. Toss this bag over the side and then sit comfortably down in the basket. The balloon gets lighter and rises higher in the sky. You notice that with each burden you release, you also feel lighter and lighter just like the balloon. As you feel lighter, you begin to relax. Your muscles relax, and your mind becomes quiet. You might drift quietly among the clouds, floating lightly, feeling content, peaceful, and free of worries. Perhaps you choose to travel to a special or safe place. Sit quietly for several minutes, and continue to savor this time of silence with yourself.

It is time to begin your journey home. Remember that the balloon does not need the sandbags in order to land; there is no need to collect your burdens. Just leave them where they dropped. As the balloon slowly glides back toward the meadow, remember how it felt to release your burdens and concerns.

Focusing on how you felt during the balloon ride will help you repeat the experience when you feel stressed again in your daily life. Gently step out of the balloon and walk slowly back through the meadow, paying attention to your surroundings and being mindful of the experience of the moment. As you reach the edge of the meadow, transition back into the room, and become aware of the sights, sounds, and smells around you.

Evaporating pain: Visualization for headache sufferers

Close your eyes and try to imagine what your headache looks or feels like. Imagine that it is a hard steel band weighing down your forehead, eyelids, and nose. It is so hard that it is difficult for you to move the muscles in your face.

Now, you notice a dim, blue light appear. It settles above the hard steel band of headache and locks onto it. As the blue rays target your headache, the hard surface begins to soften. Gradually, it becomes softer and more pliable. You notice movement in the band like ripples on a lake. Take a few slow breaths, allowing the muscles of your face to relax.

The light continues to melt your pain. You feel your forehead loosen slightly as the hard band releases its grip. Now, the entire band is liquid, and it begins to evaporate. Your eyelids and forehead feel lighter as the liquid turns to steam, rising above your head. Your entire face relaxes as you see the last of the liquid disappear above you. You are engulfed in a soothing vapor. Your head and face feel light and relaxed, and you can breathe easily.

Now, focus on your breath. Take a few more slow, diaphragmatic breaths, paying attention to how peaceful and relaxed you feel. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes, stretch, and resume your day.

Developing your personal plan for stress relief

Having a personalized stress-relief plan can help you manage stressful situations better and even prevent stress from building in the first place.

Whenever you notice symptoms of stress, take a moment to do the following:

Stop and breathe. Can you identify a specific stressful event?
Reflect. What were your automatic thoughts? Write these down. Were there any distortions?
Choose. Ask yourself: Is there another way to think about this situation? Can you use an affirmation? What steps can you take to reduce your stress level?
Notice how you feel now and write it down. Congratulate yourself for coping with the situation better.
Remember to take one step at a time. The more you practice, the easier the process gets.

While these steps can help you manage stress when it strikes, you’ll also want to apply the techniques you’ve learned in this report on a regular basis to keep stress at bay. You’ll get the best results if you elicit the relaxation response every day for 10 to 20 minutes.

This short guide can help you start to do this by working these and other key components of an effective stress management program into your daily routine. Practicing these techniques regularly may put you on the path toward a more peaceful, joyous, and healthy life.

Aim to try a variety of techniques, so that you can find the ones that work best for you. Let the first column of the chart refresh your memory of the primary techniques that help disarm the stress response. Then decide what you’re willing to try and when you can do it. Even small changes—penciling in a few mini-relaxations to break up daily tasks, reconnecting with a friend over lunch, or taking a mindful walk—are important steps toward your goal. By writing down what you noticed after taking these steps, you can encourage yourself to keep at it. Try your plan for one or two weeks before you make any changes.

What if you don’t stick to the schedule you’ve drawn up? Try not to feel discouraged. Consider what got in the way and whether you set out to do too much. Ask yourself what strategies could help you circumvent these obstacles next week. Finally, embrace what felt good and find the opportunity to repeat it.

What you need to see when exploring WA’s Kimberley

A bird’s eye view of the Lake Argyle caravan park.

IF you really want to get away from it all, remote places to visit and stay in WA’s Kimberley region are perfect for a caravan and camping holiday.

MITCHELL RIVER NATIONAL PARK

The park contains amazing waterfalls, Aboriginal rock art and sites of cultural significance to the Wunambal people. No Kimberley adventure would be complete without a visit to the spectacular Mitchell Plateau, including a sightseeing adventure to Mitchell and Mertens falls and Surveyors Pool.

The park is only open in the dry season, usually April to mid-October and is accessible by 4WD vehicles only.

Caravans are not permitted due to road conditions, but off-road camper trailers are allowed.

MITCHELL FALLS CAMPGROUND

The campground has campsites with fire rings and wood provided for cooking. There are sealed vault pit toilets and water available from Mertens Creek.

Water (collected at a point upstream) should be boiled before use.

PRO TIP: Walk to the falls and arrange to take a chopper ride back to the campground to experience a stunning view of the falls.

LAWLEY RIVER NATIONAL PARK

The park is east of Mitchell River National Park and accessible via foot only, usually from the Mitchell Plateau Airstrip.

Anyone entering the park requires permission from the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation and the Department of Parks and Wildlife. The park has no facilities and no trails with the trip truly a Kimberley bush experience, recommended for experienced bush walkers.

DRYSDALE RIVER NATIONAL PARK

The large park, split down the middle by the Drysdale River, is east of the Kulumburu Gibb River Road.

There are no roads going into the park and no facilities or trails in the park. Access to the park is via the Carson River Station and then by foot.

All people entering the park require permission from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and the station owners to access Carson River Station.

PRINCE REGENT NATIONAL PARK

Found in one of the most pristine areas of the Kimberley, this park has not had many visitors due to restricted access up until 2009.

It is only accessible via helicopter and requires permission from the Department of Parks and Wildlife to enter.

All visitors planning to hike overnight in parks in the Kimberley must fill in a Remote Recreational Activities in the Kimberley Form. Call the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Kununurra office on 9168 4200 or Broome office on 9195 5500 for further information.

FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS

CHARLES KINGSFORD SMITH MAIL RUN

Mount Augustus forms part of an epic WA road trip. Photo: Tourism WA.Source:Supplied

The 800km Kingsford Smith Mail Run trail provides a real feel for WA’s outback, with a smattering of history to make things more interesting.

In 1924, Charles Kingsford Smith once trundled along this very route on his mail run. It can be a lonely road, but the highlights are worth the trip.

Here’s a chance to follow one of his smaller trails.

DAY 1 — CARNARVON TO MT AUGUSTUS (451KM)

Leaving the port town of Carnarvon, start your Kingsford Smith Mail Run adventure by heading east through pastoral land to Gascoyne Junction, where huge sheep stations dot the landscape. Travel on to Mt Augustus, a massive monolith twice the size of Uluru. Arrive in time to watch the sun sink over the 1750 million-year-old Mt Augustus.

DAY 2 — MT AUGUSTUS TO MT GOULD (100KM)

Spend some time exploring the rock formations, caves and indigenous art scattered throughout the Mt Augustus area. As well as spring wildflowers and native wildlife viewing, this is also a popular spot for swimming, fishing and picnics. From here, head south to the Gascoyne River and Landor, famous for its races. Follow the current mail route via Mt Gould and the Mt Gould Lock Up.

DAY 3 — MT GOULD TO MEEKATHARRA (160KM)

Journey south through the vast, timeless outback to the gold mining town of Meekatharra. Take the Meeka Rangelands Discovery Walk Trail and explore rocky outcrops, view native wildlife and marvel at the displays of spring wildflowers.

● NOTE: Parts of the track are only suitable for high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles and should only be attempted by confident drivers. Supplies and services are limited and road conditions can vary, so plan ahead, stock up on food, water and fuel and contact the local visitor centre for up-to-date track information.

● Before heading off into the remote desert areas of Australia, you will need to obtain permits, enabling you to travel through private and Aboriginal lands. Get more information about permits for Aboriginal lands or visit the Australian National Four Wheel Drive Council. And to ensure you enjoy a safe and well-planned journey, be sure to take a look at road safety and important travel tips.

LAKE ARGYLE

A DIAMOND IN THE ‘NOT SO’ ROUGH

Infinity pool at Lake Argyle Resort.Source:Supplied

COVERING more than 900sq km and surrounded by the rugged landscape of the mighty Carr Boyd Ranges, Lake Argyle is home to more than 270 bird species and an array of wildlife in a thriving ecosystem.

It’s Australia’s largest freshwater expanse with Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park nestled on a cliff top overlooking it.

The park is open all year-round and features various accommodation types and activity options. Accommodation ranges from shady powered and unpowered campsites, eco safari tents and standard studios to the stunning lake view villas.

The resort also boasts the famous infinity pool, a wet-edge pool and spa looking out over Bamboo Cove, with one of Australia’s most stunning views.

Hopping on board the “Kimberley Durack” catamaran for a boat cruise on the Lake is considered a bucket list experience. You’ll enjoy the informative commentary about the construction of the dam wall and the pioneering Durack family.

You’ll also feed the fish and marvel at the wildlife, which includes many freshwater crocodiles.

The Kimberley Durack lunch cruise includes an island stopover, where you have a chance to walk around the island in search of the elusive wallaroo or rock wallaby or swim out from the pebbly beach into the crystal clear water. Your hosts will prepare a sumptuous buffet, including the freshly caught local catch silver cobbler, straight from the barbecue.

ABOUT THE AREA

The closest town to Lake Argyle is Kununurra, the service centre for the East Kimberley.

Take the Victoria Highway east, then turn into the sealed Lake Argyle Road. The Resort and Caravan Park is located at the end of this road, just 1km from the Lake Argyle Dam.

www.lakeargyle.com

LAKE ARGYLE ADVENTURE RACE

Adventure seekers should look to visit Lake Argyle in September when the adventure race takes place.

SEPTEMBER 5-7: Swim (2km), run (9km), mountain bike (32km) and paddle (7km) in the remote East Kimberley in teams of two, three or four.

Friday: Mountain bike shoot out — a time trial format on the new Rotary Lake Argyle Trail.

Saturday: Team adventure race starting at Bamboo Cove, down from the Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park pool.

Saturday night: Dinner and the team presentation at the Lake Argyle Resort

Sunday: Solo adventure challenge (2km swim, 13km kayak, 6km off-trail run, 21km mountain bike ride).

www.lakeargyleadventurerace.com.au

EXPLORING BROOME’S HISTORY

THE RISE OF THE PEARL

Pearl Luggers — explore Broome’s pearling history.Source:Supplied

UNTIL late into the 1900s, the pearling industry in Broome was based primarily on the collection of oysters for their shell value and not for the occasional pearls they would yield.

WA’s pearling industry began to flourish in the mid-1860s as the worldwide demand for mother of pearl shell used to make buttons, cutlery, hair combs and jewellery items, continued to rise.

Prior to World War I, the price of shell was at an all-time high. With the announcement of the war in 1914, the demand for mother of pearl dropped dramatically overnight. Most of the industry’s labour pool immediately joined the war effort and the industry was left without sufficient labour or resources to maintain its fleets.

The pearling industry limped along until the end of the war and by the 1920s had recovered to the point where the price of shell was higher than ever.

Then disaster struck with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The United States entered World War II and once again, almost overnight, the pearling industry was out of business.

The internment of the Japanese, who were considered to be the best pearl divers, into prisoner-of-war camps, coupled with the fact that most of the industry’s labour was once again enlisted in the war effort, ceased the industry to cease operations.

But the war actually saved Australian pearling.

The army, preparing for a Japanese invasion that never came, burned precious luggers on the beach as part of a ‘scorched earth’ policy. The Japanese, their economy and most surface craft destroyed, were unable to resume their own oceanic pearling after the war. By the 1950s the Broome fleet had been rebuilt with a world-record price of 600 pounds a ton of pearl shell being achieved.

When at last a rosy future seemed assured for Broome and pearlers a new disaster struck.

In 1958, the plastic button was marketed in America. By 1959 mother of pearl had become unsaleable.

But salvation was close at hand.

The Japanese had been culturing pearls in their own oysters for many years. In 1946 after the war, Kockichi Mikimoto, the “father” of the industry, expressed his belief that the bigger Australian shell could produce the biggest and best pearls yet seen.

After the patriarch’s death, Tokuichi Kuribayashi took over and with Sam Male, owner of Broome’s biggest fleet, Brown and Dureau MOP exporters of Melbourne, and Otto Gerdau MOP importer of New York, established an experimental pearl farm in the Kimberley.

DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF THE PEARL

Take a tour at Pearl Luggers in Broome, in the heart of Chinatown, to get an understanding of the industry in its early days.

It is the closest link to the pearling era of days gone by, featuring two fully rigged and restored pearling luggers.

The interactive, one-hour tour will whisk you back in time to an era of courageous men who lived a life of danger and fortune.

You will discover more than 100 years of history and learn the legendary tale of ‘The Sea, The Men, The Legend’.

View original pearling artefacts, experience the weight of pearl diving equipment, watch rare archival footage and taste the exclusive pearl meat.

MIMBI CAVES

350 MILLION YEARS IN THE MAKING

Tour guide Rosemary Nugget with guests exploring the Mimbi Caves in Western Australia.Source:Supplied

MIMBI Caves are one of Australia’s most spectacular and significant sites.

Dating back more than 350 million years, the caves are a place of deep spiritual significance to the Gooniyandi people, as well as being one of the most significant Devonian fossil sites in the world.

This amazing cave system will take your breath away with its vivid colours and beautiful limestone rock formations, while the history and Dreaming stories of the Gooniyandi people take on a life of their own when shared deep within the heart of the caves.

Mimbi Caves are 90km east of Fitzroy Crossing.

Here, tours explain the historical, cultural and geographical importance of the caves.

Mimbi Caves Tour — 3 hour tour

Adults $80 Children $40 (max 32 people). Departs 10am and 2pm Monday to Thursday and Saturday

T: (08) 9191 5468 or info@mimbicaves.com.au, www.mimbicaves.com.au

JUNIOR RANGERS AT EL QUESTRO

THERE is no reason why the kids can’t enjoy the North-West as much as the adults, especially if you’re heading to El Questro Wilderness Park in the Kimberley.

The park’s new Junior Ranger program is a great way to introduce the kids to the outback.

Led by one of El Questro’s experienced rangers, Junior Rangers offers interactive sessions covering a range of topics, including fishing, bird watching, bush tucker and bush survival, crocodile and snake safety, and learning about the region’s flora, including the famous boab trees.

Senior rangers leading a session at Emma GorgeSource:Supplied

About 110km from Kununurra, El Questro is a remote and rugged destination that promises the seclusion to explore this iconic part of Australia and the amazing wildlife that exists there.

Kids interested in bugs, birds and little critters will be in their element at El Questro, which is a naturalist’s delight and home to nearly half of Australia’s 780 bird species, and more than 60 mammals.

Brolgas, jabirus and red-tailed black cockatoos are common during the day and by night kids will enjoy listening for the dog-like call of the aptly named barking owl.

The less audible mammal species are largely nocturnal, preferring to avoid the heat of the day and include rock wallabies, dingoes, fruit bats and flying foxes.

Reptiles also have a home at El Questro, from turtles to frill-necked lizards, and the relatively harmless freshwater crocodiles found in billabongs.

While the kids are having fun, parents can take part in numerous tours at El Questro, from 4WD trips, scenic flights, horseriding and walking tours to various gorges.

Full-day fishing tours for the elusive local barramundi are also available.

“El Questro is the ultimate kids’ playground,” El Questro general manager Lori Litwack said.

“They can get their hands dirty in our dusty red-brown earth learning about lizards and ants, and learn all about our famous boabs, bush tucker and graceful eagles soaring overhead.”

Costing $30 a child, there will be two, two-hour Junior Rangers sessions a day from June to late August. They can be booked at El Questro Station on the day.

For more information about the Junior Rangers program and the many other activities at El Questro visit www.elquestro.com.au.

Recognizing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease can be caught in the early stages—when the best treatments are available—by watching for telltale warning signs. If you recognize the warning signs in yourself or a loved one, make an appointment to see your physician right away. Brain imaging technology can diagnose Alzheimer’s early, improving the opportunities for symptom management.

Why early detection can be difficult

Alzheimer’s disease usually is not diagnosed in the early stages, even in people who visit their primary care doctors with memory complaints.

People and their families generally underreport the symptoms.
They may confuse them with normal signs of aging.
The symptoms may emerge so gradually that the person affected doesn’t recognize them.
The person may be aware of some symptoms but go to great lengths to conceal them.
Recognizing symptoms early is crucial because medication to control symptoms is most effective in the early stages of the disease and early diagnosis allows the individual and his or her family members to plan for the future. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact a physician.

Alzheimer’s warning signs

Progressive memory loss

This is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Initially, only short-term memory is impaired, and the person merely seems forgetful. But because short-term memory is essential for absorbing new information, the impairment soon interferes with the ability to interact socially and perform one’s work. Long-term memory may be retained longer, often in great detail, but it becomes fragmented as the disease progresses. Toward the final stage, people with Alzheimer’s may be unable to recall their own names.

Decline in cognitive abilities

These are the “thinking” activities of reasoning—solving problems, making decisions, exercising judgment, and so on. Impairments of cognitive function can begin subtly as poor performance in an activity the person once did well. Poor judgment and lack of insight can lead to accidents.

Early in the disease, individuals may easily lose track of time; later, their disorientation becomes more pronounced and extends to places and people. The sense of time becomes more distorted as the disease progresses, and people may insist it’s time to leave immediately after arriving at a place or may complain of not having been fed as soon as a meal has ended.

Changes in mood and personality

These changes are often the most convincing evidence for families that something is wrong. Apathy is common, and many individuals lose interest in their usual activities. A person may become withdrawn, irritable, or inexplicably hostile.

Depression may also accompany Alzheimer’s, partly as a result of chemical changes in the brain caused by the disease itself and partly as an understandable psychological reaction to the loss of mental abilities. Symptoms of depression include loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, change in appetite that sometimes leads to weight loss or gain, insomnia or oversleeping, loss of energy, and feelings of worthlessness. People with Alzheimer’s, though, seldom have feelings of excessive guilt or thoughts of suicide, which are often symptoms of depression.

Aphasia

This medical term describes an impairment in using and understanding language. Because speaking, writing, reading, and understanding speech involve different areas of the brain and different nerve networks, aphasia can be uneven, with some skills retained longer than others. For example, a person may be able to recognize written words flawlessly and yet fail to comprehend their meanings.

Typically, aphasia begins with word-finding difficulties. Unable to think of the right words, a person may try to cover up with long-winded descriptions that fail to reach the point, or he or she may angrily refuse to discuss the matter further. Substituting a similar-sounding word (“wrong” instead of “ring”) or a related word (“read” instead of “book”) is common. The person may ramble, stringing phrases together without expressing any real thought, or may forget all but a few words (which he or she may repeat over and over). In many cases, all language abilities are lost as dementia becomes severe, and people become mute.

Agnosia

The ability to process sensory information deteriorates, causing agnosia, a disorder in perception. Unable to comprehend the meaning of what they see, people with agnosia may run into furniture. They may believe a spouse is an impostor, become frightened by ordinary sounds, or fail to recognize their own reflection in a mirror. Agnosia can contribute to inappropriate behavior, such as urinating into a wastebasket.

Apraxia

The inability to perform basic motor skills such as walking, dressing, and eating a meal is known as apraxia. This is quite different from weakness or paralysis caused by a stroke. A person with apraxia has literally forgotten how to perform these activities. Usually, apraxia develops gradually, but in some cases, it begins abruptly. Apraxia may first be evident in fine hand movements, showing up in illegible handwriting and clumsiness in buttoning clothing. Everyday skills like using a phone or switching channels on a TV set may disappear. Eventually the ability to chew, walk, or sit up in a chair is lost.

Behavior problems

Troublesome changes in behavior are a common feature of the disease. Examples include being stubborn, resisting care, refusing to give up unsafe activities, pacing or hand-wringing, wandering, using obscene or abusive language, stealing, hiding things, getting lost, engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior, urinating in unsuitable places, wearing too few or too many clothes, eating inappropriate objects, dropping lit cigarettes, and so on. A particular behavior can disappear as a patient’s abilities further deteriorate (for example, verbal abuse declines as aphasia progresses), only to be replaced with new problems.

Catastrophic reaction

A strong emotional response to a minor problem is another symptom of the disease. Catastrophic reactions can involve crying inconsolably, shouting, swearing, agitated pacing, refusing to participate in an activity, or striking out at another person. The usual triggers include fatigue, stress, discomfort, and the failure to understand a situation. Essentially, a catastrophic reaction is the response of an overwhelmed, frightened person who feels cornered and is trying to protect himself or herself. The behavior is caused by brain dysfunction and is mostly beyond the person’s control.

Sundowning

This term refers to behavior problems that worsen in the late afternoon and evening. No one knows exactly why sundowning occurs, though there are several theories. Because people are tired at the end of the day, their tolerance for stress declines, and a minor problem can generate a major outburst. An already confused person may be overstimulated when several people are in the house, dinner preparations are under way, and the television is on. Dim light may also contribute to a person’s misinterpretation of visual information.

Psychosis

Roughly four out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease will experience psychosis, which is marked by recurring delusions or hallucinations. While this most often occurs in late-onset Alzheimer’s and appears to run in families, specific genes associated with it have not yet been pinpointed. The disordered thinking that prompts delusions and hallucinations occurs sporadically, which tends not to be true in other forms of psychosis.

A woman troubled by delusions might call the police to report strangers in the house, talk to herself in the mirror, or talk to people on TV. Hallucinations are often visual—seeing jagged rocks or water where floorboards actually are—but may be auditory (phantom voices), as well.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease

No blood test, brain scan, or physical exam can definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. And because so many conditions can produce symptoms resembling those of early Alzheimer’s, reaching the correct diagnosis is complicated.

Finding a physician

Refusing to see the doctor

Families sometimes encounter a major stumbling block when the person whose mental status has aroused concern refuses to see a doctor. Often the person denies having cognitive difficulties and resists visiting a doctor for evaluation. In this case, arranging a doctor’s visit for a more general purpose, such as a routine physical exam, or for a specific complaint, such as a headache, might pro- vide an opportunity to begin the Alzheimer’s evaluation. Call the doctor in advance to inform him or her that this is one purpose for the visit.

It’s important to find a physician experienced in Alzheimer’s diagnosis. If a physician diagnoses Alzheimer’s after only a cursory examination, get a second opinion. A complete evaluation by a specialist is essential to exclude other health problems that could cause cognitive problems. Your family physician may do part of the evaluation and then recommend a neurologist, geriatrician, or other specialist to complete it. Your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, medical school, or hospital can also identify appropriate specialists.

Before scheduling an appointment, ask what diagnostic procedures will be used. If the evaluation does not sound comprehensive, seek another physician.

Once a diagnosis is made, find a physician experienced in providing ongoing care to meet the changing needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. The doctor who makes the diagnosis may not be the one who will oversee the long-term care. So, try to choose a physician who’s knowledgeable about managing dementing illnesses and able to communicate well with family members.

What to expect

A complete evaluation will take more than a day and is generally done on an outpatient basis. In most areas, the evaluation can be done locally, and tests can be spread over several days to avoid tiring the person being examined. Other specialists besides the treating physician may be involved in the evaluation, including technicians, nurses, psychologists, occupational or physical therapists, social workers, and often psychiatrists.

It will take several days before test results are reported and the physician reviews them. When the doctor discusses the findings, be prepared for an equivocal diagnosis. Physicians are often hesitant to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease without first observing that the dementia is progressive. This means repeating the evaluation, usually in six to 12 months. At this later time, a more confident diagnosis is sometimes possible, but when cognitive changes are gradual, the doctor may recommend repeated testing at yearly intervals.

The evaluation process

To help alleviate any stress associated with your visit to the physician, it’s best to be as prepared as possible. For instance, be sure that whoever goes with the individual being evaluated is familiar with his or her medical history, current symptoms, and concerns.

Beforehand, write down any issues you want to mention at the visit. If the person is in an advanced stage of dementia, you may want to bring a music player with headphones to play calming music, or a familiar soft item that can be stroked or held.

Personal medical history

The physician will need the following:

A detailed description of changes in mental abilities, personality, mood, and behavior, including when the changes began and how they have affected the individual’s ability to function (consider bringing letters, checkbooks, household lists, or other materials that illustrate changes in cognition)
Information about physical complaints or symptoms, such as loss of coordination, sudden vision problems, or weakness
A complete medical history, including injuries and recent illnesses
A list of medications the patient is taking, including nonprescription drugs and herbal supplements
Information about the medical problems of family members, especially relatives with a similar illness.
This may seem like a lot of information, but the person’s history enables the physician to construct a list of possible diagnoses that will guide the medical evaluation that follows. For example, a physician who usually schedules a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain as a final test might order one immediately for someone with abrupt mental changes and difficulty walking. These symptoms might indicate excess cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, a condition called normal-pressure hydrocephalus (see “Brain scans,” below). Prompt detection and treatment could prevent permanent damage to the brain.

Physical examination

Disorders as diverse as heart failure, liver disease, kidney failure, thyroid disorders, and respiratory diseases can cause dementia-like changes. What’s more, elderly people don’t always have typical symptoms. The sensation of pain is often dulled in the older person, for example, and it’s not unusual for confusion, rather than chest pain, to be the main symptom of a heart attack.

Therefore, the physician will evaluate the cardiovascular system, lungs, and other organs for any signs of abnormalities. Because sensory losses can add significantly to a person’s cognitive difficulties, the doc- tor will also test vision and hearing. The physician will also pay close attention to the nervous system, because neurologic abnormalities may signal a brain disorder other than Alzheimer’s disease.

Muscle strength, coordination, reflexes, senses, eye movement, and the pupils’ reaction to light can tell the physician about the health of specific areas of the brain. For example, unequal reflexes or weakness on one side of the body suggest localized brain damage (perhaps from stroke or tumor), while tremors or other involuntary movements may indicate a degenerative disorder such as Parkinson’s disease. These types of abnormalities are not usually features of early Alzheimer’s disease.

Mental status testing, which is part of the neurologic examination, is crucial in diagnosing dementia and delirium. The physician will ask the person to perform simple mental exercises such as counting backward by sevens, obeying written instructions, memorizing words, and copying designs. This testing of mental status allows the physician to assess orientation, memory, comprehension, language skills, and ability to perform simple calculations.

Diagnostic tests

The physician will order a complete blood count and blood chemistry tests to detect anemia, infection, diabetes, and kidney and liver disorders. Other lab work will include routine tests for thyroid function, vitamin B12 deficiency, and elevated blood calcium, as well as a test for syphilis. If the physician suspects a specific medical problem, she may order additional tests. For example, a patient who might have been exposed to the AIDS virus will be encouraged to have an HIV test.

Brain scans

A brain scan—using either computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—is generally included in the standard evaluation for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

CT and MRI scans, which reveal the anatomic structure of the brain, are used to rule out such problems as tumor, hemorrhage, stroke, and hydrocephalus, which can masquerade as Alzheimer’s disease. These scans can also show the loss of brain mass associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In Alzheimer’s disease, the region of the brain known as the hippocampus may be disproportionately atrophied.

Other brain scans may be performed if CT and MRI scans are inconclusive. Positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography provide images of brain activity based on blood flow, oxygen consumption, or glucose use. These techniques can help narrow down a diagnosis by revealing deficits common in Alzheimer’s disease that are distinct from findings for other dementias, such as frontotemporal lobar degeneration and dementia with Lewy bodies. However, even these scans cannot reveal the microscopic changes in brain tissue that characterize Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, they can’t identify the disease with certainty.

Fortunately, the diagnostic capability of brain scans is improving. Especially promising is a kind of PET scan that uses a chemical tracer that binds specifically to amyloid deposits in the brain, allowing them to show up clearly on the brain scans. Today, at least 17 centers in North America, as well as 21 others throughout the world, have successfully used one such tracer, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB PET), in thousands of subjects. So far, this technique is being used only in research studies. Experts anticipate PET scans with similar tracer compounds will be in general use within the next several years. These tests may help doctors diagnose the disease before symptoms appear, as well as assess new treatments.

Researchers also hope to perfect MRI techniques that can enhance physicians’ ability to measure brain atrophy and diagnose Alzheimer’s with greater accuracy. Functional MRI (fMRI), which records blood flow changes linked to brain activity, may prove helpful in distinguishing among different forms of dementia.

EEG

An electroencephalogram (EEG) may be done to detect abnormal brain-wave activity. Although the EEG is usually normal in people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and many other types of dementia, EEG abnormalities do occur in delirium and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is a cause of dementia.

Lumbar puncture

If hydrocephalus (excess cerebrospinal fluid in the area around the brain) or infection of the central nervous system is suspected, the doctor may recommend a lumbar puncture to detect increased pressure or inflammatory cells in the spinal fluid. Biochemical markers for Alzheimer’s—including amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and neurodegeneration—can also be detected. These markers are sensitive detectors of Alzheimer’s pathology, and specific for them. While tests for these markers are not commonplace today, experts anticipate that they will become a standard part of diagnostic testing in the future.

Neuropsychological testing

Psychologists or neuropsychologists (psychologists with specialized training in brain disorders) may administer comprehensive neuropsychological tests, either as interviews or as paper-and-pencil tests. These tests, which take several hours, are used to determine what areas of cognitive function are impaired and what areas are still intact. They assess memory, reasoning, writing, vision-motor coordination, comprehension, and the ability to express ideas. A doctor may also give other tests to identify depression and other mood problems.

Functional assessment

Cognitive problems affect a person’s daily functioning in many different and sometimes surprising ways. An objective assessment can help determine what a person can and cannot do. This information is invaluable for caregivers, especially when the individual has other health problems that complicate the situation, such as arthritis or poor vision. If the person seems to have Alzheimer’s, a functional assessment can help determine its stage, which can help family members decide what type of care and support services are needed.

In a functional assessment, the therapist asks a family member to fill out a questionnaire about the person’s ability to perform activities of daily living. By noting what activities the person completes successfully, partially, or not at all, the therapist can suggest ways of helping the individual accomplish these tasks, thereby preserving as much of the patient’s independence as possible.

Psychosocial evaluation

The psychosocial evaluation is usually conducted by a social worker and is designed to help the individual’s family plan for care. The social worker will discuss the emotional, physical, and financial impact of Alzheimer’s disease and guide family members through an evaluation of their circumstances. Social workers can also help coordinate community services, suggest alternatives to the person’s present living arrangements, and provide a list of resources and locally available services.

Specialized tests

The doctor may call for a blood test in cases where there’s a family history of early-onset Alzheimer’s. To date, genetic testing offers diagnostic value only in cases of early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Searching for genetic mutations in individuals who do not have a strong family history of Alzheimer’s and who did not show symptoms before age 65 is fruitless. The test for the ApoE genotype can increase diagnostic confidence somewhat, but it isn’t recommended for screening purposes.

12 must-see locations in northern Western Australia

The Loop at Kalbarri National Park. Photo: Parks and Wildlife

KALBARRI NATIONAL PARK — 150KM NORTH OF GERALDTON

The Kalbarri National Park surrounds the lower reaches of the Murchison River, which has cut a magnificent 80km gorge through the red and white banded sandstone to create formations such as Nature’s Window.

In 2014, the $7.7 million upgrade of Kalbarri National Park, mainly funded under the Royalties for Regions infrastructure and roads initiative, was completed and officially opened. The upgrade included sealing 12km of The Loop/ Z-Bend Rd and the construction of new visitor facilities at The Loop and West Loop at the Murchison Gorge, including shade shelters, lookouts, walking trails, visitor information areas, sealed carparks and toilets.

SHARK BAY WORLD HERITAGE AREA — FROM 10KM EAST OF DENHAM

Inside the Shark Bay World Heritage area are a number of great sites including the Francois Peron National Park. Known for its contrasting red cliffs, white beaches and blue waters, the park has a fascinating pastoral history and offers a wilderness experience to 4WD drivers.

Inside the national park is the Big Lagoon Campground, an attractive turquoise lagoon with a small campground and an excellent spot to explore by canoe or sea kayak. The campground has gas barbecues and toilets and a nearby site for launching boats. You are welcome to fish in the lagoon south of the camping area. Camping fees apply.

Also on offer in the Shark Bay World Heritage area is the Hamelin Pool, one of just a handful of places in the world with stromatolites (the oldest living organisms known on earth), and Monkey Mia where visitors can stand within metres of wild bottlenose dolphins.

MOUNT AUGUSTUS — 480KM NORTH-EAST OF CARNARVON

Mount Augustus is the largest monocline rock in the world and is found in the Mount Augustus National Park. The monocline rock is 8km long and 3km wide — about two and half times the size of Uluru. There is no camping allowed within the national park but the nearby Outback Tourist Park offers accommodation, basic supplies and fuel.

THE PILBARA

Ningaloo coast. Photo: Jen HollisSource:Supplied

KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK — 75KM EAST OF TOM PRICE

The Karijini National Park is home to some of the oldest rock formations in the world, dating back two and a half billion years. The park features a labyrinth of gorges — some so narrow you can reach and touch the cool rocks on either side and others so large they appear like massive natural amphitheatres carved into the rock. Emerald pools stand in stark contrast to the rust-red and deep purple of the rocks and the landscape.

A $1.8m redevelopment of the Hamersley Gorge day-use area in Karijini National Park was completed last year, funded through Royalties for Regions program with contributions from the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Rio Tinto.

The redevelopment includes improved road access, new signs and the construction of a shade shelter and toilet.

Dales campground is close to some of Karijini’s most popular sites including Dales Gorge, Circular Pool and Fortescue Falls. A new staircase to Dales Gorge was completed in 2014 with improved access for visitors. Further sections of staircase are planned for 2015. There are a range of walk trails from the campground to view and explore lookout points, pools and gorges and 140 campsites in the park accommodating tents, large caravans, camper vans and camper trailers.

The western section of Banjima Dr was sealed in 2014 by the Shire of Ashburton, which improves access to the western gorge sites of Weano, Hancock and Oxer.

NINGALOO MARINE PARK — 50KM WEST OF EXMOUTH

Escape the southern winter and dive into the Ningaloo Marine Park, staying at one of the many campgrounds nestled on the coast in Cape Range National Park. Snorkel with turtles, dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, colourful fish and corals or take a land-based adventure looking for black footed rock wallabies, birds, reptiles and much more. In season (April to July) whale sharks, the world’s biggest fish, congregate along the Ningaloo Reef.

The chance to snorkel with these gentle giants is the opportunity of a lifetime and visitors from all over the world head to the Ningaloo Reef during whale shark season.

Kurrajong campground in Cape Range National Park, has 26 new campsites, a new gravel road, lookout points, a barbecue shelter and toilets plus an additional 19 new campsites in other areas of the park.

Demand for campsites is extremely high with advance booking required. Booking is only available through the ParkStay WA website parkstay.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Most of the campsites in Cape Range National Park are easy to get to by conventional vehicle, but if you’re after something a little more remote then One K campground is the site to go to. Once you cross Yardie Creek, on soft, shifting sand so high clearance campers and 4WDs only, you can access the campground.

MILLSTREAM CHICHESTER NATIONAL PARK — 150KM SOUTH-EAST OF KARRATHA

The Millstream Chichester National Park is an oasis in the desert, nestled within the chocolate brown rocks of the Chichester Range, dotted with spinifex and snappy gums. Permanent pools are fed by springs that draw water from the underground aquifer within porous dolomite rock. Miliyanha and Stargazers campgrounds are both located in the park with barbecue facilities and use of personal gas cooking appliances welcome. Campground hosts are stationed in both campgrounds for the majority of the tourist season, typically between mid-April and early October.

THE KIMBERLEY

Bell Gorge. Photo: Parks and WildlifeSource:Supplied

WINDJANA GORGE NATIONAL PARK — 140KM EAST OF DERBY

The Windjana Gorge National Park is one of the Kimberley’s most stunning gorges with water-streaked walls which rise majestically to heights of approximately 100m. The 3.5km long gorge cuts through the Napier Range, part of the ancient Devonian limestone reef dating back 350 million years. Freshwater crocodiles bask in the pools, while fruit bats and corellas roost in the waterside trees.

Windjana Gorge Campground has good facilities but no powered sites. It is a great base from which to explore Windjana Gorge. Entrance and camping fees apply.

KING LEOPOLD RANGES CONSERVATION PARK — 250KM NORTH-EAST OF DERBY

The King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park is known for its spectacular Bell Creek and Lennard gorges. The ridges of the King Leopold Ranges rise 300m above the surrounding plains (and 950m above sea level) while open savannah woodlands cover the sunburnt landscapes. Groves of river gum, stately paperbark trees and dense thickets of screw pine shade watercourses as water lilies and other aquatic plants fill permanent pools in the creeks and rivers, providing cool relief from the starkness of the harsh escarpments.

Following wet season rains, great volumes of water cascade from the ranges. In the dry, tourists are attracted to the spectacular cascading waterfalls at Bell Creek Gorge which is a relaxing place to swim. Visitors also marvel at the spectacular Lennard River Gorge and the incredibly folded and faulted scenic rock formations of the ranges along the Gibb River Rd, shaped by tremendous geological forces. The range is a haven for bird life and offers spectacular scenery for photographers.

Camping is provided at Silent Grove Campground, a riverside ground with shower and toilet facilities available. Camping fees apply.

Once the nerve centre of a former cattle station, the Mount Hart Wilderness Lodge is a virtual oasis on the banks of the Barker River and is surrounded by lush gardens. The lodge has stylish and comfortable accommodation in heritage homesteads, three-course dinners and breakfast, a restaurant and libraries. Mt Hart also has shady riverside camping facilities.

PURNULULU NATIONAL PARK — 250KM SOUTH OF KUNUNURRA

The Bungle Bungle Range in the Purnululu National Park is one of the most fascinating geological landmarks in the world with its beehive domes, deep chasms, gorges and pools. Getting there is not easy, but is well worth the adventure. There are short trails suitable for most ages and fitness levels, or longer trails for more experienced bushwalkers with specialised navigation and outback survival skills and equipment. In addition to the excellent national park camping facilities, safari camp-style accommodation is also available in the park.

The park however, is only open in the dry season (usually April to November). Walardi and Kurrujong campgrounds are also in the Purnululu National Park. The Walardi Campground has toilets and can cater for up to 40 vehicles while the Kurrajong Campground has toilets and can cat0er for up to 100 vehicles (no generators). Camping fees apply. Booking online is essential at parkstay.wa.gov.au.

PRO TIP: Take a helicopter or plane flight over the Bungle Bungle Range to get a sense of the scale and majesty of this geological wonder. Flights run daily from an airstrip in the park.

TUNNEL CREEK NATIONAL PARK — 100KM NORTH OF FITZROY CROSSING

The Tunnel Creek National Park flows through a waterworn tunnel in the limestone of the Napier Range, part of the 350 million year old Devonian reef system.

You can walk through the tunnel to the other side of the Napier Range with the trek running underground for 750m through several permanent pools.

At least five species of bats live in the cave, including ghost bats and fruit bats, and stalactites descend from the roof in many places. The roof has collapsed through to the top of the range near the centre of the tunnel. Take a torch, wear sneakers and be prepared to get wet and possibly cold.

GEIKIE GORGE NATIONAL PARK — 20KM NORTH-EAST OF FITZROY CROSSING

The Geikie Gorge is a spectacular wonder famed for its sheer white and grey walls, abundant wildlife and awesome boat tours. Geikie Gorge has been carved by the Fitzroy River through part of an ancient limestone barrier reef which snakes across the west Kimberley. It was laid down in an ancient sea which covered a large part of the Kimberley in Devonian times, some 350 million years ago. Geikie Gorge boat tours take place from May to October and give an insight into the wildlife and geology of the gorge. You might see birds such as sea eagles and rare purple-crowned fairy-wrens, or acrobatic crocodiles snapping at stray flying-foxes.

WOLFE CREEK CRATER NATIONAL PARK — 160KM SOUTH OF HALLS CREEK

The Wolfe Creek Crater National Park is a perfect place to experience real outback adventure. For a camping holiday with a difference, you can visit spectacular Kandimalal-Wolfe Creek Crater, the second largest meteorite crater in the world.

Most come to marvel at the crater itself, but wildlife abounds including major mitchell cockatoos, reptiles such as the brown ringtail dragon, and red kangaroos.

The best time to visit is between May and October.

There is one campground in the Wolfe Creek Crater National Park with basic toilet facilities, but no water available. The campground can be accessed by all vehicles in the dry season, however, in the wet season it is 4WD access only. No camping fees apply at this campground.

PRO TIP: Bring a star watching guide and binoculars or telescope for an unrivalled view of the night sky.

Atlantis Marine Park in Western Australia lies abandoned

Atlantis Marine Park was supposed to boost Western Australia’s tourism market. Picture: Tor Lindstrand.

IT WAS supposed to be Western Australia’s answer to the glittering Gold Coast. A theme park built off the back of Perth’s economic boom. But just nine years after opening, it shut its doors and is now abandoned and ruined.

Atlantis Marine Park sat 60km north of Perth in the small fishing town of Two Rocks. Built in 1981, it was part of Alan Bond’s ambitious plan to build a resort and residential area called Yanchep Sun City, a proposed satellite city to support a population of 200,000.

It was hoped that Perth’s massive expansion would be matched with a growth in tourism and even Japanese investors were brought in as financial backers.

Strange shaped objects litter the abandoned grounds. Picture: Tor Lindstrand.Source:Flickr

Statues have been left to ruin. Picture: Tor LindstrandSource:Facebook

Atlantis Marine Park was initially a huge success with families from WA and beyond flocking to the park to watch the live dolphin shows, swim in the pools, ride pedal boats and have their obligatory photo with King Neptune, a huge statue at the entrance to the park.

However in 1990, just nine years after opening, Atlantis shut its doors. Western Australia’s boom never eventuated and the 1987 stock market crash put a halt to prosperity.

Atlantis closed due to financial difficulty and was left abandoned. It has since been damaged by vandals and has become overgrown and derelict.

Vandals and neglect have seen the area left in tatters. Picture: Tor LindstrandSource:Flickr

The former marine park is now a wasteland. Picture: Tor LindstrandSource:Flickr

Old statues can still be found scattered throughout the grounds as well as broken walls and concrete pools. For years it was a no man’s land, popular with dog walkers.

However just last month the iconic King Neptune was restored to its former glory after a petition by locals who started an online campaign for something to be done with the ruins.

The mammoth statue was cleaned, sealed and repainted. Taking 11 men and 70 litres of paint, the restoration took two weeks to complete. Volunteers cleared the gardens and fixed the broken fences and the park is now open to the public on weekends.

The site is currently owned by the property developers Fini Group and a plan has been put forward to develop the area into a mix of retail, commercial and public open spaces including the preservation of King Neptune.

The King Neptune statue has been restored to its former glory.Source:Facebook

Random head statues are dotted around the grounds.Source:Facebook

Vandals have graffitied what is left. Picture: Tor LindstrandSource:Flickr

It is hoped the abandoned buildings will be developed into a retail and housing complex. Picture: Tor LindstrandSource:Flickr

Atlantis Marine Park in its heyday.Source:Facebook

Cruising Kimberley’s Aerial Highway

The Purnululu National Park. Picture: Jon Connell

WE’RE in a helicopter with the doors wide open flying over the magnificent Bungle Bungles in the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park of the East Kimberley.

The wind is whooshing through the cabin and my hair has turned into a bird’s nest. But what does that matter when you are swooping down over gorges dotted with trees carved into this 350 million year-old landscape?

This has to be the highlight of my week in the Kimberley, which includes seven flights over this vast land.

When I first came up this way in the late 1970s, I saw most of it by foot, horseback or from the driver’s seat of a very battered red Falcon ute.

My main view from behind my steering wheel was of kilometres of dusty, corrugated roads’ red dirt streaming through every part of my car. Insects splattering onto the windshield made it difficult to spot the potholes and sudden dips in the road.

Meanwhile, on the land … This is the Cathedral Dome. Picture: Phil Whitehouse

Taking in the view from a helicopter or a small plane gives a totally different perspective, providing a sense of how vast this land is.

The huge cattle stations and scattered Aboriginal communities have relied on this mode of transport for years. Known as the Kimberley Aerial Highway, a series of landing strips feature on the landscape, providing access to gorges, waterfalls, remote beaches and pearl farms.

It’s something to see!

But now a flight over the Horizontal Falls leaving from Broome or one to the Bungle Bungles or El Questro Wilderness Park in the East Kimberley is on many bucket lists.

And if you are here in late May, you can combine this with the activities and concerts of the Ord Valley Muster, including the Airnorth Kimberley Moon Experience, a dinner and concert on the banks of the Ord River in Kununurra.

The Horizontal Falls. Picture: Harclade

On our first breathtaking flight that took us to Cape Leveque for a swim and breakfast and then back to Broome over King Sound, the Kimbolton Ranges and the Buccaneer Archipelago, we learn the islands below are 1.8 billion to 2.4 billion years old — the tips of ancient mountains.

Cape Leveque. Picture: Cataflinders

About 15,000 years ago, the coastline was 150 kilometres further out to sea on the continental shelf; King Sound was created when the ice caps melted and the sea level rose over the shallow shelf, flooding the low-lying areas and valleys.

This coastline is known for its huge tides: when the sun and the moon are aligned on a full or a new moon every two weeks at spring tide, the ocean is pulled out towards the northwest of WA, speeding up as it hits the shallow continental shelf, then bottlenecking as it passes between Australia and Indonesia.

The Horizontal Falls are caused by this huge volume of water being forced through two narrow cliff passages.

Cape Leveque. Picture: Cataflinders

Back on the tarmac in Broome, we chat to Andrew Grace, the owner of Kimberley Aviation.

He found that as well as seeing this stunning landscape, tourists also want to engage with the people of the Kimberley, so he has devised tours including those to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek in the Napier Range in the West Kimberley where an Aboriginal guide relays the story of Jandamarra, the late-19th century Bunuba outlaw who was believed to have magical powers including being able to turn into a bird and fly.

Known as Pigeon to the European settlers, he was finally shot dead after leading a long armed rebellion.

The day of the Bungle Bungle flight we leave El Questro and fly over the Argyle diamond mine, controversial and secretive when it was first mooted in the late ‘70s but now a major part of the East Kimberley economic scene.

In Kununurra’s Kimberley Fine Diamonds store you can ogle at the pink diamonds with their prices into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and imagine how the red earth hid their presence for millions of years.

The land time forgot.

You can see indigenous depictions of the Kimberley landscape at the Artlandish Aboriginal Art Gallery in Kununurra, where owner Kirstie Linklater hosts artists so they can paint in natural pigments on stretched canvasses. Many of the paintings look as if the artists were in a plane when they produced them.

IF YOU GO

Getting there: Qantas operates direct flights from Melbourne to Broome year-round (twice weekly in dry/peak season); and from Sydney twice weekly (starting in April) and Brisbane weekly (starting in May) in dry/peak season. www.qantas.com.au

Staying there: In Broome: The Mangrove Resort Hotel has just been refurbished; Emma Gorge Resort, El Questro Wilderness Park.

Perth, home to 2 million people and the birthplace of quokka soccer

Perth, the place where soap stars were banished to

PERTH, capital city of Western Australia, and the place where characters from Home and Away and Neighbours were sent to live if they didn’t die.

For decades it was regarded as the ‘big country town’ but is now home to 2.02 million people, and according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, is the fastest-growing capital in the nation.

While this influx of new blood has helped to cosmopolitanise (I just made that word up) the wild west’s capital, there are just some things that scream you’re from Perth.

Here are 25 that I (and a couple of my mates) think are typically Perth.

(NB: I am from Perth).

1) You know who Rick Ardon and Susannah Carr are. The broadcasting duo have co-hosted Channel Seven news in Perth for a staggering three decades.

Rick Ardon and Susannah Carr. The pair have hosted Channel 7 news for 30 years. Pic Tom Rovis-HermannSource:News Limited

2) When someone mentions Sandgroper, you know what they are talking about.

3) If you’re not from WA then you’re from “over east”.

4) You never heard of a schooner until you visited “over east”. Beer comes two ways; in a pint or a middie.

5) You buy a coffee and are surprised when you get change from $5.

6) You are obsessed with shark attacks. WA is the shark attack capital of the world after all.

7) Holidays = Bali. It’s a 3.5 hour flight away.

Bali, the holiday destination for West Aussies. Pic: ThinkstockSource:Supplied

8) When someone mentions they are waiting for the Fremantle Doctor, you know they don’t need medical attention. (For those that don’t know, it’s the seabreeze from the Indian Ocean that sweeps over Fremantle first. It’s called the Fremantle Doctor because in WA’s blistering summer, it’s a relief when it arrives).

9) (a) School camps were spent at Rottnest Island.

(b) You know about quokka soccer — and agree that it’s evil.

How could anyone play quokka soccer. Sadly, they have. Picture: gwiltypleasure/InstagramSource:Supplied

10) You have been to Adventure World.

11) Everything is 30 minutes away (even if it’s not).

12) You always complain about traffic jams on the Kwinana/Mitchell Freeway.

13) Summer is when it finally hits 34+ degrees.

14) Summer also means this….(see below).

Perth enjoys sunsets like these almost every day of the year.Source:News Limited

15) You refer to the Margaret River region as “down south” or “douth”.

16) You refer to everywhere north of Perth as “up north”.

17) You know what the WACA is.

The WACA.Source:News Limited

18) You know the America’s Cup (and Alan Bond) put Freo on the map.

19) You know what a water desalinisation plant is.

20) The acronyms FIFO (fly-in fly-out) and CUB (cashed up bogan) are part of your vocabulary.

21) When you are overseas or interstate and you meet someone else from WA, you immediately ask them if they are an Eagles or a Dockers fan.

22) Even if you’re not an AC/DC fan, you know that Bon Scott is buried at Fremantle Cemetery.

Bon Scott, buried at Fremantle Cemetery. Pic: Michael Putland/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

23) You know what a Sunday Session is, and understand that it really only took place at the Cott or the OBH.

24) You are either from north of the river or south of the river.

25) You think WA has the best beaches (well, it does).

Cottesloe Beach, Perth-ection.Source:News Limited