Walkabout refers to a rite of passage where male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months.[1] In this practice they would trace the paths, or "songlines", that their people's ceremonial ancestors took, and imitate, in a fashion, their heroic deeds.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary, however, defines the noun as a 1908 coinage that refers primarily to "a short period of wandering bush life engaged in by an Australian aborigine as an occasional interruption of regular work", with the only mention of "spiritual journey" coming in a usage example from a latter-day travel writer.[2] To white employers, this urge to depart without notice (and reappear just as suddenly) was seen as something inherent in the aboriginal nature, but the reasons may be more mundane: workers who wanted or needed to attend a ceremony or visit relatives did not accept employers control over such matters (especially since permission was generally hard to get).[3]

In the media

  • Walkabout by James Vance Marshall, from which the 1971 film Walkabout was adapted.
  • "Walkabout" is an episode of the science fiction television series Babylon 5, focusing on Dr. Stephen Franklin's walkabout through the Downbelow section of the titular space station.
  • "Walkabout" is also an episode of the television series Lost, focusing on John Locke attempting to go on walkabout in Australia.
  • "Walkabout" is also an episode of Millennium in which Frank Black discovers a conspiracy whilst entering into fugue states.
  • "Walkabout" was frequently mentioned in the 2008 movie Australia, because the child lead, Nullah, adamantly insisted on participating in his cultural heritage through this tradition.
  • Mick Dundee is from "Walkabout Creek" in the movie "Crocodile" Dundee. The term "walkabout" is also used in the movie's dialogue.
  • "Walkabout" is a song recorded by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • "Walkabout" is a song recorded by The Sugarcubes, which features Björk.


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Walkabout. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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