I think I’ll go on a walkabout
And find out what it’s all about – and that ain’t hard
Just me and my own two feet
In the heat I’ve got myself to meet.
– Walkabout, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Visitors to Australia are missing the boat if they don’t experience an Aboriginal cultural program, because it’s such an enriching way to better understand and respect the customs, traditions and ceremonies that date back tens of thousands of years. One way to do so is to experience a Walkabout.
A Walkabout is a journey of discovery and of self. In earlier times, it was known as a rite of passage where male Aborigine adolescents would embark on a journey into the wilderness, sometimes for as long as six months.
The distance covered on a walkabout may exceed 1,000 miles, completed without aid of compass or radio. A walker found his way, it was believed, under the guidance of a spiritual power.
Today, a Walkabout more often refers to a temporary return to traditional Aboriginal life, taken between periods of work or residence, involving travel through the bush.
A modern Walkabout
Guests can take a guided bushwalk on traditional lands, stay in an Aboriginal village, eat wattle seed ice cream, learn to play a didgeridoo, weave a basket, tell your story in a dot painting, or hear about the settlement of Australia from the original inhabitants. There are hundreds of authentic aboriginal culture experiences you can include in your Australia vacation package to bring you closer to the spirit of the land.
Going back to the land is in keeping with Indigenous Australians’ oral tradition and spiritual values that are based upon reverence for the land and a belief in “the Dreamtime.” Aboriginal Australians explain their heritage by telling stories about the land and animals around them. They are spiritually connected to the land and use “the Dreamtime” to tell the story of creation.
In “the Dreamtime”, the hills are giant marsupials, frozen in time. The rivers are tracks of the rainbow serpent, and the Milky Way is the river in the sky where, after the rainbow serpent has swallowed the sun, people fish for stingrays and turtles with the stars as their campfires.
Under a starry, clear Australian sky, it’s not hard to see exactly what they mean.