How to Go On A Walkabout

Photo by Holly Mandarich

Most people know the expression, Go On Walkabout, comes from the aborigines. But most people don’t know much about the underlying reasons for the practice. When aborigines set off on a Walkabout, they’re taking a spiritual journey to a “Belonging Place” in order to renew their relationship with their Dreaming and the Landscape.

I was born a Dreamer. And I’d been going on my own version of Walkabouts long before I’d ever heard of the term or learned anything about the aborigines. In fact, I’ve been traveling to my Belonging Places ever since I was old enough to set off by myself. (I took my first one when I was nine years old.) Since I’m getting ready to set off for another Belonging Place, I thought I’d share how the process works for me.

Every so many years, I get this itch, urge, calling to take off by myself for parts unknown. It starts as a soft rumbling down in my toes that gradually grows into a loud roar as it makes its way up into my head. Sometimes, it can take several months for it to reach my consciousness. Sometimes, it happens within weeks. But once it starts happening, it persists until I finally “get the message.”

Once I feel that familiar tingle in my toes, I start listening. Listening for where it is that I need to go. That piece, too, can take a while to make itself known. But, eventually, that also becomes clear — sometimes through dreams and sometimes through a place that just keeps popping into my head for no reason.

The interesting thing about trusting one’s body to know where it wants to send you is that it’s often not a place where you’d consciously choose to go. As a matter of fact, on the few occasions when I’ve invited Andrew to come along, he’s refused on the grounds that nobody but me would make such-and-such-place a destination. Which is just as well, because I prefer to go on my Walkabouts alone.

Since most of my Belonging Places have been pretty far away (and this one coming up is no different), unlike the aborigines, I can’t realistically walk to them. The next best thing for me is to fly close to where I need to go and then make the rest of the journey by car and then by foot.

And when I say “close to where I need to go” it’s not like there’s a town, or a street, or a house, or even a person I’m looking for. Like the aborigines, it has always been about the landscape for me. I leave with no planned itinerary and no more specific destination than to say, for example, I’m going to these mountains, or these plains, or this desert, etc. Then when I get there, I’m free to go where the spirit takes me. There’s something infinitely freeing about it for me.

By giving myself this time alone to reconnect with myself and to draw strength from various landscapes, I always come back renewed and reinvigorated, brimming with creativity.

If it all sounds a little crazy to you, it’s really no different than someone else deciding to go to a spa or a retreat or any other vacation get-away. And, truth be told, it’s a lot less expensive.

So, if you’re feeling ready for an adventure, and you’d like to give it a try, start by listening to your body and see what comes up. It’s different for different people. Some people decide to take a walk to where they originated, others go to a place where they feel part of the land and the land is part of them.

You don’t have to go alone, and you don’t have to go for a long time. The main thing is just to give yourself the freedom to go.

10 thoughts on “How to Go On A Walkabout”

  1. John, I gather wild edibles and subsidize with granola and dried fruit. I also carry a water purifier. It’s really important to know about the terrain you’ll be traveling through, and what it can and can’t offer.

  2. What would one do for food and water on these journeys? I’m extremely intested in it but i must learn about getting these things first. Hunting and gathering and all that. If you could get back to me it’d be awesome.

  3. Well if your spirit should lead you to Indiana, I’m sure it’s GingaBoo calling so let us know if you are passing by.

    GingaBoo have called. And I shall be passing through there on my way to my final destination. Just depends on whether I’m driving or flying that part. Looks like I won’t be able to go now until early fall when Cait’s back in school though. Will keep you posted. Would love to pet and give kisses to the GingaBoo in person. :)

  4. I like this. Listening to one’s own heart. I feel the pull to the ocean or water this year. Some years it is the Rockies or desert. The aborigines have the right idea. Have a great walk about!


  5. Definitely going to find some forests, me. Last summer we were home but I was too busy to spend enough time in them. Can’t wait!

    After all that sand, I imagine you must feel starved for trees and green. 

  6. Although I’ve heard the term, I didn’t know it came from the aborigines. Next time I feel drawn to a certain place I’ll have to listen a bit better!

  7. It sounds fabulous, Karen! I read recently that the aborigines measure distance in the Outback during their Walkabouts by songs. They sing and the words coincide with the sections of the Outback they’re passing through. The songs have been passed down through the generations… Perhaps you can make up your own songs as you go along on your Walkabout. Have fun!

    Only two problems. I can’t carry a tune. And I only know all the words to one song, well two — Buffalo Girls and Little Bunny Foo Foo.  But you’re right, it’d be the perfect time to make up some for myself! :)

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