Taking a Noun for a Walk: Walkabout

My ‘Taking a Preposition for a Walk’ series of blogs was such a smash hit (smile), I thought I’d follow it up by taking a few strolls around the World (Wide Web) while ‘Taking a Noun for a Walk’. 

Australian Aboriginal Artwork: 'Coolamon' with Dot Painting

As a reminder, I ‘drew’ (ouch!) the idea for taking non-organic matter for walks from the painter Paul Klee’s definition of drawing as ‘taking a line for a walk’. The definition ties in neatly with my first ‘walk with a noun’, as this also involves ‘lines’.  The noun is ‘Walkabout’.

A Walkabout has come to be known as a rite of passage for adolescent Australian Aboriginals. They undertake a journey which involves living in the wilderness for up to six months. Their walk would trace the lines (paths) taken by their ancestors. These paths can also be called ‘songlines’ or ‘dreaming tracks’. This elevates the ritual to the domain of the spiritual, as the routes of the songlines or dreaming tracks relate to the being who created the earth and all in it, during the time of The Dreaming. The pathways of the songlines are recorded in traditional aboriginal song, story, dance and visual art. Those on Walkabout negotiate their road by repeating the words of the songs, which, it is believed, lead to watering places and other sacred landmarks. It is said that huge distances are able to be covered in this way.

The Dreaming describes relationships between the spiritual and natural world and relates to a period before human memory, to a time of the earth’s creators and other supernatural beings.

One such being was the Rainbow Serpent, who is supposed to have traced a path across Northern Australia, making rivers and mountains as she walked, stopping now and then at places which are now especially sacred.

Australian Aboriginal art is widely exhibited around the world today (and has known scandal and fraud) but was originally created to be viewed only by initiates into esoteric knowledge.

Whatever its purpose today, the motifs of Australian Aboriginal Art still include the marks and symbols of The Dreaming.

Note:     The term ‘walkabout’ has been negatively adopted in Western Society, where, for instance, ‘he’s gone walkabout’ means ‘he’s fled’ or ‘disappeared’. 

The Digeridoo player in the You Tube video above is Richard Walley, OBE.  He is a recognized indigenous leader of the Arts in Australia.  In addition to his OBE, Richard was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Murdoch University for his services to the promotion of Nyoongar culture.


Ann Isik

About AnnIsikArts

Artist/Writer/Chess Enthusiast/Musician (Singer)/Gardener
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2 Responses to Taking a Noun for a Walk: Walkabout

  1. karoline says:

    I was always interested in their symbols


    • annisik51 says:

      Hello Karoline

      I’ve visited your online art gallery. Yes, Australian Aboriginal art has attracted my interest too. It is true ‘Poetic Mapping’ I think. I can see the influence in your work. And the poetic mapping. Keep mapping!



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