British Museum

What is a 'walkabout'?


‘Walkabout’ is an Australian English term used to describe the travels of Indigenous Australians, as they moved across their ancestral lands to take advantage of seasonally available resources. These were not random wanderings – known pathways were carefully followed, and tribal boundaries closely observed to avoid conflict with neighbouring groups. Survival in the varied environments of Australia depended on an intimate knowledge of the environment – which plants were edible, where to find animals to hunt, and particularly the location of waterholes. Significant landmarks were often sacred, imbued with the presence of ancestral beings, their histories and their power. This ‘walkabout’ is much smaller in scale, and hopefully less demanding. The trail features Australian objects in the Museum’s collection. If you need food and water, just head to the Museum’s cafés or restaurant!