Walkabout - Turning a Boy to Man

Mary Anne Lonergan December 5, 2019

Reviewing what the process of boy to man transformation involves

Walkabout - Turning a Boy to Man

The Australian Aboriginal community has walkabouts, which is the rite of passage that helps turn a boy to man. This process of boy to man transformation is strenuous and involves adolescents (aged eleven to fourteen years) who have to live off the land in the wilderness on their own with just a spear for their protection. These youngsters aren’t supplied any food or water, and have to hunt on their own and search for water to stay alive.

Though the walkabouts may seem strenuous for teenagers, the youngsters aren’t entirely unprepared because the elders offer them advice and instructions years before they actually go out on this journey of turning boys into men.

In her book titled “On the Winds of Australia,” Mary A. Lonergan gives a glimpse of what walkabouts consist of. She says when the fathers and chief of these youngsters notice that they have become adequately mature to go on a walkabout, they are ordered to leave their villages instantly after a ceremony. Their chosen leader takes them to the edge of nowhere, and tells each boy the direction he has to take. The boys must walk for two full days (which means two full suns and two moons), and the area where they reach after this period is where they have to stay, hunt, and pray to their dead ancestors for giving them strength that will help in turning boys to real men.

This journey into manhood may last for anywhere from one to six months based on each of the tribe’s tradition. At the end of this rite of passage during adolescence that turns a boy to man, the boys return home and they are likely to be married by the village chief.


Call to action:

What more would you like to add about the custom of walkabouts inherent to the Australian Aboriginal culture? Let me know in the comments section below. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads to keep the conversation going. To have an interesting read, be sure to check out my books.



Andresen, Julie Tetel. “The Australian Walkabout: A Rite of Passage.” Julie Tetel Andresen, July 23, 2015. https://julietetelandresen.com/australian-walkabout/

Boban. “Walkabout – The aboriginal Australian hike that serves as a rite of passage.” Outdoor Revival, April 6, 2017. https://www.outdoorrevival.com/old-ways/extreme-animal-challenges-us.html

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Mary A. Lonergan

Mary A. Lonergan is a retired aesthetician. Being hearing impaired, she is a member of the Canadian Hearing So . . .

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