Traditionally, a walkabout was a rite of passage for Aborigines of Australia. Males between the ages of 10 and 16 went into the forest or “bush” as they called it. Alone, they wandered the forest for up to six months. This was thought to be a spiritual journey that got them ready for manhood.
Modern walkabouts are done anywhere. And, they can be done alone or with others. The objective is still the same; to clear one’s mind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Our Australian Walkabout
We love being outdoors and being active, so while in Australia, searching out a walkabout was perfect for us! We found a trek that was amazing! This adventure was in the Blue Mountain World Heritage Site, a rainforest which is a short distance from Sydney. Secondly, it was lead by an Aboriginal person, Evan Yanna Muru. Evan studied the indigenous culture out in the bush for as long as he can remember.
To begin our journey, we met at a small, no-frills, train platform in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. We questioned whether or not we were even in the right place. Fortunately, a woman showed up not long after we did for the same excursion. Finally, a few other people and Evan showed up. Shortly after that, we boarded the train. The trip lasted about an hour. We were dropped off in a small neighborhood and led into the forest.
Once inside the rainforest, Evan encouraged our small group to walk softly and feel each footfall on the earth. He stopped to tell us traditional “Dreamtime” stories and show us hidden treasures. We played in nature, balancing and swinging on vines!
We saw ancient petroglyphs. The one below is a wallaby, representing the Rainbow Serpent. It is about 7000 years old. Additionally, we tasted bush-tucker (native Australian plants), and stuck eucalyptus in our noses!
Rocks and plants turned into paint, and we painted some traditional symbols on bark with them. Some people painted on their bodies.
We ate our packed lunches in beautiful, sandstone caves.
The Benefits of Nature
This was a day-long, immersive experience. Even after a day of hiking, we went back to our hotel refreshed! Obviously, all of our senses were stimulated. We had time to discover, relax, play. It was the ultimate nature walk!
People are spending more and more time working high-pressure jobs, in front of a screen, and multitasking. Because of this, we are all being encouraged to spend more time in nature. Recently, many studies have been conducted about the effects of nature on the body and mind. Most of the studies have come to the same conclusion. People who are out in nature two hours a week or longer report better health and higher well-being than those that haven’t spent time outdoors. Many studies show that being in a natural environment reduces stress. In turn, blood pressure and heart rate are lowered.
According to the article Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health published by the Yale School of Environment, The studies point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a must-have for physical health and cognitive function. To learn more, read How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing, on the University of Minnesota website.
Geocaching is another great way to spend time outdoors and have a great time. Read about it here.
So, get outside. Enjoy the world around you! Go into the woods, hike a nearby trail, visit a park, go to the beach, geocache, or play in your yard! You don’t need an excuse, it’s good for your health!
And remember, it’s all science!