Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Walkabout” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  1,281 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Movie tie-in, illustrated with photos

A plane crashes in the vast Northern Territory of Australia,
and the only survivors are two children from Charleston, South Carolina, on their way to visit their uncle in Adelaide. Mary and her younger brother Peter set out on foot, lost in the vast, hot Australian outback. They are saved by a chance meeting with an Aboriginal boy on wal
Mass Market Paperback, 158 pages
Published 1971 by Belmont Productions (first published January 1st 1959)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Walkabout, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Walkabout

The Golden Compass by Philip PullmanBlack Beauty by Anna SewellThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonHoles by Louis SacharThe City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Books for Years 7 - 10
26th out of 107 books — 11 voters
The Tin Drum by Günter GrassCat Among the Pigeons by Agatha ChristieA Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine HansberryTo Sir, With Love by E.R. BraithwaiteGoldfinger by Ian Fleming
Best Books of 1959
23rd out of 51 books — 25 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,236)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This novel was written by Donald G. Payne by 1959, who used the pseudonym James Vance Marshall, in honor of a man who lived in the outback of Australia and collaborated with Payne in its creation. Walkabout did not receive much attention until 1971, after a movie based on the book, but not faithful to it, was released, to critical acclaim.

Eleven year old Mary and her eight year old brother Peter are residents of Charleston, South Carolina who find themselves stranded after their Adelaide-bound p
5/7 - This was a set book for literature in about Year 9. Thinking about it now, over a decade later, after only reading it that one time, I'm surprised at how many details of the plot I remember. I didn't love it or hate it, landing at either end of the rating scale usually being the best way to make a book memorable. The 'just okay' books, of which Walkabout was one (from what I remember) tend to be the ones I forget. I'm interested to see if I get more out of this than I did as a 15-year-old. ...more
Walkabout was the very first book I was ever assigned for school. I remember very little of the discussions my class had about the book, but vividly recall almost every page of the book itself.

I'm surprised at people saying nothing happens in the book because in my mind, each plot point and each detail of Peter and Mary's interactions with the bush boy stand out clearly even 17-18 years after I read it: Mary clucking like a mother hen around Peter, the bush boy teaching the city kids to get wat

Walkabout is a story of diversity, three children's experience of life through great diversity - culturally, environmentally, racially and rite of passage, death is also addressed.

The arid desolate, barren land of Australia's Northern Territory is vividly described explaining the difficult surrounding Mary and Peter contended with, while bush boy was one with nature, again contrasts tying the story together.

"Sturt Plain, where the aircraft had crashed, is in the centre of the Northern Terri
Brother and sister were products of the highest strata of humanity's evolution. In them the primitive had long ago been swept aside, been submerged by mechanization, been swamped by scientific development, been nullified by the standardized pattern of the white man's way of life...It was very different with the Aboriginal. He knew what reality was. He led a way of life that was already old when Tut-ankh-amen started to build his tomb.
(Walkabout, pp. 25-26)

Noble savage sacrifices self to save civ
At the time I read this, I didn't make a connection with the Burke and Wills expedition. I was once told a story about an Aboriginal man who showed up in an abandoned settlement during WWII, and, finding nobody there, led his family through the Outback to another settlement, arriving with all well-fed and healthy. His guide? Old stories told around campfires in his childhood.

Burke and Wills, on the other hand, died from having arrived at their appointed rendezvous a mere 9 HOURS too late. If the
I'm not entirely sure why I read this book. Maybe because it was reissued by NYRB, and I find it difficult to pass up their titles used? I bought this book at Barnes & Noble. If you live in the Twin Cities and find yourself in possession of a Barnes & Noble giftcard, I highly recommend checking out the HarMar location. They have used books! Wonderful, glorious used books. Not the best selection and not particularly well-priced, but used books nonetheless. Walking in to HarMar it's fun to ...more
Zwei weiße Kinder treffen im australischen Outback auf einen Aborigine Jungen, der ihnen hilft, in der Wildnis zu überleben. Er zeigt ihnen, wie man Feuer macht, Essen findet und führt sie zu Wasserlöchern. Der Aborigine befindet sich gerade auf dem Walkabout, einem traditionellen Ritual der Mannwerdung.

Zum einen wird die australische Landschaft mit ihrer faszinierenden Tier- und Pflanzenwelt beschrieben, zum anderen treffen zwei völlig verschiedene Kulturen aufeinander: zwei weiße Kinder aus de
My first introduction to Aboriginal culture and Australia in general. I first picked this book up in the 4th grade and have very fond memories of reading it 5 times. That's how spellbound I became with this book and till today though I look at it with new eyes and understanding, it yet still holds a fond place in my heart.
Jan 24, 2012 Tom marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Had never heard of this novel until reading review in NYRB, which I gather is actually the Intro to new NYRB edition. Siegel's intro also comments on a film version of the novel, which, though it sounds interesting in its own right, departs in some significant ways from the book (but then, don't they all ... or most) but that difference only highlighted the appeal of the novel. Sounds like another literary resurrection from NYRB worthy of our celebration and gratitude (and another cool cover, wh ...more
Ali Adenwala
This was a short, mildly enjoyable book. Throughout most of the story almost nothing happens, except for the death of the bush boy, and it continues that way until the end of the book. The first half was thoroughly captivating but along the way it got way too repetitive in its descriptions of the Australian outback (though very well written), and it didn’t really feel like it was going anywhere. It had a good message about cultural differences and acceptance but Marshal could have taken it a bit ...more
This short novel is notable for its really remarkable descriptions of the Australian landscape, as well as the sheer sadness and loveliness of the central storyline. I found Marshall's overall style to be a bit heavy-handed at times: the contrasts drawn between the Aboriginal boy and the American children (who are named Peter and Mary, leaving me to assume that the Aboriginal is the sacrificial Christ figure here, of pure goodness, dying for the sins of civilization) were hardly subtle. Still, f ...more
Austen to Zafón
Interesting premise: After a small-plane crash in the Australian bush, the pilot and co-pilot die leaving only the passengers: a boy, Peter, age 9 and his sister Mary, age 14. After witnessing the death of both adults, eating the only food they have (a barley sugar stick), and drinking from a gully, they decide they must head for their original destination, Adelaide, where an uncle lives. Soon they realize that it's a lot further than they thought and that they have no idea how to survive. Enter ...more
Karen Witzler
Read in the early Seventies. I love the Nicolas Roeg film, too, even though it changes some plot essentials.
English Education
***spoiler alert***
Crashing with a plane, the two American children Mary and Peter are the only survivors in the Australian outback. As they know that their uncle is married to an Australian woman, they want to find him in Adelaide, which unfortunately is on the other side of the continent. They start walking through the wilderness. On their way, they meet an Aborigine who helps them find water and food. Actually, the Aboriginal boy is on his walkabout to become a real man where he is not allowe
The novel "Walkabout" was first published in 1959. A walkabout is the Australian term for a journey on foot. Peter and Mary are siblings and the only survivors of a plane crash in the Australian outback. In the short 125 pages they meet an Aborigine boy who teaches them how to survive, experience the flora and fauna of the outback and forests. and learn about the native Aborigines of Australia. (There's even a glossary in the back to help understand terms.) Unfortunately, having been written 50 ...more
I've read this book numerous times and I still can't get over how beautifully written it is by Marshall about the vastness of Australia's wilderness. The description of the wildlife nature is incredibly intricate which I enjoyed very much. The relationship between the children and the Aborigine boy was simply admirable and touching. The poignant part where the Aborigine boy convinced himself that he was going to die made me think of how fragile, yet how powerful our minds can be, that it can be ...more
Josephine Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Beautifully illustrative of the aboriginal outback, beautiful imagery and a simple classic story for young adults. I would have loved if this was longer.
Takuma Kusagawa
1. Penguin,Level2



4."For the bush boy, and for his tribe, there was a life plan. You were born, and then youwalked with your tribe. After that, you walked alone, on your walkabout. Then you were a man, and you lived with a woman. And after that, you died. It never changed. That was life."
In the world of Aborigine, this is a tradition. I thought there are various traditions in the world.

5.In this story, two American children lost in th
Marts  (Thinker)
An unusual story about an american girl and brother lost in the Australian outback and the aborigine they meet.
Chie Akura
1. Penguin Readers level 2

2. 5/31=65minutes 6/2=25minutes

3. bush, American children, desert,survive, growth, death, kind

4. I like this book because I empathize with a american girl's feeling to stranger very much. I can see the growth and changing mind of children through a life in desert. The description of lifestyle in desert is interesting.

5. I thought a girl is srtonger and wiser than a boy when they are child. There are some unknown animal's words ,so it is sometimes not easy to read for m
I've read a few books recently where I've seen the movie before reading the novel ("Rosemary's Baby", "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", and now "Walkabout"), and it's an interesting experience. Whereas "Rosemary's Baby" was virtually a scene by scene remake, "Walkabout" is quite a different beast. The basis for the movie is here, but the difference is in the details. Spoilers follow.

Whereas in the movie the children are abandoned in the outback by their father, here they are survivors of a plan
This is a book about an American girl & her brother that get lost in the Australian outback. They join up with a Aboriginal boy that leads them out of the desert & teaches them how to survive.

The following quote speaks volumes:

"(the white man) had climbed a long way up the latter of progress; they had climbed so far, in fact, that they had forgotten how their climb had started. Coddled in babyhood, psychoanalyzed in childhood, nourished on predigested patent foods, provided with continuo
I don’t like the ending because I feel it leaves you at a point as if it should carry on, as it introduces a whole new event of where they are going to and that maybe they will achieve their goal and then it just stops! It’s left me thinking about what will happen next, but there isn’t a second book in the series, as I would have liked to know whether they achieved their goal of reaching civilisation and finding their uncle. Although on one hand the author lets your own imagination finish the st ...more
2009 bookcrossing journal:

I suppose I am doing this the wrong way around as I have already seen the film and now I am reading the book - don't they say you should always read the book first because it usually is better than the film? In this case I preferred the film to be quite honest. It was a bit darker, grittier somehow - maybe not for children though with a father trying to kill his kids, and then a suicide... but it was interesting to read this book to see where it had all come from. And t
John Robertson
James Vance Marshall’s Walkabout, while a short read, manages to mix elements of survival with a strong message of racial relations.

As Mary and Peter move hopelessly through the Australian outback, they receive help from an aborigine on his walkabout. The themes shifts from that of desperation and danger to one of socialization and cooperation. The enabling of Mary and Peter to survive serves as a distinct metaphor that we can accomplish great things if we pool our strengths. A message I found i
Karen B.
I liked the lush description of the Australian outback and the humorous misunderstandings between the child of the Aboriginal culture and the children of Western culture, but not the pat religious message. Also, I wondered how much was true about the Aborigines; i.e. the pure and simple savage and all that. Another matter is that I felt like this was more of a children's book. In one sense that was okay, as it was a nice break from the more complex reading I usually do.
Although I didn't really like this book what I did like about it was the amount of things I learnt about Aboriginals, which I found very interesting. I also found the charachter of the aboriginal boy very interesting and was disappointed when he died because the boring story somehow got more boring. However what I didn't like about this book was the Mary and Peter (Mary especially) were annoying. They didn't really do much and were just boring. I also thought that the majority of this book was j ...more
Another Lew Prince Book Giveaway acquisition bites the dust! I seem to recall that at some point in Sophomore English at Lafayette High School we had a choice between this and a handful of other books, and I chose something else. But I was always curious about this one! I'll have to check out that movie now. The book had me looking up all kindsa words, much of it flora and fauna. I did a double-take when the word "cwn" showed up. That's not a typo, C-W-N is a word! There were even a few pointers ...more
Varsha Seshan
I rarely read blurbs, but when the emotions of a book are too intense, I take some time out to look at other things while I digest everything I feel. And I read the blurb and wished I had not. Like so many other blurbs, I feel this one says too much.
What a truly beautiful book it is. One review says that the book is 'filled with information about desert flora and fauna'. I grimaced at it. But when I read the book, I realised that the detailed descri
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 74 75 next »
  • The Cat: Or, How I Lost Eternity
  • Children on the Oregon Trail
  • La regina dei Caraibi
  • The Ship That Flew
  • Something's Fishy, Hazel Green
  • Grinny
  • Mein Urgroßvater und ich (SZ Junge Bibliothek, #7)
  • A Kid for Two Farthings
  • Brendon Chase
  • The Cucumber King
  • Marcelino Pan Y Vino
  • Uncle
  • Keväällä isä sai siivet (Austraasia, #1)
  • Knight's Fee
  • Vuk
  • Minnow on the Say
  • The Night Swimmers
  • Down With Skool!
Pseudonym of Donald Gordon Payne.
He lives in Surrey, England, and has four sons and one daughter.

The Children, later known as Walkabout, though published under the name James Vance Marshall, was actually written by the English author Donald Gordon Payne as were a number of Payne's later works for children. The Children and other works were apparently based on Marshall's travel notes and diaries,
More about James Vance Marshall...
Stories from the Billabong A River Ran Out of Eden (New Windmills) White-Out A Walk To The Hills Of The Dreamtime The Wind At Morning

Share This Book