Warakurna

Album: Diesel and Dust (1988)
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Songfacts®:

  • Warakurna is an Aboriginal community in Western Australia and was the second stop on Midnight Oil's Blackfella/Whitefella tour with the Warumpi Band. Touring indigenous communities was an eye-opening experience for the band as they saw the plight of the marginalized groups firsthand. Jim Moginie, Midnight Oil's guitarist and keyboardist, recalled entering the town for the first time. "The first thing you see coming in to the town is a piece of space satellite junk that had fallen to earth like something out of Star Wars. Then a hand-painted sign saying 'Strict Rules.' Then, a mountain of derelict car bodies. All set against the most beautiful ochre/purple colored hills you could imagine that felt so weathered and ancient," he told Identity Theory.

    "We camped on a riverbed and heard stories about how the people there had been handed bread with poison on it by the whitefellas. We were getting to know the guys in the Warumpi Band. It was the first time I had heard the term 'Europeans' used to describe white people, of which I was one. And I believed it. Because out on that land, with their deep culture and history, it really felt like a country within another country, but somehow swept under the carpet."
  • The album takes its name from this song, with the lyrics: "Diesel and dust is what we breathe, this land don't change and we don't leave."
  • The line, "Not since Lasseter was here, black man's got a lot to fear," references Harold Lasseter, a white explorer whose search for an elusive gold reef in the desert of Western Australia became legendary. He died during a failed expedition to find his treasure in 1930. "It was a Raiders of The Lost Ark kind of deal, and some people still reckon Lasseter's reef exists," Moginie explained. "The line simply says hypothetically that if he was right, Lasseter posed a threat in terms of: more whites/more disease and alcohol/more pressure to get off their land because of how valuable the ground would be to white people. But back in the 1980s, and even now, the threats to Aboriginal people are political in nature: money for education, housing and health still come from our Washington, namely Canberra."

Comments: 1

  • Poppa Cowboy from FloridaBeen an Oils fan since I saw them in concert in Hollywood,Cal back in the late 80s. They were relatively unknowns,but over the years I've come to slowly (still am)understand the true meaning of their songs and now appreciate them more then ever. Love you guys
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