Wombats Gunna Work It Out > by Moses Iten

| | | | |
weld valley concert Wombats Gunna Work It Out By Moses Iten TAS, VIC | 14.02.2006 “I'm on a quest to find a way,” raps Elf Tranzporter - rapper, activist, and part of the hip hop crew Combat Wombat. Combat Wombat at the Weld Valley blockade 3
Moses Iten visits the front-lines of politics and music.
“Our mainstream media is extremely good at hiding Australia's past and present” - producer Monkeymarc's response to those who believe that Melbourne's nomadic hip hoppers Combat Wombat are only ranting and raving to a converted audience - “So this is us taking back control of the media, and giving a clearer and more honest perspective of what's happening here.” “We've gone from selling our first album ourselves out the back of the van to being signed to Elefant Traks and being distributed by Inertia. This has enabled us to get our music out much further than we ever could have imagined. We have been getting emails from people in the USA and Japan saying how much they love the album and when are we coming over there,” elaborates Monkeymarc. “It's great to see the issues that we touch on, like refugees, Aboriginal genocide, Australia's nuclear industry, racism, Pine Gap etc. getting recognition in other countries. The USA and the rest of the world tend to see Australia as the lucky country, and kind of have a false idea of what it's like. Hopefully our album is educating the rest of the country and the planet to what is really going on here”. Imagine a small town in Tasmania. The hard-working people who have lived here precariously for generations are mostly happy to have jobs, which they will defend at all costs. In the heart of this town lies a shopping village dominated by a multinational supermarket chain, in the company of franchises of several take-away food and video hire stores. Forget about this town. Leave its streets behind and keep driving through lush farmland - logged and cleared by the axes and horses of previous generations --- with each mile you see less and less homes... Suddenly the country is wild, lush bush, with huge trees dominating the skyline. Then everyone in the car falls silent as clear-felled coupes slap us in the face. Black stumps. A high perimeter fence hides a woodchip-fuelled power station. You can't help feeling sad. With so many conflicting percentages being thrown around - by both logging and anti-logging camps - the general population decides to wear rain coats and ignore the spittle. Protecting the last remaining stands from the saws of people desperate for jobs, is left to those willing to live in tents and face arrest on a daily basis. Combat Wombat at the Weld Valley blockade 1

“When we pulled up in our borrowed little old battered Tarago, I couldn't believe my eyes. A full-size replica of a pirate ship blocking the road, saving some of Australia's most pristine forest: The Weld Valley. I had no idea how big it was. The attention to detail is verging on fanatical,” Monkeymarc told me the day after the Tasmanian launch of Combat Wombat's sophomore album Unsound System. “Full-size masts with lookouts, and a cabin to DJ from - this was the real deal! I immediately felt extremely privileged to be playing on such a stage. It felt like a unique time in Australian blockading history. I have seen the Mad Max camp at Lake Eyre blockading Roxby Downs Uranium mine. Fort Goolengook blockading the South East Gippsland Forests - but this was something else. I got told that they used 800 metres of rope to rig this thing up.” Once upon a time, Monkeymarc was working in a Western Australian gold mine. With a degree in sedimentology, he worked as an environmental geologist for four years. “But the way mining companies are treating some of the Aboriginal tribes in WA and NT moved me enough to get out there and do what I think is right --- which at the time was to basically get a sound system going and go to blockade camps and start putting my view out there,” Monkeymarc told Cyclone of 3D World. Since setting off for Jabiluka with a crate of records, Monkeymarc has become producer of a crew that has sold thousands of albums and significant Triple J airplay. Combat Wombat at the Weld Valley blockade 2

Whilst Combat Wombat definitely “lifts the spirit of the activist troops”, one critique of their new album is that it would do little to “move floating voters.” How does Monkeymarc respond to that? “Who knows? All I can say is that if people don't believe us: go out and do some research and see what you find out. Maybe this will change their minds.” Festivals like EAR at the TINA festival in Newcastle; the Sustainable Living Festival and the Environmental Arts Festival in Melbourne and the new Two Fires Festival in Braidwood - just to mention a few - bear witness to a new activist energy amongst Australian artists. “Festivals like this show people that we can make a change, and that it doesn't take that much of a sacrifice to do so,” believes Monkeymarc. “It all starts on an individual level. That's the beauty of it. We don't have to wait for a huge revolution and for people to take to the streets, we can start at home. This is the real revolution. Making a change in the way you live and conduct your life. The more that people start to realise this the quicker we will make the transition. It's about taking control and practising what you preach and taking back the power that is rightfully yours as a human being on this planet. If you don't like the way things are going do something about it. It's apathy that's going to kill the planet so get busy.” >> Check out the Combat Wombat website:www.combatwombat.org . >> Combat Wombat's music videoQwest and documentary Tunin' Technology is available for download through Undergrowth's Motion Pixels section. >>This article was first published on THE PROGRAM - the Australia Council's youth arts and culture website. >>For more information on the Weld Valley ongoing blockade and protest against old growth logging, check out the campaign website here.