You have seen his face, heard his name plenty of times before and travelled with him across the world. Ernie Dingo is an Australian Icon, with a television career spanning nearly 20 years. He is also passionate about his country and education. We interview Ernie about his travels, his tv experiences and his thoughts about education …
Hi Ernie. Where are you at the moment, and what are you up to today?
I am back in Melbourne. And I am going to get a haircut! I am on my way over to Western Australia again soon, so we are unwinding from NAIDOC celebrations and looking to do some more event work with a few schools over there.
You are from the Yamaji tribe. Where are they located?
Yamaji comes from the south of Geraldton up to Port Hedland – that whole shelf there. Inside the Yamaji country there are sixteen language groups. In July and August it’s wildflower time, and it’s absolutely beautiful.
There is a lot of mining going on through there now – lots of iron in the area. Inland there is farming for stock and grain, and I try to get there as much as possible.
As far as family is concerned, it is never enough. They never come to me though; I always have to come to them! I guess it’s the profession.
You have worked on The Great Outdoors for 18 years. That is an amazing career. How did you start out in the television industry?
I did my first stint with telly in the ‘80s, and it was a mini series about the Cowra Breakout – the biggest prison breakout in the world … and it was in Cowra!
No one knows too much about it and that’s why we wanted to reveal the story, because a lot of things are not acknowledged in our history. That was the first piece I did, and it was in 1983. Since then it has been here there and everywhere for television.
And that even lives on for you today, as this year you starred in Brand Nue Dae along side stars like Jessica Mauboy. How was the feature film experience?
I actually did the stage play of Brand Nue Dae 20 years prior, and it was a wonderful experience. Great musical, great production.
And on top of that, now the film has been released this year, and we have been doing international tours. It is about to break in the US, so it is exciting.
Back to travelling. I am sure you get asked this all of the time, but where are your top places you have been to with The Great Outdoors?
Outside of Australia, I would say Canada. There are also parts of Africa that are beautiful. But my most favorable country to visit is New Zealand. There is just so much that the place has to offer, that we sort of take it for granted. It is an unbelievable place.
Inside of Australia, it all depends on the season you go for, the experience you are after, the type of things you enjoy. Australia definitely rates very highly with me. It’s the best!
You are working alongside Stan Walker for the Deadly Days Tour with TAFE NSW. Why do you think it is important for young kids to be educated?
The main reason why I believe education important is because of the many opportunities it can give someone. Even 20 years ago education was important to take you to the next level.
Nowadays, education is so necessary. If the kids deny themselves by finishing their education too early, they will kick themselves and sell them self short.
Opportunities are boundless when you are educated and the more kids that get involved and take the initiative, the better it is for their future.
Do you ever get sick of travelling Ernie?
No, I really don’t. I like the travel side of it, because things change if you happen to visit twice. Also, you meet people along the way and you develop great friendships all over the world.
Thank you Ernie.