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Ernie Dingo has earned enormous respect as a performer capable of extraordinary versatility. His talents as an actor, television host, reporter and comedian have made him one of Australia's best known and most loved performers.
Ernie grew up in Mullewa, in the Geraldton region of Western Australia. He moved to Perth when he was 17 and his first job was as an apprentice sign writer, which he says developed from his interest in painting.
He was selected for the State basketball team in 1973 and 1977 and was also very involved in traditional Aboriginal dancing. He joined the Middar Aboriginal Dance Theatre in 1978 and made his first trip overseas on the company's tour of Germany, which he says was a real eye-opener.
In 1979, Ernie was offered the lead role in the play Kullark in Perth. His subsequent theatre work includes a national tour of Jack Davis The Dreamers, a US tour of State of Shock in 1985 (which also played in Sydney and at the National Playwrights Conference in Canberra in 1984), Bran Nue Dae, Tourmaline, a visit to Poland with the Gardzienile Zubrycka Theatre Association as part of a Foreign Affairs cultural relations program in 1987 and working as a stand-up comic at Sydney's Trade Union Club.
Ernie's first major television role was in Tudawali (1987) for which he received an Australian Film Institute Award nomination for Best Actor in a Television Drama. He accepted on behalf of the production a Special Jury Prize at the Banff Television Festival in Canada.
His numerous other television credits include The Cowra Breakout (1984), Dirtwater Dynasty (1987), Clowning Around (1991), A Waltz Through the Hills (1987), for which he won an AFI Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama, the comedy series Fast Forward (1989), The Flying Doctors (1992), Heartland (1994) and the lavish Barron Entertainment production of Kings in Grass Castles (1996) based on the novel by Dame Mary Durack.
Ernie's film credits include Bran Nue Day (2009), Dead Heart (1996), The Fringe Dwellers (1985), Crocodile Dundee II (1987), Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (1987), Capuccino (1988), Wim Winders Until the End of the World (1990) and Mr Electric (1993).
Most recently Ernie has been seen hosting the Seven Network's Outback Wildlife Rescue. He hosted and reported for the top rating Seven Network program THE GREAT OUTDOORS since it began in 1992. Ernie was the host of THE WORLD AROUND US on the Seven Network from 1998 until 2001, and has fronted numerous other Seven productions, including two Olympic specials and Melbourne's Comedy Gala.
Ernie is a passionate advocate for his people and is vigilant about the portrayal of Aboriginals in film and television. He has won numerous awards and accolades and in 1997 was declared one of Australia's Top 100 national living treasures.
In 1990, Ernie was awarded the General Division of the Order of Australia by Her Majesty the Queen. In 1994, he was voted Aboriginal of the Year by the NAIDOC Committee and Personality of the Year by the Australian Caption Centre. In 2004 he was again recognised for his work when he was awarded the Deadly Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television.
He was awarded the 1999 People's Choice Award for Favourite TV presenter, his fellow nominees in the category were Ray Martin, Daryl Somers and Bert Newton.
Ernie loves sport and has been playing basketball since he was nine years old. He is also devoted to AFL and is an ardent West Coast Eagles supporter.