You'd think it would take a lot to impress a seasoned traveller, who has literally been all over the world, but Ernie Dingo says that it's the residents that keep him interested in living the nomadic lifestyle, visiting place to place.
The familiar face of Australian television is back for a third season of his popular Australian travel show, Going Places with Ernie Dingo.
"What I love about hosting this show, is really just talking to the people who live in these wonderful places and hopefully trying to see it through their eyes."
"What I love about hosting this show, is really just talking to the people who live in these wonderful places and hopefully trying to see it through their eyes," he told NITV.
"You know, some days you'll have a lovely person and s*** weather, but they make the weather bright, they make the location, just as lovely as they are."
With little time to spend on location whilst being inundated with the pressures of work, I ask how he's able to connect with the place and its people, in order to get the most out of the experience.
"Open mind, open heart," he explains. "You're there to see the beauty that others see, [and embrace] what the locals have all the time."
Ernie has worked with the same — largely Indigenous — crew from day one on Going Places and says knowing the methods and working style of your colleagues is crucial to meeting tight deadlines. He says it's gotten to a stage where he has gained a 'family on the road', complete with little individual quirks and shared memories.
In regards to his own methods, have conducted countless numbers of interviews, Ernie has really mastered the art of engaging with on-camera talent, people who often have little to no experience being interviewed or surrounded by rolling film. Over the years, he's learned not to speak to any talent prior to the on-camera interview.
"It may look like I'm being a bit standoffish, not talking to the talent in the setup," he explains. "But I want to hear from them for the first time and be genuinely interested. Because it's not like, 'oh, they told me that five minutes before the camera started.'
"I want to hear from them for the first time and be genuinely interested."
I don't want that fakeness. It's good fun having that fresh [dynamic] with them all the time."
In the new season, audiences are introduced to some unique locations and even more unique characters. Visiting almost every state and territory (missed out ACT!), Ernie experiences the country's best-kept secrets, from Charlotte Pass to Yirrkala and even Strahan in Tasmania. When asked whether he has a favourite, he becomes decidedly democratic.
"I have lots of places I love going and I try not to make one better than the other because that then makes me feel like 'no place could be as good as such and such', and you're not allowing yourself to be open to what's at the new location," he says.
The same goes for the people he meets on the road. However, one particular story from Lake Mungo stands out to him.
"There's a farmer who plays footy for the Richmond Football Club in the women's league," he explains. "She grew up without footy and she's pretty old to go in the mix, but she's made it and it's going to be great to watch her sitting in on the season. It's about an eight-hour drive for a home game for her. So it's people like her, from the bush, that you get to have a yarn to. And that's special."
Ultimately, Dingo says that he doesn't want to influence viewers to feel a certain way about his programs. He feels it should be personal for each individual, and only hopes that they get a better sense of the world and the people around them.
"I'd like people to see the beauty, to feel and use all their senses in regards to the places we visit. That depends on the season as well. I mean, I might tell you to go to 'such and such', it's a lovely place, but in the middle of winter it's sh**, you know? You should have been here last week!" He adds with a laugh. "I want people to just sit down and enjoy these lovely people that we have around us all the time and be open to their environment that they live in, and just enjoy."
Watch Going Places with Ernie Dingo on Wednesdays, 7.30pm on SBS and Sundays, 7.30pm from 16 June on NITV (Ch. 34). Catch up is available on SBS on Demand.
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Watch Episode One on SBS On Demand: