Ernie Dingo

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Ernie Dingo
Ernie Dingo.jpg
Dingo presents The Great Outdoors and see Australia
Ernest Ashley Dingo

(1956-07-31) 31 July 1956 (age 62)
Bullardoo Station, Western Australia, Australia
Occupation Actor, television personality, comedian, teacher, promoter
Spouse(s) Sally Ashton-Dingo (nee Butler) (1989–)
Children Willara, Zoe, Alyssa and Jurra

Ernest Ashley Dingo AM (born 31 July 1956) is an Indigenous Australian actor, television presenter, comedian, teacher and promoter originating from the Yamatji people of the Murchison region of Western Australia. He is a designated Australian National Living Treasure.


Born Ernest Ashley Dingo on 31 July 1956, at Bullardoo Station,[1] he was the second child of nine, including three brothers and five sisters. He grew up in Mullewa, Western Australia with his family.[2] His younger brother Murray died in a car accident in August 2007.[2][3] He went to Prospect Primary and then Geraldton High School.

He came to acting after moving to Perth and meeting Richard Walley, with whom he played basketball in a local team. Ernie went on to play state league first division for the East Perth Hawks.


Dingo is a distinguished actor and presenter in film and television, and promoted the Generation One "Hand Across Australia" which was a promotion for Indigenous equality.

He collaborated with Richard Walley to create a controversial "Welcome to Country" ceremony in Perth in 1976, after dancers from the Pacific islands would not perform without one.


Dingo's film career began in the early 1980s and he appeared regularly on screen through the 1990s. He appeared in Bruce Beresford's 1987 drama The Fringe Dwellers and worked on the 1988 docu-drama biopic Tudawali. He had a major supporting role in the international comedy blockbuster Crocodile Dundee II in 1988. He appeared as himself in the 1989 comedy Capuccino and had a major role in the 1991 Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World. In 1993 he starred in Blackfellas and he had a lead role in 1996's Dead Heart. In 1998 he starred in Somewhere in the Darkness. In 2010 he returned to the silver screen with a role in the Aboriginal musical Bran Nue Dae along with Jessica Mauboy and Geoffrey Rush.[4]

Television and other appearances

Dingo's big break in television was in 1989 in the first season of Channel 7 sketch comedy TV show Fast Forward (1989–1992).

As an actor, he has also appeared in many Australian television series such as Blue Heelers, The Flying Doctors, Heartbreak High and Rafferty's Rules. He appeared in the TV mini-series' The Cowra Breakout (1984), A Waltz Through the Hills (1987), (for which he won an AFI Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama) and Kings in Grass Castles (1997),[5] as well as co-starring with Cate Blanchett in the Australian television drama series Heartland (known as Burned Bridges in the United States).

He hosted the television program The Great Outdoors from its beginning in 1993 to its end in 2009.

Dingo narrated the Indigenous segment of the 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremony in Sydney, New South Wales.

In May 2007, Dingo appeared as one of the celebrity performers on the celebrity singing competition reality show It Takes Two. Dingo also hosted the first series of No Leave, No Life, on Channel Seven.

In February 2012 Dingo and his family were featured in episode three of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) documentary series Family Confidential.[6]

He appears in an episode of Serangoon Road, an Australian-Singaporean television drama series which premiered on 22 September 2013 on the ABC and HBO Asia. Also in 2013, Dingo is a Vietnam veteran, a retired Army drill sergeant facing his demons in episode six of the second series of Redfern Now, Dogs of War.[7] The episode was shown at the Adelaide Film Festival in October 2013.[8] In 2018 he played Keith Groves in the TV miniseries Mystery Road.

He is the host of a new travel show Going Places with Ernie Dingo, airing on NITV (channel34), free to air TV in Australia, Sundays 7.30pm in 2018. The three-part series one, and extended series two, can be accessed via the sbs on demand app.

Personal life

Ernie Dingo married Sally Butler, then a sales representative for 2Day FM, in 1989.[9] Dingo discovered in 2004 that he had a daughter, named Zoe, from a brief relationship before his marriage. He also has a daughter called Alyssa Wallwork and his wife also raised another grandchild Jurra, as well as their 16-year-old adopted daughter Wilara.[9] In his appearance on Family Confidential Dingo revealed that Wilara's father was another Aboriginal actor who was related to him.[6] Sally Dingo has authored two books about her husband and family, 2000's Ernie Dingo: King of the Kids and Dingo, The Story of our Mob in 1997. They live in the Melbourne suburb of Warrandyte.

Dingo is a prominent supporter of Australian rules football, and in particular the Australian Football League's West Coast Eagles and he sings their team song before every home game. He was on the selection committee for the Indigenous Team of the Century.

Awards and honours

Ernie Dingo was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1990, in recognition of his service to the performing arts.[10]

He received the AFI Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Telefeature for A Waltz Through the Hills in 1988, after being nominated the previous year for Tudawali. He has also been nominated for an AFI/AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama in 1994 for Heartland and in 2013 for Redfern Now.


In 2010, two women from New South Wales and Victoria claimed to have engaged in affairs with Dingo. It was subsequently reported that Ernie and Sally were living in an open marriage for the sake of their children.[11] The claim of an open marriage was found to be false and was retracted.[12]

In December 2009, Ernie made controversial comments hitting out at "hypocritical white people who lecture Aborigines about alcohol consumption".

What you should be worrying about is who is giving them access... who sells alcohol? Not black people," Dingo said.

We [Indigenous people] don't have a problem. Our problem is to say 'no' to you blokes, to white people... 'no' is not really part of our cultural background." "There are more white alcoholics than there are black people in this country, so don't come at us with restrictions and Aboriginal laws about alcohol.

It upsets me a lot. I'm passionate about the fact that people talk – journalists talk – about Aboriginal people with our drinking problem. We don't have a drinking problem at all... [The] Aboriginal drinking problem is white people selling to them."[13]

In August 2010, the WA Police Force announced they had opened an investigation into reports of child abuse by Dingo. It is alleged that Dingo slapped and verbally abused an 11-year boy at Carnarvon Primary School, and then made abusive comments singling out that particular boy while speaking at a school assembly shortly afterward. Dingo denied the claims, saying: "I deny it, but until there is an outcome I can't really talk about it."[14][15] He entered a plea of not guilty by endorsement in a letter to the court and a date of 3 February 2011 was set for trial in Carnarvon.[16] However, on 18 April 2011, following a mediation session, the assault charge was dropped and the matter formally withdrawn.[17]


  1. ^ Ernie Dingo (1956 – ). Film
  2. ^ a b "Dingo's brother dies in car crash". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 August 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  3. ^ Kappelle, Liza (10 August 2007). "Ernie Dingo loses a brother". The Brisbane Times. Fairfax Digital. AAP. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Ernie Dingo Filmography – Yahoo! Movies". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Kings in Grass Castles-Full Cast and Crew". 1988. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b "The Dingos". Family Confidential. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Dogs Of War". Redfern Now, Series 2, Ep. 6. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Redfern Now 2 - Dogs of War". Adelaide Film Festival 2013. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Huntington, Patty and Rachel Brown. "Dingo's secret daughter'. Sydney Morning Herald. 12 September 2004.
  10. ^ It's an Honour – Member of the Order of Australia
  11. ^ "Ernie Dingo in open relationship". 7 June 2010. Archived from the original on 12 June 2010.
  12. ^ Langmaid, Aaron (5 August 2010). "'Ernie's a d***head but I still love him' – Dingo's wife Sally insists marriage is strong". Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Ernie Dingo blames whites for Aboriginal drinking". 12 December 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  14. ^ Knowles, Gabrielle; Mc Guire, Mike (2 August 2010). "Police investigate Dingo assault claim". The West Australian. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  15. ^ Langmaid, Aaron (5 August 2010). "Fame, lies, scandals won't break us, says Ernie Dingo's wife Sally". Herald Sun. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  16. ^ "Ernie Dingo pleads not guilty to assault". 11 October 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  17. ^ "Assault charge against Ernie Dingo dropped". ABC News. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011.


  • Dingo, Sally. Dingo, The Story of our Mob. Random House Australia, 1997. ISBN 0-09-183634-4.
  • Dingo, Sally. Ernie Dingo: King of the Kids. Random House Australia, 2000. ISBN 1-74051-710-5.

External links

  • Ernie Dingo on IMDb
  • It Takes Two official website
  • The Great Outdoors official website
Media offices
Preceded by
No Leave, No Life host
season 1
Succeeded by
James Tobin
Retrieved from ""
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