My travel life: Ernie Dingo, actor and TV presenter of SBS's Going Places with Ernie Dingo

Ernie Dingo, TV presenter, actor and comedian whose show, Going Places with Ernie Dingo, airs on SBS on Wednesdays at 7.30pm and NITV on Sundays at 7.30pm.

NUMBER OF COUNTRIES VISITED

I've run out of fingers and toes trying to count, I'd say well over 50.

ANY PASSPORT MISHAPS?

I was going to Disneyland and at Brisbane Airport, everyone was so friendly and saying, "Hi Ernie, how are you doing?" It wasn't the same when I arrived in the US. It turns out my passport had expired two days before. They took me into a cell and photographed me, fingerprinted me and stuck me in jail until the next flight out! Another time, I was in Perth doing a job and [director] John Cornell called, wanting me to come to New York for the Crocodile Dundee wrap party. My passport was in Sydney but I went to the passport office the next morning and they said, "Mr Dingo, we have your passport here courtesy of John Cornell and the Crocodile Dundee team!" All you need is mates like that to get your passport sorted out straight away!

MY PASSPORT PHOTO IS not like my first photo passport which was really deadly. I had this look in my eyes that said, "I'm going on a holiday, and someone else is paying for it, they're paying me to go!" I was going to Germany on traditional cultural business. I was never able to emulate that look again, unfortunately.

I CAN'T STOP GOING BACK TO Ireland. I've had so many jobs there and the Irish people make it seem like a home away from home. I love trying to learn Celtic, and when you walk on the soil, you can actually hear the language in your footsteps and that's what I love about it. I also love to go to our eastern islands [New Zealand], especially the South Island.

MY LAST TRAVEL DESTINATION WAS Tassie, filming Going Places, and previously I was in Alice Springs filming for the show. I travel a lot around Australia. Last year, I clocked up so many points flying with Qantas and I drove 83,000 kilometres in my car.

MY NEXT TRAVEL DESTINATION IS Port Lincoln and then I'll be going across the Nullarbor, over hundreds of miles of dead straight road, probably up to Cook. Heading west, you bet I'll be singing along to Kenny Rogers and to John Denver songs like Country Roads, but I'll be changing up the words so it's all about Western Australia.

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I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO the isolation – big wide open spaces and the big blue sky. I've got a 200 inverter in my car, so I'll be able to plug in the coffee machine, as there's no coffee shops, no peak hour traffic, no big shopping malls, no phone reception. The people you meet out there are escaping the same kind of things. But there's still so much happening around you, it makes you realise how small you are, and gives you plenty of time to think. In the silence, you think about times you've spent with your kids, or the last time you put your arm around your mother. You can direct your thoughts as if it were a movie, because there's nobody around to distract you.

I LOVE TO TRAVEL BECAUSE I come from a nomadic lifestyle, but I also love meeting people and telling them about what is around them and speaking from Indigenous points of view. We are surrounded by places of cultural significance in our country, such as birthing trees and birthing creeks. My mum was born on a river bed and I was born on a washhouse floor and you can take the words out of an Archie Roach song: "Be careful where you tread, coz a child was born there". I have a close connection to the land and wherever I go, I think of that cultural knowledge around me. There's a lot of spirituality inside me, so when I travel, the red tailed black cockatoo is my grandmother and I know she's around, and I feel safe.

MY TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY IS open mind, open heart, and remember that when you visit somewhere and meet the locals, they are there for a reason. They didn't choose these places to live, that place chose them, and they wait for visitors like you to travel through there. Just have a yarn.

THE ONE TRAVEL MISTAKE I ALWAYS MAKE IS buying too many travel gadgets for my car when I could save the money and use it for fuel.

THE ONE THING I REALLY DO GET RIGHT WHEN I TRAVEL IS not needing music in the car; the windshield is my television. The colours, the sounds, the continual changing views of desert, trees and creeks. Through the windshield you have this wonderful vista.

IF I HAD TO SIT IN THE MIDDLE SEAT THE OTHER PASSENGERS I'D WANT ON EITHER SIDE OF ME WOULD BE my mum who has passed, but she's always sitting on my shoulder in everything I do. She's been known to sit in the passenger seat when I'm driving, and every time I go somewhere I talk to her about where I'm heading. On the other side, Bud Tingwell, Vincent Lingiari, Gough Whitlam, Gulpilil and Paul Hogan, who's as mad as a lark!

THE ONE FAMOUS TRAVELLER I REALLY ADMIRE IS [naturalist] Sir David Attenborough. He is the ultimate traveller. When you're watching his shows and witnessing his travel, he makes it seem like it's between you and him. With his knowledge and experience, I'd just love to be the coffee-maker on his set.

AIRLINE FOOD IS pretty good lately. I love the artistry of it all, the presentation of it in its little boxes is brilliant. It's packaged well, it's nicely done and half the time, you don't remember the taste. I don't know it that's a ploy, but it works on me.

AIRPORT SECURITY IS a lot of fun, I must be one of those blokes that they love to pick on. There could be six people in front of me and they'll wave them past, and say, "Hey Mr Dingo, you sir, come over here".

HOTELS ARE a blessing in so many different ways. From the $30 room, where you have to take your beach towel cause you know that's going to be softer than the pillow, to the expensive ones where you get a selection of pillows, depending on what kind of head you have. There will be like 10 you can choose from, and often robes, too.

I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO Croatia. I'd just come down from the bush, the skinniest little black fella, and worked as a signwriter and painter in Perth with all these mad Mediterranean blokes. They had these big welcoming families with grandmothers who knew how to cook, and they told me about Croatia, and it sounded beautiful beyond belief. But I keep getting sent to Central Australia.

I'VE NEVER WANTED TO GO TO Kabul because of the conflict. I'd love to see the lifestyle, but not currently while there's so much conflict.

AISLE OR WINDOW AND WHY?

Window, so I can look out at the country. And preferably emergency seats for a bit of leg room.

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