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Conversations with Ernie Dingo

So here we go again, ‘Strayla Day’. Hype. Flag waving. White people not giving any sort of a real shit. Those born into privilege walking all over those who were not. How can anyone celebrate this day of infamy?

Which has nothing to do with Ernie Dingo.

Met him about 20 years ago at a Qld Folk Festival. Being a shy hermit I walked up to him and totally stretched myself into hopefully some form of intelligent vocalisation. I said “Hello Mr. Dingo”. He smiled, flashed his pearly whites, and we shook hands. And that was the end of that.

Of course it was not the end of that. It was the start of something.

I have watched his career on Television over many years. I have watched his interviews with many people from multiple ethnic backgrounds. And do you know what I have noticed? Everyone he talks with greets and leaves him with a smile. There is no hate in the man. He is so Aboriginal … yet there is no hate in the man.

When I met him all those years ago he did not dump guilt on me. He simply said “G’day Mate.”

I have never had a full and long conversation with Ernie Dingo. My loss. I wish such a conversation had come my way.

The bullshit of Australia Day embarrasses me. The warmth and love, to a white stranger, from a man like Ernie Dingo, humbles me.

It makes me stand back and think about many things.


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  1. Andrew J. Smith

    The Australia Day celebration originally came via Hawke/Keatingand to celebrate bicentenary, then followed by Howard et al. explicitly promoting exclusive Anglo Saxon and/or Irish Oz jingoism while implicitly dog whistling anyone who is not…..

    We need a return to the pre ’80s when we did not ‘celebrate’ nor feel compelled to treat Oz Day as a quasi religious experience (aka Anzackery, the flag, AFL/cricket etc.) but maybe quiet reflection….

  2. Consume Less

    Well said Keith. I care so little about Australia Day I didn’t even know it was today, until I read this article. Can’t stand the flag waving jingoism but I am grateful Australia is not at the same level as America with their flag fetish. Although most countries have some sort of flag fetish when there is something about national pride going on. Happy for the date to be changed to a time that suits Indigenous Australians as well.

  3. Kaye Lee

    According to ScoMo, “We have risen above our brutal beginnings, we have overcome, survived, and thrived.”

    Perhaps someone should have a chat with him about Aboriginal disadvantage, incarceration rates, life expectancy, deaths in custody, child removal, locking up 10 year olds.

    In a shout out to the “cancel culture” mob, he goes on to say “We do it on the day when the course of this land changed forever. There is no escaping or cancelling this fact.”

    His words sound so paltry compared to the Uluru Statement from the Heart…

    “We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

    As an aside, you will be thrilled to hear Tony Abbott has joined the IPA which he says represents the views of mainstream Australia.

  4. Keith Davis

    Hi Kate Lee. Ugh .. Tony Abbott and the IPA. Watched the Sunrise Ceremony on NITV this morning where the issues you mentioned were discussed in depth .. a very thought provoking broadcast.

    Also watched the rather drollish pomp and ceremony of the national flag-raising ceremony and the granting of certificates to new Australian citizens. Made me wonder why Indigenous people don’t get to preside over all that?

  5. Bronte ALLAN

    I do not like our flag–it is a throwback to when we kowtowed to England for everything–nor do I particularly like or celebrate Australia day or all the crap jingoism associated with it. How many people draped in “our” flag or other crap realise that most (if not all of it) is made in China? How patriotic is that? We must have our OWN Australian flag, our own national Anthem–not the bloody dirge we have now– & we MUST celebrate an Australia Day, on an “appropriate day, that means something to ALL Australians, regardless of what color you are or where you were born! It is about time people!

  6. Coralie Naumann

    Thanks Keith, enjoyed reading about your encounter with Ernie, that smile is so sincere and common among many First Nation’s people. Way back in 1969/70 in North Western Australia I met many with that same smile. It was the turning point in my life.
    ‘Cringible’ ScoMo, if there is such a word. Do you think the government’s of the day care what everyday people think? It’s all about the money and what’s in it for them & their wealthy friends.
    The injustice of the whole system is beginning to poison the air that we breath. I’ve no idea how we can turn things around when money buys just about everything and a 2PP system is what they continually aim for. Hung parliaments are the closest we’ll ever get.

  7. Gangey1959

    Maybe scotty would have more understanding of the first british arrival in botany bay’s effect on the Aboriginies of Australia if someone fired a musket (Let’s be fair) at the happy-clappers as they exit their place of worship after whateverthefuckhappens.
    When the white sails and big boats aproached for the first time, no wonder the “Locals” were a bit wary, but I reckon it was the bang and gunsmoke that really had an effect. (There is a shield in the british museum that we want back, by the way.)
    The white attitude of take it at any cost was illustrated last year in glorious living technicolour when riotinto demolished the Juukan Caves. “Take your $40M and fuck off” seems a poor response to the senior management responsible.
    My Australia Day is December 13. That’s when I was born, in Seymour.
    Australia desperately needs a new Flag, with no british reference, a bigger Southern Cross, and a new version of the Indigenous Flag. We need a new Anthem. Even Aussie Aussie Aussie is better than what we have now.
    And the mad monk “joining the ipa? WTF ?????? Isn’t he a foundation member ? Or is he just a member in general? Either way, he wouldn’t understand the basic Aussie values if they were carved backwards onto his forehead. Heaven knows he looks into the mirror often enough imagining himself as a human.

    Cheers all.
    Have one for me, Im off to work.

  8. Keith Davis

    As one does .. I sent a copy of my tiny Aus Day article to Ernie Dingo. He responded via DM. His response is quite special to me and private. All I will say is this .. he is a special human being.

  9. Michael Taylor

    He sure is, Keith. As are you.

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