TV Insider: Hail our national treasure Ernie Dingo
I COULD watch Ernie Dingo all day long. There's something so down-to-earth and genuine about the man that comes through on the screen.
He is one of Australia's National Living Treasures, after all.
Luckily for me, and many other viewers, the beloved TV presenter is back in a new series for SBS's NITV channel.
The three-part Going Places with Ernie follows Dingo as he explores Australia's iconic destinations of Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef.
It's not your typical travel show, however. Ernie finds out about these unique destinations from the people who live and breathe them; he meets the people who work in the travel industry, as well as the traditional owners of each place he visits.
NITV senior producer Rima Tamou was inspired to create a travel series with a difference.
"Through the stories of the people Ernie meets, audiences will discover there is even more to these beautiful places than first meets the eye," she says.
"Through his warmth and genuine curiosity in people and places, and instant rapport with locals, Ernie discovers little known facts and hidden secrets from the people who know these amazing places best."
The first episode focuses on the reef, a subject which has been filmed so many times by so many travel and documentary crews, including Sir David Attenborough last year, that it's hard to imagine anyone finding a new angle.
But Dingo manages to do it. He meets up with Yindinji elder Gudju Gudju, who shows him the mangrove swamps, and poetically explains how "we need the country, the country doesn't need us".
He also goes for a scuba dive with diving instructor Erin to find out what her job and living on the reef mean to her; and he meets Gareth, a skipper, and his partner Teresa, a toxinologist, who are raising a family to know and love the reef.
Even the helicopter pilot, Sunshine Coast native Jenna Ryan, who takes him on an aerial tour of the reef, has an interesting story to tell.
And of course there's plenty of vision of the reef in all its splendour. One national treasure showcasing another, that's great TV if you ask me.
Going Places with Ernie Dingo debuts Sunday at 7.30pm on NITV (Channel 34).