Architecture Foundation Australia

Max Harrison


Aboriginal Elder Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison has been a cherished guest tutor and critic at the Glenn Murcutt International Master Class each year since 2005.

Uncle Max, as he is fondly known, is an initiated Yuin man, he grew up on the South Coast of NSW as part of a close community where some boys and young men were still selected for initiation into ancient ways. As an adult, seeing the widespread marginalisation of his people and lack of acceptance of traditional teachings, he began what has become his life’s work – providing a way for others to understand Aboriginal culture. Over the past three decades, he has taken thousands of people onto country – teaching international students, architects, environmentalists, government ministers and advisers, medical practitioners and researchers his traditional culture. He has been consulted by government on land rights issues and shared the podium at major events with spiritual leaders from around the world, including the Dalai Lama. In 2009 he presented at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne.

His teachings cover the Yuin people’s Creation Dreaming, bush lore, foods, healing, laws and punishment, spirituality and the significance of relationship to land. In passing on traditional wisdom Uncle Max focuses on three truths: See the land … the beauty; Hear the land … the story; Feel the land … the spirit.

Max has brought indigenous insights to architectural responses to place and to the siting of master class projects, he has also advised members of our profession on real projects, providing guidance on physical, cultural and spiritual issues. His book My People’s Dreaming, with photography by Peter McConchie, is available online from Finch Publishing, Sydney. In it Uncle Max speaks of life, land, spirit and forgiveness.  


Mother Earth births everything for us.

Father Sky carries the water and

oxygen for us to breathe.

Grandfather Sun warms the planet,

warms our body, gives us light so

we can see, raises the food that the

Mother births and raises most of our

relations, all our plants and trees.

Grandmother Moon moves the water and

gives us the woman-time and our birthing


 Further reading on Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison: Wisdom of the Elders