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Max Dulumunmun Harrison was a deeply respected and revered Elder of the Yuin Nation, which extends from Wollongong down the east coast of Australia to Gippsland and out to the Southern Tablelands of NSW. Initiated by his grandfather and uncles into the traditional ways when he was a teenager, his great gift was his ability to straddle two cultures, to communicate and share his wisdom and knowledge with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.
Born in 1936, he grew up moving with his family from camp to camp to escape the dreaded Welfare. He had little formal education and taught himself to read and write. From the age of 10, his grandfather and uncles took him walking with them on Country, teaching him how to learn from the land. From these masters he learnt respect and sacredness and connection to the greatest teacher of all, nature.
Over the course of his life, he worked in various occupations, including Aboriginal health services, where he worked tirelessly with those affected by alcohol and other health issues. In recent years his charity Back to Country has helped many young men to discover their culture and identity.
His life’s purpose has been to pass on the teachings of his Elders, which he referred to as the ‘living treasures’ of his life, saying that he had to ‘give it away to keep it’. Over the years he has taught students in schools and universities and advised government ministers as well as Australia’s leading architects. His first book, My People’s Dreaming, was published in 2009. In December 2021 he passed into the Dreaming, leaving behind a huge legacy.