Max Bourke

A native of Australia, Max Bourke has had a long career in agriculture and conservation. Involved in the public service for more than twenty years, he was appointed Director of the Australian Heritage Commission from its inception in 1976. In this position he contributed to the creation of the Australian National Committee of ICOMOS and participated in the preparation of Australia's first nomination files for the World Heritage List. He also served as Deputy Chairman of ICOMOS International from 1984 to 1987. He attended four meetings of the World Heritage Committee between 1981 and 1986 as an advisor to the Australian delegation and, in 1986, as Head of the delegation.

Max Bourke later headed the Australian Arts Council and the Multicultural Affairs Office before leaving the public sphere in 1997 to found Rural Funds Management Ltd. In the same year, he also became the first director of the Thomas Foundation, an organization dedicated to countering the decline of biodiversity in Australia. Retired since 2012, he continues his philanthropic involvement in several organizations dedicated to nature and the arts. The Australian government has acknowledged his contribution by naming him a member of the Order of Australia in 2004.

The following audio excerpts are from an interview with Max Bourke by Christina Cameron in October 2013 in Canberra, Australia. He describes his personal involvement and that of his country in the early years of the World Heritage Convention. Through his answers, he pays tribute to the ideals underlying this international tool but highlights the difficulties of its practical application.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Max Bourke by Christina Cameron, Canberra, Australia, 30 October 2013.