Don Burke attended St Aloysius College Milsons Point & then went on to the University of Sydney doing dentistry initially then switching to Agricultural Science. He felt better courses were offered by TAFE so then went to Ryde College of Horticulture obtaining Honours and Distinction Certificates in Horticulture and Tree Surgery & was president of the Students’ Association. As president of the Students’ Association he was involved in organising the syllabus for the horticulture courses as well as instigating a number of improvements to assist students at the College.
He subsequently worked for and managed a number of nurseries in the Sydney area. He was also a TAFE lecturer in horticultural science, horticultural marketing and genetics. He has been a guest lecturer in genetics at the University of Sydney’s Veterinary School.
During his time lecturing at TAFE, he was a founding member of:
Year of the Tree, Greening Australia, Decade of the Tree & Sustainable Development Australia
He was also President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture – NSW during which time he:
Initiated the first environmental weeds legislation in Australia
Organised an industry seminar on rainforest logging
He later became a board member of Landcare Australia.
He initiated the National Registration Authority for Agricultural & Veterinary Chemicals (now APVMA) for which his primary objective & achievement was to rid Australia of dangerous chemicals such as the DDT family & organochlorines.
CTC Productions Pty. Ltd, a media production company was formed in the late 80s. It is owned and run by Don & Marea Burke. CTC produced Burke’s Backyard, Backyard Blitz & several documentaries and specials for the Nine Network.
Burke’s Backyard on television began in 1987 and after 17 ½ years on air, the final program, “The Last Hooroo”, went to air on November 26, 2004. Burke’s Backyard programs included specials from Papua New Guinea, England, Ireland, Italy, Greece, US, Mexico, Spain, Bali, New Zealand, Japan & China.
Don was also Executive Producer of Backyard Blitz which was on air for 9 years.
Don has had 15 books published the most recent ones being Growing & Using Herbs & Spices. There was also a DVD produced in 2014 – “Backyard Farming – Back to the Kitchen”.
CTC was also was a joint venture partner with ACP (now Bauer) in publishing the Burke’s Backyard magazine for approximately 10 years.
CTC Productions has produced a number of documentaries where Don was presenter & Executive Producer.:
Listen to the Kids (a look at the play needs of kids)
Wild Sex (looking at various aspects of animal sexual behaviour)
Fatal Instincts – a documentary on the environmental damage caused by feral cats
Pas Chez Nous – condemning the nuclear testing by the French at Murora Atoll. Screened in Europe.
In 2005 & 2006 Don was Executive Producer and presenter of the Burke’s Backyard Environmental Special & several seasonal backyard specials.
Backyard Blitz environmental Specials with Don as Executive Producer included:
Re-building of Innisfail High School following Cyclone Larry with cutting edge environmental principles and ideas – involved Peter Cosgrove, Landcare & other govt agencies.
Environmental repair work on Phillip Island – with Landcare.
Order of Australia 2012 for services to environment, horticulture & media
AIH Inaugural Golden Wattle Award
Banksia Award for media contribution to the environment
Don received the Variety Club’s Award for TV performer of the year for 1990.
6 Logies – presenter & Executive Producer of Burke’s Backyard TV program
2 People’s Choice Awards as presenter & EP of Burke’s Backyard TV program
6 Logies as Executive Producer of Backyard Blitz
Regular segments for A Current Affair
Panellist on the Paul Murray Program on Sky News – when time permits.
Syndicated radio segments around Australia
Board member of the Advisory Science Council for University of NSW
Member of management committees of several environmental groups involving the University of Newcastle
Filming for the Burke’s Backyard website’s Youtube channel – www.burkesbackyard.com.au where many of Don’s most popular segments are located as well as newly shot segments.
Patron of Retina Australia (for approx. 20 years)
Ambassador for Asbestos Awareness
An annual Australia Day Ambassador since 1990.