- “Hugh Lunn’s books of memoir re-defined the genre and proved that best-sellers, such as his Vietnam: A Reporter’s War, could also be award-winning books of literature. Which makes him a rarity among authors.” Dr Craig Munro 2018 [Macquarie University; UQP Publisher 1983-2009]
- Hugh was named a Queensland Icon for Queensland’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2009. He was in good company, including Wally Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Powderfinger and the Great Barrier Reef.
- He has written two books on Australia’s lost language — Words Fail Me and Lost for Words.
- As a journalist in the 1970s, he won three national Walkley Awards for feature writing.
- Hugh wrote about Australia’s most famous export — media mogul Rupert Murdoch — in a book titled Working for Rupert.
- Hugh’s memoir about 13 months in Vietnam as a Reuters war correspondent is called Vietnam: A Reporter’s War. It won the Melbourne Age Book of the Year literary prize in 1985, was published in New York, and is still in print there and in Australia.
- Hugh returned to writing biography with a book called The Great Fletch — it’s about his late friend Kenny Fletcher of Annerley Junction, who was a Wimbledon and Davis Cup champion. In January 2012, Fletch was at long last inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.
- Hugh coined the phrase “There is no such thing as an ex-Queenslander; there are only lapsed Queenslanders” in November 1979 when he convinced Senator Ron McAuliffe that a rugby league State of Origin match between New South Wales and Queensland was viable. In 2011 Hugh wrote a musical radio play for the Rockwiz crew and the Queensland Music Festival. The show was simultaneously performed on stage and broadcast on 612 ABC Radio. The theme of the musical was The Rugby League State of Origin.
- Hugh’s Over the Top with Jim — about growing up in the 1950s — became the biggest-selling Australian childhood memoir ever published.
Hugh Lunn has never had a problem finding his way into trouble.
In 1964, aged 23, he talked his way into ‘Red China’ before the Cultural Revolution —a story he tells in Spies Like Us.
On arrival in London, Hugh worked for the Daily Mirror before snaring a job at Reuters, 85 Fleet Street. They sent him to Vietnam where, with three days of his year to go, he witnessed the 1968 Tet Offensive. Three of his Australian journalist friends — including his roommate Bruce Pigott — were killed there. Vietnam: A Reporter’s War won an Age Book of the Year award in 1985 and has twice been published in New York.
In 1969 Hugh was Reuters correspondent in Jakarta when Indonesia took over the western half of New Guinea and its 800,000 Papuan inhabitants. Only Hugh and Dutch journalist Otto Kuyk were there to tell the world—by morse code—that the UN ‘Act of Free Choice’ was a rort.
Returning home in 1971, Hugh joined The Australian, the newspaper Rupert Murdoch started. As Rupert’s ‘foreign correspondent in Queensland’, Hugh won three national Walkley Awards for feature writing between 1974 and 1979. He also wrote books on politics, Queensland, and even a tell-all book about his seventeen years Working for Rupert, which was praised in America as ‘without a doubt the most instructive, emotional, enlightening and ironic book on Rupert Murdoch’.
In 1984 the Aboriginal Treaty Committee published Hugh’s Four Stories with the chairman, Dr Nugget Coombs, describing them as ‘these historic articles’.
Hugh misses the inventive way Australians used to speak before American TV took over our lives. So he wrote Lost for Words and Words Fail Me to recapture in context our rich, direct Aussie lingo.
His childhood memoir Over the Top with Jim became Australia’s all-time bestselling childhood memoir. Over the Top with Jim and Lost for Words were named in the ‘50 Books You Can’t Put Down’ national project.
In 2009 Hugh was named a Queensland icon, on the state’s 150th anniversary. He was in good company, along with David Malouf, Geoffrey Rush, the Bee Gees, Powderfinger … and the Great Barrier Reef.
A recent project was for the SBS TV Rockwiz team at the Queensland Music Festival in 2011 which toured Queensland and was broadcast on Steve Austin’s ABC Local Radio show around the state. Hugh wrote a five episode musical radio serial which was performed live on stage each night by the beautiful Julia Zemiro, Andrew Buchanan and Bruce Spence as part of The Queensland Country Comfort Hour concerts. Hugh is currently adapting it into State of Origin: The Musical.
Hugh turned Over the Top with Jim into a play for the inaugural Brisbane Festival in 1996 with Bille Brown directing, and he has adapted both Over the Top with Jim and Spies Like Us for serialisation on Ian McNamara’s Australia All Over ABC Radio show.
In 2006, “Australian Story” on ABC TV broadcast a programme on the life of Hugh’s friend, Wimbledon and Davis Cup tennis champion Ken Fletcher. Following this, ABC Books asked Hughie to write Fletch’s biography, and The Great Fletch was published in 2008.
Over the Top with Jim has been set as a prescribed text for Higher School Certificate English in NSW; while Vietnam: A Reporter’s War has been set as a core text for English students in Year 12 in Victoria and for Years 11 and 12 in Tasmania.
- Two documentaries — “Over the Top with Hugh Lunn” and “Head Over Heels with Hugh Lunn” – made by Bridget Goodwin of Bridie Films were screened by ABC TV in Queensland in 1996 and 1997.
- Hugh also appeared in two documentaries concerning West Papua: “Act of No Choice” which was made by Mark Worth in 1999 and screened on Dateline SBS TV, and “Land of the Morning Star” made by Mark Worth and produced by Janet Bell for Film Australia in 2003 and narrated by Rachel Griffiths.
- Hugh later appeared in a series of TV advertisements around Australia – paid for by Australian philanthropist Ian Melrose – to tell Australians what had happened in West Papua in 1969.
- 2010 Third Place in the Art Toppling Tobacco Prize
- 2009 Named a Queensland Icon for the State’s 150th Anniversary
- 1994 Advance Australia Award for contribution to literature
- 1985 Age Book of the Year Award for literature (Vietnam: A Reporter’s War)
- 1979 Walkley Award for series of articles on Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong, Thai-Cambodian border, and Malaysia
- 1979 National Press Club Award for best sporting feature: “The Battle of Ballymore” (later published in Behind the Banana Curtain)
- 1977 Australian Medical Association special award for “The Remaking of Robert Hoge” (later published in Queenslanders)
- 1975 Walkley Award for an analysis of why Queensland is different from the rest of Australia
- 1974 Walkley Award for a series of six articles on the 1974 Brisbane flood which showed the government knew a massive flood would certainly occur sometime but warned no one; and that the standard “storm and tempest” insurance did not cover the 10,000 householders for flood.
- SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS
1. Words Fail Me: A Journey through Australia’s Lost Language 2010
2. Lost for Words: Australia’s Lost Language in Words and Stories 2006
3. Queenslanders 1984
4. Behind the Banana Curtain (illustrated by Alan Moir) 1980
5. Four Stories: About Aboriginal Australians in Queensland (published by the Aboriginal Treaty Committee) 1984
6. On the Road to Anywhere 2003
7. Working for Rupert 2001
8. The Over the Top with Jim Album (designed and illustrated by David Mackintosh) 1995
9. Spies Like Us 1995
10. More Over the Top with Jim Stories 1993 (AKA Fred & Olive’s Blessed Lino; illustrated by David Mackintosh)
11. Head over Heels 1992
12. Over the Top with Jim 1989 (child’s version: Jim & Me adapted by Barbara Ker Wilson 1992)
13. Vietnam: A Reporter’s War 1985
14. The Big Book of Lunn (combined Over the top with Jim and Head over Heels) 2013
15. The Great Fletch: The Dazzling Life of Aussie Wimbledon Larrikin Ken Fletcher 2008
16. Joh: The Life and Political Adventures of Johannes Bjelke- Petersen (unauthorised biography) 1978
- The Australian, Reuters, London Daily Mirror, Far East Trade Press Hong Kong, The Courier-Mail
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