Hugh Lunn

There's no such thing as an ex-Queenslander. There's only lapsed Queenslanders.

Hugh Lunn is an acclaimed author, biographer and multi-award-winning journalist, as well as one of the finest Australian writers of his generation.

Lunn’s journalism career started with a journalism cadetship at The Courier-Mail, heading to the Daily Mirror in London before becoming a Reuters correspondent covering the Vietnam War. At great personal risk, he witnessed and reported on the 1968 Tet Offensive, a series of coordinated Viet Cong attacks on cities and outposts in South Vietnam. Several Australian journalists – including Lunn’s roommate – were killed.

With courage and commitment, he continued to report for Reuters in volatile situations including the Act of Free Choice in 1969, when Indonesia took over the western half of New Guinea.

Returning to Australia in 1971, Lunn joined The Australian in Queensland, winning three Walkley Awards for feature writing between 1974 and 1979. In 1985, he published a memoir, Vietnam: A Reporter’s War with University of Queensland Press, which was critically praised. It won The Age Book of the Year award and was published twice in New York. 

He also enjoyed great success with his childhood memoir, Over the top with Jim, a humorous and heart-warming evocation of growing up in the suburbs of Brisbane. It became the biggest selling non-fiction book in Australia in 1991 and the highest-selling Australian childhood memoir of all time. It has since been serialised nationally on radio, screened as a documentary and adapted by Lunn into a stage play. UQP Publisher Dr Craig Munro wrote that Lunn's memoir “re-defined the genre. Lunn proved that bestsellers could also be award-winning books of literature.”

Lunn continued writing, with another dozen books following over the ensuing two decades. In recent years, Lunn has continued to experiment with radio and stage, and in 2019, the play he co-wrote with Queenslander, comic actor and composer Gerry Connolly, State of Origin: The Musical!, made its debut in Brisbane.

Across a long and distinguished career, Lunn has received many honours for his work, including an Advance Australia Award in 1994 for his contribution to literature, naming as a Queensland icon in 2009, appointment as a Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015, and induction into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2018.

In recognition of his standing as a well-respected Brisbane writer and journalist, Lunn’s likeness was captured by Rhyl Hinwood in a carved frieze at Wordsmiths Café on the St Lucia campus in 1995. His Doctor of Letters honoris causa celebrates Lunn’s enduring legacy as a strong literary voice in Queensland.

Awards

Doctor of Letters honoris causa
2021
Hugh Lunn