'Over the Top with Jim' icon, reporter, author and memoirist, Hugh Lunn. Photo by L.J. May.

Writer Watch

Hugh Lunn



A Quick Recap

HUGH LUNN is one of Australia’s most respected journalists and authors. Reporter Lunn’s awards include three Walkley Awards for journalistic excellence and The Age Book of the Year Award 1985 for Vietnam: A Reporter’s War. After years of encounters with Rupert et al, Hughie gave journalism away and decided to write books instead – luckily for us.

The boy from Annerley’s witty and touching reminiscences took our memories out of dusty history books and made them live. After he wrote his hilarious childhood memoir Over the Top with Jim the people of Australia couldn't get enough of him. For more about Hugh and his must-have books, see the full profile below and on the next page.

What’s New?

Hugh Lunn has a new website

Hugh’s information has been holidaying on the Watchwords site for a year or so while Hugh’s own website was being updated, but the good news is that you can now go to the new, whizz-bang, all bells and whistles Hugh Lunn website at Webmaster and wife Helen is currently having a nervous breakdown after having been tortured by the tutorial while making it work.

Here you can catch up with Hugh’s latest happenings, projects, author talks, free reads and pics. However, the Watchwords profile page on Hugh has proved to be so popular we’ve decided to leave it up as a tribute to his work.

Hugh's Big Book of Lunn hits the shelves

In March 2013, ABC Books combined two of Hugh’s most popular books into The Big Book of Lunn (see cover photo below left) and the 560 page paperback whopper is currently walking off the shelves.

This little bottler includes the side-splitting childhood memoir Over the Top with Jim: Hugh Lunn’s tap-dancing, bugle-blowing memoir of a well-spent boyhood (1989) – in which the cold war is hot news, the cakes at ‘Lunns for Buns’ are iconic in Annerley and fear of communists is rampant. PLUS the sequel, Head Over Heels (1992), which follows Hughie’s late adolescence as a cadet reporter with the Courier Mail and his obsession with luminous fellow cadet Sally-Anne, who would later go on to become Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

At last - tennis great Kenny Fletcher is honoured in his home town!

Those of you who remember the terrific Australian tennis player Kenny Fletcher, (Hughie’s childhood friend and best mate of later years), will no doubt have read Spies Like Us in which young Hugh ‘…went to Hong Kong with my Wimbledon tennis-playing mate Ken Fletcher. He knew all about gambling and women’, and almost got himself arrested for being a spy. Spies Like Us: ‘It’s a ripper!’ said Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara. Well, there’s more...

Hugh always felt that the inimitable Fletch had never received appropriate acknowledgement as an Australian icon (who was seeded Number 3 at Wimbledon and frightened the wits out of opponents with a stroke that Harry Hopman called ‘the best forehand in the world’).

In 2008 Hugh published The Great Fletch. It tells the story of one of the world’s great larrikins, a lonely only child with an irrepressible spirit, who used to bang a tennis ball against a board in his back garden day and night and who later astonished the inhabitants of Annerley Junction when he helped Australia to win Davis Cups and also won national singles titles in Asia, Europe, Africa, Great Britain and New Zealand. He gave the world the forehand and he and Margaret Court were the only pair in the history of world tennis to win the mixed doubles Grand Slam. Surely this deserved some recognition!

The Great Fletch died of cancer in 2006 aged 65 and it seemed that he had been all but forgotten except by his family, Hugh and a scattering of people who remembered his former dazzling life and career.

But, at last, opposite the Pat Rafter Arena at the Queensland Tennis Centre at Tennyson, on Sunday, 29 December 2013, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk, unveiled a bronze bust of Kenny Fletcher in the park bearing his name – Ken Fletcher Park, along with Hugh Lunn, radio host Alan Jones and Kenny’s son, Julian Fletcher. Graham Quirk said it was a fitting tribute to one of Brisbane's true characters.

‘He’d be stoked,’ his son Julian said, but he also pointed out that his father’s influence on the community went well beyond tennis.

Hugh recalled in The Great Fletch, Kenny’s friendship with American philanthropist Chuck Feeney: ‘Fletch had always wanted to ‘do good’ and had spectacularly achieved his aim by bringing Chuck Feeney to Australia, where Chuck had given more than $350 million to help improve our lives and heal the sick. By his peculiar abilities and personality, Ken Fletcher had given Australia a gift no other tennis champion could.’  

You can see pics and read an article on the event ‘Bronze bust of Brisbane tennis legend Ken Fletcher unveiled’ at the Brisbane Times website on

So, it’s Ken and bust! Hughie is happy! The legend lives on!

And that’s the end of the update for now!


Hugh Lunn

Hugh Lunn is one of Australia’s most respected journalists and authors. After he wrote his hilarious childhood memoir Over the Top with Jim the people of Australia couldn't get enough of his books. Two of them, Over the Top with Jim and Lost for Words were named in the ‘50 books you can’t put down’ as part of the Books Alive project.

Reporter Lunn’s awards include three Walkley Awards for journalistic excellence, a special AMA Award for a 1979 medical article, ‘The Remaking of Robert Hoge, a National Press Club Best Sports Feature Award in 1979 for ‘The Maroon Avengers’, and The Age Book of the Year Award 1985 for Vietnam: A Reporter’s War.

In June 2009 Hugh was voted a Queensland Icon and one of the most 15 ‘influential artists’ in the state's history – in a list which included the Bee Gees, Geoffrey Rush, Powderfinger and David Malouf.

Hugh Lunn served his journalism cadetship in the 1960s with the Brisbane daily, the Courier-Mail and then worked overseas for seven years. He covered the Vietnam War during 1967 and 1968 for Reuters and found himself bang in the middle of the Tet Offensive in 1968. He was lucky to get out – many of his friends didn’t.

Again, as a correspondent for Reuters, Lunn reported on the Act of Free Choice in West Papua, and some time later returned to Australia and became Queensland editor of The Australian, being hired and fired on a regular basis by Rupert Murdoch’s paper.

At the age of 47, Hugh found himself unemployed (again) and decided to write a memoir about his childhood and growing up in Annerley Junction in Brisbane. This became the biggest-selling non-fiction book in Australia for 1991 and has become the biggest-selling Australian childhood memoir ever, with over 200,000 copies sold.

All but one of Hugh’s books (Four Stories: About Aboriginal Australians in Queensland published in 1982) are available through a Brisbane City Council library near you. If they're not at your local library, put them on hold and they will be delivered within a few days.

ABC Books have very sensibly reprinted many of Hugh’s books and these are available at your nearest ABC Bookshop. You can track down some of the others online at Booktopia or Fishpond.

Hugh does keep some copies of his books at home for people who would like him to sign them as gifts for their family and friends – or indeed for their own library. You can email Hugh on and tell him what you want, what you really, really, want. He’ll sign your books and send them to you, and you can pay by cheque. (Gens Y and Z, ‘What’s a cheque?) It’s a piece of paper old people use to pay for things.


Find out more about Hugh and his books on More Hugh...P.2


Out now - December 2013! Book cover photo courtesy of ABC Books.