McDonald has been working as a journalist in mostly Asian countries like India, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong and China, where he was a correspondent based in Beijing from 2002 to 2005. He was in India between 1990 and 1997, covering the time immediately after the economic reforms. He was also the political editor for the Far Eastern Economic Review and the foreign editor for the Sydney Morning Herald.
In 2005, he won the Walkley Award for newspaper feature writing for his article What's Wrong With Falun Gong, which is about the brutal suppression of the Falun Gong religious movement in China.
- Suharto's Indonesia, 1980
- The Polyester Prince, 1998: This unauthorized biography of Dhirubhai Ambani never went to print in India after the publishers were threatened with legal action by the Ambani family.
- Death in Balibo, Lies in Canberra, 2001: Co-authored with Desmond Ball
- Masters of Terror: Indonesia's Military & Violence in East Timor in 1999, 2002
- Mahabharata in Polyester: The Making of the World’s Richest Brothers and Their Feud, 2010: The book was published in India as Ambani and Sons.
- Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st Century, St. Martin's Press, 2015
- "Hamish McDonald". The Age. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Hamish McDonald". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Age staff win journalism's top awards". The Age. 2 December 2005. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "What's wrong with Falun Gong". The Age. 16 October 2004. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "The return of The Polyester Prince". Business Standard. 2 October 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "A Durable Yarn". The Economist. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- Veena Venugopal (23 September 2010). "Hamish McDonald | The Reliance split is good for India". Live Mint. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Cream Weaver". Outlook India. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
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