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Keith Dunstan

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Keith Dunstan
Dunstan on his bicycle in the 1970s
Born(1925-02-03)3 February 1925
Died11 September 2013(2013-09-11) (aged 88)
Melbourne, Victoria
Occupation(s)Journalist and author
ParentWilliam Dunstan

John Keith Dunstan OAM (3 February 1925 – 11 September 2013), known as Keith Dunstan, was an Australian journalist and author. He was a prolific writer and the author of more than 35 books.

Early life[edit]

Dunstan was born in East Malvern, Victoria,[1] the son of journalist and a Victoria Cross recipient, William Dunstan, and his wife Marjorie. He attended Melbourne Grammar School and Geelong Grammar School and was a flight lieutenant in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1943 to 1946, stationed at Labuan in the Pacific.


In 1946, Dunstan joined The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, publishers of The Sun News-Pictorial and The Herald (since merged as the Herald Sun). He was Foreign Correspondent for the H&WT with posts in New York (1949–1952) and London (1952–1954). This period was followed by a position with The Courier-Mail, for which he wrote a column "Day by Day". He returned to Melbourne and, from 1958 to 1978, contributed a daily column, "A Place in the Sun" for The Sun News-Pictorial, the city's largest circulating daily newspaper. During these years his popularity grew, and he became a Melbourne institution.[1]

From 1962, he wrote regularly for the Sydney-based weekly magazine The Bulletin under the pseudonym of Batman (after the city's controversial founder, John Batman)[2] and for the travel magazine Walkabout. In 1976 and 1977, he was president of the Melbourne Press Club, succeeding Rohan Rivett.[3] He was the United States West Coast Correspondent (1979–1982) for The Herald and Weekly Times. Later, he was a regular columnist and occasional contributor to The Age newspaper.


He published a quartet of books on Australian character: Wowsers (1968), Knockers (1972), Sports (1973), and Ratbags (1979), and many works of history on popular subjects ranging from wine, to sport, to retailing, and including an unfashionably critical study of the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, Saint Ned (1980). His pioneering works of Australian sports history included The Paddock That Grew (1962) on the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which has now seen several editions and updates. He also wrote an autobiography, No Brains at All (1990). Other publications included The Melbourne I Remember (2004) and Moonee Ponds to Broadway (2006), a study of one of his friends and a fellow Melburnian, the satirist Barry Humphries.

Other activities[edit]

In 1967, he became founding secretary of the Anti-Football League, a tongue-in-cheek organisation that pokes fun at the Australian rules football obsession.

An enthusiastic commuter and recreational cyclist, he was the first president of the Bicycle Institute of Victoria (now known as Bicycle Network) from its founding in 1974 to 1978. He was a bicycle touring enthusiast who with his wife Marie cycled across the United States in the 1970s and through China in the 1980s.[4]

Whilst living on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula he was an enthusiastic grower and maker of pinot noir wine.

Honours and awards[edit]

In the 2002 Australia Day Honours, Dunstan was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) "for service as a journalist and author, and to the community, particularly as a supporter of the Berry Street Babies Home".[5]

On 26 May 2009, he became Patron of the Prahran Mechanics' Institute.[6]

On 11 October 2013, Dunstan was posthumously inducted into the Melbourne Press Club's Victorian Media Hall of Fame. He was told of his forthcoming induction before his death.[2]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Marie (daughter of Charles McFadyen), and they had four children. Dunstan died of cancer on 11 September 2013.[7] Dunstan's son, David, reported that his father had written his own, self-effacing, obituary.[1]


  • 1853-2003, Victoria Police Australia : celebrating 150 years in the community, foreword by Christine Nixon; introduction; editor, Marilyn Miller Melbourne : Victoria Police, 2003
  • A cricket dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook, c. 1983
  • A Day in the life of Australia : the complete collection of his Age column, [compiled by] South Melbourne : Macmillan Australia, 1989
  • Above Australia : a salute to our cities, photography by Leo Meier; text ... [et al.] by Meier, Leo, 1951- McMahons Point, N.S.W. : Weldons, 1985
  • Batman in the Bulletin : the Melbourne I remember; with a foreword by Barry Humphries; selected and edited by David Dunstan Melbourne : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2004
  • Bowls - the lawn bowls dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook South Melbourne : Sun Books, 1986
  • Bundy : a centenary history, <Bundaberg, Qld.> : Bundaberg Distilling Company Pty. Ltd., (1988)
  • Collins : the story of Australia's premier street, Judith Raphael Buckrich; with Keith Dunstan, Rohan Storey & Marc Strizic by Buckrich, Judith Raphael, 1950- Melbourne : Australian Scholarly Publishing, c2005
  • Flag, the first 30 years : the growth and experiences of the hospitality industry in Australasia, South Melbourne : Flag International, 1991
  • Footy, an Aussie rules dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook Melbourne : Sun Books, 1983
  • Gurney & Bluey & Curley : Alex Gurney and his greatest cartoons, John Gurney with by Gurney, Alex, 1902-1955 South Melbourne : Macmillan Company of Australia, 1986
  • Health and fitness : the dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook South Melbourne : Sun Books, 1985
  • Hook, line and sinker : the dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook South Melbourne : Sun Books, 1986
  • Informed sources : a history of the Melbourne Press Club 1971-2001, [Melbourne] : Melbourne Press Club, 2001
  • It's all up hill, and Jeff Melbourne : Pegasus Books, 1979
  • Just Jeans : the story 1970-1995, Kew, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Pub., 1995
  • Kiwi : the Australian brand that brought a shine to the world : a history of the Kiwi Polish Company; about this book, Hamish Ramsey; [foreword by] Geoffrey... Crows Nest NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2017
  • Knockers, North Melbourne, Vic. : Cassell, 1972
  • Make friends for Australia, Melbourne : Australian Tourist Commission, [1979?]
  • Moomba, the first 25 years, Melbourne : Sun News-Pictorial and Melbourne Moomba Festival, 1979
  • Moonee Ponds to Broadway, [Melbourne, Vic.] : Australian Postal Corporation, 2006
  • My life with the demon, Melbourne : Wilkinson Books, 1994
  • No brains at all : an autobiography, Ringwood, Vic. : Viking, 1990
  • No brains on Tuesday : the collected wit & wisdom of Keith Dunstan, Melbourne : Schwartz & Wilkinson, c1991
  • Not a bad drop - Brown Brothers, Kew, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 1999
  • Racing : the horse-racing dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook Melbourne : Sun Books, 1985
  • Ratbags; foreword by Barry Humphries Sydney : Golden Press, 1979
  • Saint Ned : the story of the near sanctification of an Australian outlaw, Sydney : Methuen Australia, 1980
  • Skiing, the skiing dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook South Melbourne : Sun Books, 1987
  • Sports, with a foreword by Max Harris, Melbourne : Sun Books
  • Supporting a column Melbourne, London, Cassell, 1966
  • Tennis : a tennis dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook South Melbourne : Sun Books, 1984
  • The amber nectar : a celebration of beer and brewing in Australia, Ringwood, Vic. : Viking O'Neil, 1987
  • The Australian uppercrust book, ... [and others]. Edited by Geoffrey Dutton and Lee White South Melbourne : Sun Books, 1971
  • The confessions of a bicycle nut, Melbourne : Information Australia, 1999
  • The paddock that grew : the story of the Melbourne Cricket Club; research by Hugh Field London : Cassell, 1962
  • The people's ground : the MCG, Kew, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2000
  • The perfect cup : the story of coffee, Keith Dunstan, Sue Fairlie-Cuninghame Balmain, N.S.W. : David Ell Press for Andronicus, 1989
  • The store on the hill, Melbourne : Macmillan, 1979
  • The tapestry story : celebrating 150 years of the Melbourne cricket ground, written; illustrations by Robert Ingpen South Melbourne : Lothian Books, 2003
  • Two old geezers tell you about bridge, the A-Z, Keith Dunstan, Geoff Hook Melbourne : Wilkinson Publishing, 2011
  • Wine, the wine dictionary; illustrated by Jeff Hook Melbourne : Sun Books, 1985
  • Wowsers; being an account of the prudery exhibited by certain outstanding men and women in such matters as drinking, smoking, prostitution, censorship and gambling, Melbourne : Cassell Australia, 1968


  1. ^ a b c "Columnist Keith Dunstan dies of cancer aged 88", ABC website', 13 September 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Rupert Murdoch, Keith Dunstan hailed as pioneers of journalism", Herald Sun, 11 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Melbourne Press Club events" Archived 25 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Melbourne Press Club website. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  4. ^ Dunstan, Keith (1999). The Confessions of a Bicycle Nut (1st ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Information Australia. pp. 219–221. ISBN 1-86350-252-1.
  5. ^ "Dunstan, John Keith", It's an Honour Government website, 26 January 2002. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Our Patron" Archived 12 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Prahran Mechanics' Institute, May 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Vale Keith Dunstan, gentle footy hater, cyclist and master of words", The Age, 11 September 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.

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