Keith Dunstan

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Keith Dunstan
Born (1925-02-03)3 February 1925
East Malvern, Victoria
Died 11 September 2013(2013-09-11) (aged 88)
Melbourne, Victoria
Occupation Journalist and author
Parent(s) William 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 25 books.

Early life[edit]

Dunstan was born in East Malvern, Victoria,[1] the son of journalist and 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 1943–46, 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 (1949–52) and London (1952–54). 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 (1979–82) 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 his friend and 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 founding president of the Bicycle Institute of Victoria (1974–78). Whilst living on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula he was an enthusiastic grower and maker of pinot noir wine.

Honours and awards[edit]

In the January 2002 New Year Honours List Keith 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".[4]

On 26 May 2009, he became Patron of the Prahran Mechanics' Institute.[5]

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, and they had four children. Dunstan died of cancer on 11 September 2013.[6] Dunstan's son, David, reported that his father had written his own, self-effacing, obituary.[1]


  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", Melbourne Press Club website. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Dunstan, John Keith", It's an Honour Government website, 26 January 2002. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Our Patron", Prahran Mechanics' Institute, May 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Vale Keith Dunstan, gentle footy hater, cyclist and master of words", The Age, 11 September 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.

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