Mungo Wentworth MacCallum was an Australian political journalist and commentator.
Mungo Wentworth MacCallum was an Australian political journalist and commentator.

Farewell Mungo, a brilliant mind and 'last true larrikin'

ONE of Australia's most influential journalists and political commentators, Mungo Wentworth MacCallum, has died.

MacCallum cut his teeth covering federal politics in the Canberra Press Gallery from the 1970s to the 1990s, but his career spanned more than 40 years and he only put down his pen last week.

In his final piece, he wrote: "I never thought I'd say it, but I can no longer go on working.

"It takes all my effort to breathe and I'm not managing that too well.

"And now my mind is getting wobbly hard to think, let alone concentrate.

"I am rapidly winding down.

"I am sorry to cut and run it has sometimes been a hairy career, but I hope a productive one and always fun."

MacCallum, who lived at Ocean Shores, wrote for the country's leading national and state daily newspapers and contributed to numerous magazines and broadcast media, with witty and intelligent stories.

In 2014 he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and three years later he was also diagnosed with prostate cancer, which spread through his bloodstream and into lymph nodes and a hip bone.

Tributes are now flowing for the beloved scribe, along with condolences for his partner, Jenny, and family.

Award-winning producer and broadcaster, Dr Norman Swan, tweeted: "So sorry to hear of Mungo MacCallum's death. Many years ago as I was trying to break into journalism, he gave me advice which made a huge difference. He decoded Fairfax, put my struggle into perspective and suggested a path forward."

Media commentator and author Mike Carlton wrote: "F--k. Mungo MacCallum - journalist, wit, philosopher - died at 4pm this afternoon (Wednesday). Family were with him. One of the choice and master spirits of this age. Mungo and I exchanged farewell emails a few days ago. 'I still say when death is staring you in the face the best idea is telling him to piss off', he wrote."

Richmond MP Justine Elliot wrote: "Vale Mungo, a friend to many of us on the North Coast. I will miss him greatly, as I know many of you will too."

Former Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell also took to Facebook to express her sadness, writing: "The magnificent Mungo has departed this world. Vale Mungo and deep condolences to his partner Jenny."

Marcus Strom, President MEAA and Walkleys director: " Australians love to think they embody the larrikin spirit. Mungo and his irrepressible ratbaggery reminded us it was all too rare in public life."

Kate Middleton: Ah, Mungo. It seems your time is now done, as you clearly knew when you said your farewell last week. Thanks for all you brought to Australian journalism. The last true larrikin. Vale."

Paul Bongiorno: "Sad to hear of the death of Mungo MacCallum - a giant of the craft. A razor sharp mind till the end and a sparkling wit."

Nick Feik, editor, The Monthly: "The great Mungo MacCallum has left us. After years battling ill-health, he passed away this afternoon. He was a legend of Australian political journalism. We will remember him for his irreverence and humour, his humanity and his insight. Mungo, you will be missed."

Julie Brooks: "We have lost an important voice in our wider community. Condolences to his family."

Simone Gould: "What a loss, such a brilliant mind of a quirky, insightful and all round lovely human bean."

Beverley Jan Rawson: "Long live the last words of Mungo, one of the most distinguished writers of probity. My late husband Allan Rawson (news editor) always said, 'His writings never detoured from his personal truth, reflecting his quality of having strong moral principles, honesty and decency'. Thus his legacy to the community and all emerging journalists is one of the highest standards 'of truth and never walk by silent'. Rest in peace Mungo."