Australian journalist Mungo MacCallum dies, aged 78
Political journalist and commentator Mungo MacCallum has died, aged 78.
MacCallum lived in Ocean Shores near Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast in his later years.
Since 2014 he suffered a heart attack, throat cancer, emphysema and prostate cancer.
A prolific writer, MacCallum continued to write regularly up until his death for Byron newspaper The Echo and a weekly blog in The Monthly. He also published several books and penned two Quarterly Essays.
He spent many years in the federal press gallery and wrote for The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC during his career.
MacCallum wrote his final piece last Wednesday on a blog.
"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," he wrote.
"So I am afraid there is not much point in continuing to push the rock up the hill. I shall retire to my Lazy Boy recliner, and doze over the television watching (or not) old sporting replays, propped up by drugs, oxygen and the occasional iced coffee. 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. My gratitude for all your participation."
The Monthly editor Nick Feik paid tribute to "a legend of Australian political journalism".
"After years battling ill-health, he passed away this afternoon," Feik wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "We will remember him for his irreverence and humour, his humanity and his insight. Mungo, you will be missed."
MacCallum's local federal MP Justine Elliot said: "You will be dearly missed by so many of us on the North Coast. Thanks for your support and friendship over many years."
Journalist Karen Middleton said he was "the last true larrikin".
Fellow reporter Paul Bongiorno paid tribute to MacCullum's journalistic legacy, calling him "a giant of the craft. A razor sharp mind till the end and a sparkling wit."
MacCallum grew up in Sydney and attended Cranbrook School and the University of Sydney.
His uncle was federal Liberal politician Bill Wentworth, who was an MP from 1949 to 1977 and a minister of John Gorton's government.
Despite his privileged upbringing and conservative family roots, MacCallum was known for his progressive values.
In 2014 his death was falsely announced after journalist Anne Summers posted a tribute on Twitter and others joined the obituaries.
It turned out MacCallum was eating lunch in a Mullumbimby cafe.
MacCallum is survived by his wife Jenny Garrett.
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Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.