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Don was born in Williamstown in 1942, the youngest of Alexander and Lillian Gunn's seven children. His father fought with the Seaforth Highlanders in the deserts of Mesopotamia and the trenches of the Somme. His father’s experience led to Don's life-long abhorrence of war that saw him become involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement of the 60s and 70s. He completed his apprenticeship as a boilermaker at the Williamstown Naval Dockyards and he became involved with the Labour movement and the Labor Party.
In 1969 the Australian Labour Member of Parliament, Dr Jim Cairns, arranged for study tour of the Australia Trade Union Movement for Apisai Tora, a member of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs. The study tour was sponsored by five of the most powerful trade unions in Australia - the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Boilermakers' and Blacksmiths' Society of Australia, the Building Workers' Industrial Union, the Meat Industry Employees Union and the Federated Miscellaneous Workers' Union of Australia.
Don Gunn was on the Victorian ALP state executive and a member of the DOGs (the Defence of Government School) and he was invited by Apisi Toras to visit Fiji. Don took his first wife Trish and young daughter Nikole to live in Suva, where he was installed as 'deputy' editor of the Pacific Review - a Fijian Trade Union publication. In post-Independence Fiji, the hiring policy meant he couldn't 'take away a job from a Fijian' by being hired as editor. But in reality, he ran the newspaper. On returning to Australia, Don worked as a freelance writer for various publications, before taking on a position as a proof reader and reviser at The Sun News Pictorial and later The Herald. Eventually his first marriage broke down and he moved back to Melbourne where he met his second wife Paula, with whom he would have two children, Anna and James. They moved to the Kyneton area eventually settling in North Drummond, where they have lived for nearly 30 years.
Don originally worked for Elliott Midland Newspapers in the early 1980s, filling in at Castlemaine when journalists were on leave. This was during a period when he was completing an arts degree, majoring in Philosophy and Western Traditions. In 1984 he became a full-time employee at Castlemaine and over his 26 years with the company held editor roles of the Midland Express, Macedon Ranges Guardian, and on his return to Castlemaine in 1997 was editor of the Castlemaine Mail until his retirement in 2010. Don was a fearless journalist who upset some at various times, but if he knew something that he felt his readers should know, it was published, no matter who disagreed. He knew media law and ensured his stories were within the legal requirements. He could also be trusted, and many an 'off the record' meeting was held with Don so he could get a better understanding of an issue. He had an extraordinary memory and knowledge of so many things, a great love of poetry and music. In early 2000, he was appointed to the National Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention as a result of his handling of the issue in the local newspapers when the Kyneton community was rocked by a spate of youth suicides.
Don Gunn passed away on Sunday, 14 April 2013.
This is an abbreviated version of Don Gunn's obituary in the Macedon Ranges Guardian, 25 April 2013.