Lunn served his journalism cadetship with The Courier-Mail. Upon completing his cadetship, he worked overseas for seven years. During 1967 and 1968 he covered the Vietnam War for Reuters. In 1969 Lunn reported on the Act of Free Choice in West Papua while as Reuters correspondent in Indonesia.
On returning to Australia he became Queensland editor of The Australian. Over the course of the next two decades Lunn was in turn sacked and re-employed by Rupert Murdoch's newspaper a number of times. Finding himself without employment at the age of 47, he began to pen a memoir about his childhood.
Lunn is now famous in Queensland for a number of autobiographical books: in June 2009 he was voted a Queensland Icon as one of 15 "influential artists" in the state's history in a list of 15 which included the Bee Gees, Geoffrey Rush, Powderfinger and David Malouf. The best known of his memoirs is Over The Top With Jim. Published in 1989, it became the biggest-selling non-fiction book in Australia for 1991. It tells the story of his Brisbane childhood and his friendship with Jim Egoroff and Ken Fletcher. After reading the book Egoroff is said to have visited Lunn and threatened to "punish you for your sins".
Lunn is famous for coining the phrase "there is no such thing as an ex-Queenslander", which he first used when in November 1979 when discussing with Senator Ron McAuliffe, President of the QRL, on a 90-minute plane trip from Brisbane to Canberra, the viability of a State of Origin series.
In 2019, three off-Broadway performances of The State of Origin Musical! - written by Hugh Lunn with comedian and composer Gerry Connolly - were performed at The Princess Theatre in Annerley Road, Wooloongabba, a stage on which Hugh had debuted as a tap-dancer, 70-something years earlier.
- Walkley Award (1974) (for six feature articles dealing with the Brisbane floods)
- Walkley Award (1975) (for feature on "Why Queensland is Different").
- Walkley Award (1979) (for a series of articles from Australia, Hong Kong, Cambodia and Malaysia on Vietnamese boat refugees)
- Special AMA Award for a 1979 Medical Article "The Re-making of Robert Hoge"
- National Press Club Best Sports Feature Award (1979) (for "The Maroon Avengers")
- The Age Book of the Year Award 1985 for VIETNAM A Reporter's War
- In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, Hugh Lunn was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for his role as an "Influential Artists".
- In November 2018 Lunn was inducted into The Australian Media Hall of Fame at a dinner in Melbourne.
- Joh: The Life and Political Adventures of Johannes Bjeke-Petersen 1978
- Behind the Banana Curtain 1980
- Four Stories: About Aboriginal Australians in Queensland 1982
- "Queenslanders" [(1984)]
- VIETNAM A Reporter's War 1985
- Over The Top With Jim 1989
- More Over The Top With Jim Stories 1992
- The Over The Top With Jim Album 1995
- Head Over Heels, University of Queensland Press 1992 ISBN 0-7022-2418-9
- Fred and Olive's Blessed Lino, University of Queensland Press 1993 ISBN 0-7022-2575-4
- Spies Like Us, University of Queensland Press 1995 ISBN 0-7022-2757-9
- Working for Rupert Hodder Headline 2001
- On the Road to Anywhere HH 2003
- Lost for Words, ABC Books 2006 ISBN 0-7333-1759-6
- The Great Fletch, ABC Books 2008
- "Words Fail Me", ABC Books, 2010
- Pringle, James (22 January 2004). "MEANWHILE : Year of the Monkey marks a turning point in Vietnam". New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 January 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- Saltford, John (2003). "May to July 1969". The United Nations and the Indonesian takeover of West Papua, 1962–1969: the anatomy of betrayal. Routledge. pp. 225–226. ISBN 0-7007-1751-X.
- "Independence for West Papua". An Phoblacht. 16 December 1999. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- "News". Hugh Lunn Official Website. Archived from the original on 14 October 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- The Australian Media Hall Of Fame - Hugh Lunn