About Walter Mason
Walter is a writer, speaker, teacher and tour leader with a special interest in spirituality.
Born in 1970 he spent his childhood in rural North Queensland, including some years doing correspondence school on a remote tin mine. On returning to “town” he devoted his life to singing, acting and the arts, and was constantly performing from the ages of 12 – 17.
In 1988 he moved to Bathurst to study Theatre at Charles Sturt University. In 1991 he went to UNSW to study Chinese. He didn’t manage to graduate from either of these courses.
For many years Walter was a bookseller, working at Berkelouw’s on Oxford St., and later at Adyar, the famous metaphysical bookshop in the Sydney CBD. He later moved into a key role in a buying group for independent booksellers, and spent several years working with many of the most famous and long-established bookshops in Australia. Later he worked in various low-level roles in publishing, mostly in the area of sales and marketing.
Walter Mason first visited Vietnam in 1994, and has been back many times since (so many he has lost count – though over 20 by now). Most notably he spent 3 months there in 1996 travelling the country with an eccentric Vietnamese-Australian Buddhist monk, living in remote monasteries and hermitages; in 1999 he spent 6 months at the Ho Chi Minh Social Sciences University studying the Vietnamese language; and he spent three months travelling and writing Destination Saigon over 2008/2009 (published by Allen & Unwin in 2010).
Walter's second book, Destination Cambodia, was published in September 2013 by Allen & Unwin.
A lifelong interest in Eastern spirituality saw him involved with a quasi-Buddhist cult in his early 20s, which evolved into him switching to more orthodox forms of Buddhism, being particularly inspired by the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. One of Master Nhat Hanh’s central teachings is that all religion is inspired from a place of goodness, and one of his most famous books is Living Buddha, Living Christ. For many years Walter has been hesitant to call himself a Buddhist, a Christian, or anything, really.
In 2005 (at the age of 35) Walter Mason returned to University and did an undergraduate degree in English. On graduation he took the prize for the most outstanding degree in the humanities and went on to do his Honours degree (1st Class), for which he received the University Medal. His Honours thesis was on the motif of the lonely queer in the writings of Sumner Locke Elliott. For some years he was part of the University of Western Sydney’s prestigious Writing & Society Research Unit, where he pursued a PhD thesis on the history of self-help books in Australia. Though he finished writing his thesis, it remains unsubmitted.
Walter's partner of 30+ years, Thang Ngo, is a prominent Vietnamese-Australian community leader, having served for many years as an independent on the Fairfield City Council, representing the Cabramatta district. Thang is a celebrated food writer and advertising executive.
He lives in Cabramatta, and attends a Vietnamese Buddhist temple weekly, as well as going to church!
Walter is president of the NSW Dickens Society (2021). He is a popular literary lecturer throughout Australia, as well as a teacher of film and literary history. He teaches courses and workshops in creative writing and mindfulness.
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