Angus McDonald – photographer, writer, author and adventurer - was born in Paris in 1962. His photographs and articles appeared in leading publications worldwide including The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, National Geographic Adventure, Time Asia, and the South China Morning Post. He is the author of The Five Foot Road: In Search of a Vanished China (Angus & Robertson) which documented his 1994 journey across China to Burma in the footsteps of Victorian explorer George Ernest Morrison - ‘Morrison of Peking’ - precisely one century later. Interweaving the story of his own travels with those of Morrison and the changes wrought by a century of conflict and revolution, it broke new ground in travel writing. Writing in The Five Foot Road he commented: “Travellers like myself are often called upon to explain ourselves. What drives us? The only thing I can ever think of to say, is that I can’t imagine not doing it.”
Angus could never stay still for very long. He travelled widely, invariably solo, throughout his life. His assignments took him all over central and south-east Asia, and he built a vast archive of images: from the Great Wall of China, which he covered for National Geographic, to Mount Everest where he was official photographer on a fatal Indian civil expedition, to the decimated south-Indian and Sri Lankan coastlines following the tsunami of 2004, Angus documented all he encountered with grace and humility. His early travels in Tibet - soon before the Lhasa uprisings of 1987-89 - gave him a profound respect for Tibetan culture and for the place of religion in traditional societies. A strong advocate for Tibetan autonomy he developed close relations with the Tibetan community when later he settled in Mcleodganj, home of the Dalai Lama and the main exiled diaspora, and where he was based for several years. From his home in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas he spent five years compiling India’s Disappearing Railways, travelling to the most far-flung corners of the country. From the Western Ghats of Rajasthan and the plains of Maharashtra to the Blue Mountains of Tamil Nadu, from the Himalayas to Assam, this is a tribute to the country he loved.
Angus died suddenly during a brief remission from cancer whilst travelling in Myanmar in February 2013, aged 50. India’s Disappearing Railways was published and exhibited posthumously, selling almost 5,000 copies in the first six months of release. All proceeds from its sale go directly to The Angus McDonald Trust, the charity established by his widow Catherine Anderson. To read more about the book, click here.
To view Angus's obituary, published in The Sydney Morning Herald, click here.