Mary trained as a journalist on Australian Women's Weekly in the late 1960s and spent several years as a reporter and feature writer on various Sydney magazines and newspapers.
In the 1970s she moved to Leura in the Blue Mountains with her young family, and became a passionate organic gardener. She used her journalistic skills to write and edit more than forty gardening books and magazines, and for ten years she was the NSW presenter on the ABC's top rating show Gardening Australia.
In 2000 Mary spent six months living alone in a small room in a medieval town in southwest France. At the end of her sabbatical she bought a nearby village house that she still visits every year. She wrote four memoirs about her experiences as an Australian woman living part time in France, as well as a cookbook and several new gardening books.
Her passions are still family, food, gardening and travel. She leads tours in France and the Himalayas and has written a book and made a film on a local rural French restaurant, 'Lunch with Madame Murat', for the SBS Network.
After the death of her husband David Hannay in 2014, Mary sold the farm where they had lived for 15 years and moved back to the Mountains where she is developing a large garden in an extended family home with her son Ethan, his partner Lynne and their three children. She now has eleven grandchildren.
A note from Mary: "I am thrilled at the prospect of returning to Mongolia after our tremendously successful journey there a few years ago. We all fell in love with the scenery and wildlife, and identified more than 160 species of alpine plants. We were welcomed by the nomadic people and learned a great deal about their history and way of life." Mary will also be joined by a senior botany lecturer from the Mongolian National University.