Herb Wharton is an internationally acclaimed Aboriginal author, poet, oral historian, novelist, short story writer and storyteller who left school at the age of 12 and began droving. He has possibly seen more of outback Australia from horseback than most of European explorers combined.Herb has experienced more than 40 years of living a bushman’s life; a drover, stockman, rodeo rider and all-round bush worker. He was awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal 2003 for service to Australian society and literature.
Herb was born in Cunnamulla in western Queensland in 1936. His maternal grandmother was of the Kooma people; his grandfathers were Irish and English. Uncle Herb is now an Elder of the Kooma people, a trustee of Eulo Aboriginal Reserve, a former member of the board of directors of Cunnamulla Aboriginal Housing Co-op and a life member of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
‘Uncle Herb’ is one of Australia’s most-travelled writers, both locally and internationally, and is an ambassador for not only Aboriginal people and their literature, but also mainstream Australia, in regards to cultural tourism.
His first book, Unbranded, was published in l992 and told of his experiences of people and events from his long years on the stock routes of inland Australia. His second book, Cattle Camp (a collection of droving stories as told by Murri stockmen and women) was published in l994. Where Ya’ Been, Mate?, a collection of his stories, followed in l996. Herb has travelled throughout Australia, and to Europe and Japan. In l998 he was selected for a residency at the Australia Council studio in Paris where he completed the manuscript of Yumba Days, his first book for young readers, published in l999. An excerpt from Unbranded was included in the first UQP Black Australian Writing anthology, Fresh Cuttings, in 2003.
His poetry books include Kings With Empty Pockets (2003) and Imba (Listen): Tell You a Story (2003).