Herb Wharton, born in 1936 in Cunnamulla, Queensland, began his working life as a drover while in his teens. His maternal grandmother was of the Kooma people; his grandfathers were Irish and English. In 1992 with the publication of his first book Unbranded, he committed to novel form his experiences of people and events from his long years on the stock routes of inland Australia. His next 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 1996. He has travelled throughout Australia, and to Europe and Japan.
In 1998 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 1999. An excerpt from Unbranded is included in the first UQP Black Australian Writing anthology, Fresh Cuttings, which will be released in October 2003.
Herb Wharton was awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal 2003 for service to Australian society and literature, the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature in 2012, and the Queensland Greats Award in 2013.
In the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours Uncle Herb was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for 'significant service to the literary arts, to poetry, and to the Indigenous community.'