Nadia Wheatley

Honorary Associate


Phone: +61 2  9351

Fax: +61 2  9351

Building.Room: A35.

Professional biography

Nadia Wheatley graduated from Sydney University in 1970 with an Honours degree in History, and was awarded a Masters degree from Macquarie University in 1975. During a writing career spanning three decades, she has published award-winning books for children, young adults, and adults in a variety of genres.


While ten of her books for young readers have been honoured in the annual awards of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Nadia has recently been nominated by IBBY Australia for the prestigious 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing — the highest international recognition given to a living author whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature.


Her writing for adults includes her biography of the influential essayist, Charmian Clift. Described by critic Peter Craven as “one of the greatest Australian biographies”, The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift was the Age Non-Fiction Book of the Year (2001) and won the New South Wales Premier’s Award for Australian History (2002).


Nadia Wheatley’s books for children and young adults reflect her commitment to supporting cultural diversity, environmental understanding, and Reconciliation with the First People of the land. These publications include  Five Times Dizzy (sometimes described as the first multicultural children's book to be published in Australia) and the classic picture book My Place (illustrated by Donna Rawlins). Nadia was also history consultant and script consultant for the 26-part television adaptation of My Place, acknowledged as Most Outstanding Children’s Series in the 2012 Logie Awards.


Over the last decade, Nadia Wheatley has collaborated with artist Ken Searle to produce a set of ground-breaking non-fiction books that exemplify and celebrate Indigenous principles of education — a way of learning that puts the land at the centre of everything.  


This journey began during the period 1998 to 2001, when Nadia and Ken worked as consultants at the school at Papunya (an Aboriginal community in the Western Desert, Northern Territory). While assisting the Anangu staff and students to develop resources for the Indigenous curriculum that the school had developed, the two consultants helped produce the multi-award-winning Papunya School Book of Country and History — a collaborative account of the history of this internationally-famous Western Desert community.  


In 2005 Nadia used the Papunya Model of Education as her inspiration when she developed an innovative Harmony project with children from Muslim, Catholic and public schools in Sydney’s south-west. The resulting picture book, Going Bush, showcases the poetry and art of the students in the project alongside an environmental text by Nadia Wheatley and artwork by Ken Searle.


With PlaygroundStories from Country and from Inside the Heart (published in 2011) Nadia worked as the researcher and compiler of autobiographical stories by over a hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Produced in consultation with renowned Aboriginal historian Dr Jackie Huggins, and including new illustrations by Ken Searle, this anthology gives a fascinating insight into Indigenous childhood and learning, both traditional and contemporary.


Nadia Wheatley’s most recent book, Australians All, tells the history of what it was like to grow up on our continent from the Ice Age to the present day. Representing the author’s lifelong passion for history, Australians All helps us understand who we are, and how we belong to the land we all share. It also shows us who we might be.


  • Logie, Most Outstanding Children’s Television Series, My Place, 2012

  • Six-month residency at Rome Studio (B.R. Whiting Library) granted by Literature Board, Australia Council, 2002

  • Australian History Prize, New South Wales Premier's History Awards, The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift, 2002

  • The Age Book of the Year, Non Fiction, The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift, 2001

  • Awarded Four Year Senior Fellowship, Literature Board, Australia Council, 1996

  • CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, My Place, 1988

  • Inaugural Eve Pownall Award for Non-fiction, My Place, 1988

  • IBBY Australian Honour Book, My Place, 1988

  • KOALA Award, My Place, 1988

  • US Library Best Books for Young People, My Place, 1988

  • New South Wales Premier's Special Children's Book Award, Five Times Dizzy, 1983

Professional and community roles

  • Foundation Member New South Wales Premier’s Reading Challenge, 2002

  • Member Outback Advisory Committee, Wakakirri Outback Festival of Visual and Performing Arts, 2008-2012

  • Judge, New South Wales Premier's History Awards, 2006 and 1997

  • Patron of Jannawi (a specialist child protection agency based in south-west Sydney), 2012

  • Deputy Chair, Australian Society of Authors, 1992–1995

Current projects

  • Growing Up in Australia, due for publication by Allen & Unwin in 2013.

Selected publications


  • Wheatley, N. (2011). Playground [illus Ken Searle] . Allen & Unwin.
  • Wheatley, N. (2011). A Banner Bold . Scholastic Australia.
  • Wheatley, N. (2007). Listening to Mondrian. Allen & Unwin.
  • Wheatley, N. (2007). Going Bush [illus. Ken Searle] . Allen & Unwin.
  • Wheatley, N. (2002). The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift . HarperCollins.
  • Wheatley, N. (2001). Papunya School Book of Country and History [in collaboration with Papunya School] . Allen & Unwin.
  • Wheatley, N. (2001). Luke's Way of Looking, [illus. Matt Ottley] . Walker Books.
  • Wheatley, N. (2001). Vigil . Penguin.
  • Wheatley, N. (2001). The House That Was Eureka. Penguin.
  • Wheatley, N. (1999). Highway, [illus. Andrew McLean] . Omnibus.
  • Wheatley, N. (1997). Five Times Dizzy and Dancing in the Anzac Deli . Hachette.
  • Wheatley, N. (1995). The Night Tolkien Died . Random House.
  • Wheatley, N. (1994). Lucy in the Leap Year . Omnibus.
  • Wheatley, N. (1987). My Place [illus. Donna Rawlins]. Walker Books.