Josef Vondra was born in Vienna, Austria and came to Australia with his mother at the age of ten. After spending 14 months at a migrant camp, Vondra and his mother moved to Melbourne where he attended De La Salle College in Malvern. Always interested in writing fiction, Vondra had his first story published when he was 15 years old. After completing high school, he worked as a graduate cadet journalist with the then Sun News Pictorial. Later he worked in various positions in journalism; as a sub-editor with Radio Australia, as a freelance writer with Reader's Digest, a columnist for The Age Epicure and publisher of a Melbourne ethnic newspaper, German Times. For the past twenty years he has concentrated on small in-house publishing and currently publishes Australian Forest Grower.
Through his work as a language sub-editor on Radio Australia, Vondra became aware of Portuguese Timor - a colleague had been there during the war. Subsequently he applied for a visa and with a fellow Radio Australia journalist, they became the first newsmen for some time to be allowed full travelling rights in the territory. While he was there, Vondra documented his travels and in 1968 his first book Timor Journey was published as a travel book for young adults. He has since written a number of books including Hong Kong - City Without a Country, Taiwan - The Other China, Paul Zwilling, which led to a Senior Writers Fellowship with the Australia Council in 1974, A Guide to Cheese in Australia, German Speaking Settlers and Hellas Australia. His most recent book, No Name Bird (Puffin 2000) is set in Timor in 1975.