Jack Hibberd was born near Bendigo, Victoria, and studied Medicine at the University of Melbourne. While practising as a doctor, Hibberd wrote poetry and plays, and White With Wire Wheels was produced at the University of Melbourne in 1967. Soon after this success, Hibberd was a founding member of the La Mama Company, which became the Australian Performing Group and performed many of his early plays. In 1972, A Stretch of the Imagination was produced. It is now widely regarded as Hibberd's most important play.
In 1973, he began writing full-time. That year the production of Dimboola, directed by David Williamson, was a popular success and was adapted to film in 1979. But, in 1986, Hibberd abandoned the theatre and returned to medicine. During the following years he wrote several novels until his return to the theatre in 1993.
Hibberd is admired for his use of Australian dialect and his exploration of social rituals. His explorations of the "ocker" mentality were the first of their kind, initiating a new approach to Australian drama. Hibberd has acknowledged the influence of European playwrights such as Brecht, Beckett and Pinter, but he has successfully adapted these influences for the Australian stage. His aversion to naturalistic productions is seen in the plays that demand audience participation and highlight the ritualistic element of the theatre. The most obvious examples are the "party" plays, Dimboola and Liquid Amber.
Since his return to the theatre in 1993, Hibberd has written verse and numerous plays, and has become a noted arts journalist. He has contributed to The Australian, Meanjin, Southerly, Island Magazine, The Bulletin and Westerly. He has translated some of Baudelaire's work, in Le vin des amants: Poems from Baudelaire (1977).
Hibberd's novels and plays explore complementary themes and issues. Some of the topics examined in his work include masculinity in Australia and Australian identity more generally, the possibilities of language, and his varied responses to the city of Melbourne.
Musical elements are highly significant in many of his plays, and Hibberd has described his diverse theatrical approach as one which mixes "celebration with satire, fun with gravity, fiction with information, ignorance with politics, slang with poetry".