McCauley was born in Surrey, England, but lived mostly in Western Australia from the age of five. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Western Australia in 1977 and an MA from the University of Sydney in 1983. Since then McCauley has lectured in English for Midland TAFE and Edith Cowan University. In 1978 his play 'The All-Nite Cafe' was produced in Perth. In 1993 he was the recipient of a Senior Writers' Fellowship from the Australia Council. McCauley was a founding member of the performance group Poetry in Motion.