Josef Vondra was born of Czech and Hungarian parentage. He matriculated from De La Salle College, Victoria, in 1959 and undertook three years' part-time study in English and German at The University of Melbourne. He first worked as a public servant and then took up a career as a journalist, becoming a cadet with the Sun-News Pictorial, Melbourne, in 1960, a sub-editor for the ABC's Radio Australia in 1965 and a freelance journalist and writer from 1968 onwards. He has published books on Timor, China and Hong Kong (Lansdowne Press). In 1974 he received a Commonwealth Literary Grant to write a second novel.
Vondra has worked as the publisher of Australian Forest Grower. In addition to the works listed here, he has also written A Guide to Cheese in Australia.