Ian Mudie grew up in Adelaide, and was educated there at Scotch College. From his early twenties, writing was his chief activity, but it was not until P. R. Stephensen (q.v.) included his work in the Publicist in October 1937 that his career began to flourish. In 1940 he published his first book of poems, Corroboree in the Sun, and followed that with regular publications during the next forty years.
As well as being a prolific poet, Mudie had a wide range of interests. After the war he took up a Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowship to research paddle-steamers on the Murray and Darling Rivers, and in 1961 he published Riverboats. Other books about riverboats followed. He also wrote Wreck of the Admella (1966), The Heroic Journey of John McDouall Stuart (1968), many newspaper articles and short stories, and productions such as Glenelg Sketchbook (1974). He edited several books, including Australian Poets Speak (1961), on which he collaborated with his friend Colin Thiele (q.v.).
He was a member of the Australia First movement, and was also associated with the Jindyworobaks. In 1946 he edited the Jindyworobak Anthology.
Mudie was also active in the Australian Society of Authors, national president from 1959 to 1960 of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, editor-in-chief from 1960 to 1965 of Rigby Ltd., and an organiser of Writers' Week at Adelaide Festival of the Arts from 1960 until 1972.
Much of his poetry reflects his passion for conservation, his compassion for Aboriginal peoples, his high regard for the pioneering days of Australia. Well-known for its embodiment of the traditional bush ethos, his poetry is also widely admired for its use of colloquial language. He won several prizes, including the Grace Leven Prize for The North Bound Rider (1963). His Selected Poems 1934-1974 (1976) was published in the year of his death. After his death his ashes were scattered on the Murray River.