Eric Willmot is a leading Aboriginal scholar, engineer, administrator and author. During his primary school years he moved from school to school in Queensland and the Northern Territory. After leaving primary school he began working as a drover and horse breaker and returned to complete his education after a rodeo accident at eighteen which left him unable to work in that field. Willmot graduated from the University of Newcastle in 1968 with a science degree and worked as a maths teacher before gaining a Master's degree in educational planning. He has also worked as a public servant at state and federal level. During his academic career Willmot published in the areas of education and anthropology and gained awards for his inventions.
Willmot's appointments at tertiary institutions include lecturer in the School of Education at the Cancerra College of Advanced Education; director of research for a project on indigenous teacher training at the Australian National University; principal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra; professor in the School of Education, James Cook University, Townsville.