Ian McFarlane worked as a cipher clerk in the Defence Signals Division and in Australia's Diplomatic Service, with postings to Tel Aviv, Hong Kong and Canberra, before taking up writing full time. The Siberian Sparrows (1990) and Shadows (!992) won the Weekend Australian best-read awards in successive years.
McFarlane is a novelist, poet, essayist, and literary critic for the Canberra Times has also written Four Winds : the first ten years (2000?), a very brief history of the Four Winds Music Festival held near Bermagui. In March 2002 he became the Contributing Editor of Voice, an independent quarterly of comment and review. Ian McFarlane has suffered from unipolar clinical depression for most of his life, and his book, Evening at Murunna Point, published by Ginninderra Press in 2001 is a collection of stories, essays and poems that looks at literature and depression.
In 2009 Ian McFarlane won the ACT Writers Centre's Z4 Wines Award for Book Reviewing for his review of British author Kate Atkinson's novel, When Will There Be Good News?
Of Cheese and Chutney : Selected Essays2009selected work essay 'Essays, selected from Voice magazine, on a diverse range of issues, from the human rights of refugees, Indigenous reconciliation and the environment, to global conflict and economic rationalism...' (Publisher's website)