Born in Perth in 1934, Ian Parkes left home at sixteen to work as a jackeroo on a merino stud in South Australia. He spent a year on a remote property near Broken Hill, before returning to Western Australia, where he worked on various sheep stations inland from Carnarvon and Meekatharra.
At the age of twenty-one, after illness threatened his life, Ian reflected on where his real interests lay and, much as he loved the outback, he decided he wanted to write. He worked as a copywriter at 6IX in Perth and wrote radio talks for the ABC in his spare time. Soon he started his own advertising agency, which in time became Parkes Clemenger.