Tim Bowden was born in Hobart, Tasmania, on August 2, 1937. He is married, with two children and three grandchildren. An author and broadcaster formerly of Sydney but now living on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Tim was host of the ABC-TV listener and viewer reaction program Backchat, from 1986-93.
Tim’s professional background has been in journalism and includes newspapers, and feature and documentary work in radio and television. In 1960 he graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He worked with the BBC’s General Overseas Service in London during 1960-62 as a radio interviewer and producer with the Pacific Service.
Returning to Australia in 1963 he joined the ABC in 1963 in Tasmania as a Talks Officer and worked in both radio and television. At that time the ABC was experimenting with an evening current affairs television format in Tasmania which became the model for This Day Tonight when it started in 1967.
Tim was posted to Singapore as foreign correspondent in 1965, and helped to cover the ‘confrontation’ between Malaysia and Indonesia, and the Indo China war. At this time he travelled widely in South-East Asia from 1965-67 including assignments in Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Transferred to New York by the ABC in mid 1967 he worked as correspondent there for 18 months before returning to Sydney to be the first executive producer of the radio current affairs program PM in 1969. In the early 1970s he worked as a producer with the television current affairs program This Day Tonight. In 1975 joined the ABC’S Radio Drama and Features Department and began making radio documentaries. From 1985 he set up Radio National’s radio Social History Unit and presented radio documentary and feature programs on Talking History and That’s History.
He is the author of fifteen books and many radio documentary programs based on oral history ranging from the experiences of Australians in Antartica, Papua New Guinea, Australian prisoners-of-war in Asia to the life and times of the Tasmanian Devil. His favourite pastime is driving and camping in Australia with his wife Ros, and Series 80 diesel Landcruiser, ‘Penelope’ – meaning, he says, he travels with two women!
For the last twenty years Tim Bowden has been actively broadcasting, writing and researching Australian activities in Antarctica. In 1993 he was commissioned by the Antarctic Division to write the official history of ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions) The Silence Calling – Australians in Antarctica 1947-97, published in June, 1997.
Bowden also wrote and presented six half-hour documentaries Breaking The Ice (on current ANARE operations) on ABC-TV in 1996, and wrote and narrated a second documentary The Silence Calling in 1997, as a companion to his written history. He has now visited Antarctica eight times – twice with ANARE and six times as a guest historian on tourist voyages to the Ross Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula.
But travel in outback Australia remains Tim’s preferred activity. There are four ‘Penelope’ books, detailing some of the Bowden travels. Penelope Goes West – On The Road From Sydney to Margaret River And Back, Penelope Bungles to Broome, The Devil In Tim – Penelope’s Travels in Tasmania, and Down Under In the Top End – Penelope Heads North. Some of hese titles are also available as audiobooks.
These and Tim’s other books, including One Crowded Hour – Neil Davis’ biography, Spooling Through, The Changi Camera, The Way My Father Tells It, Tim Bowden – Antarctica and Back in Sixty Days and others can be purchased through Tim’s website – timbowden.com.au
Tim Bowden received an Order of Australia for services to public broadcasting in June 1994. In May 1997 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Tasmania.