Pascoe was born in Richmond, a working-class suburb of Melbourne. As a younger man, he built farm fences, dove for abalone, worked as a bartender and rural schoolteacher. He crewed on a salmon fishing boat in Alaska and was a dog wrangler for a veterinary clinic in the Northern Territory. Now he is a professor in the educational support program for aboriginal students at the University of Technology Sydney. His 30-some books include novels, historical fiction, children's stories, and a work on aboriginal language. Dark Emu, one of Pascoe's most recent, refutes the widely accepted idea that precolonial inhabitants were primitive hunter-gatherers wandering the continent in search of sustenance. Rather than being haphazard foragers of witchetty grubs and such, aboriginal people, Pascoe argues, formed a highly sophisticated agricultural society with an ingrained, near-spiritual stewardship of the land. After the publication of Dark Emu, Pascoe took on yet another mission: building awareness of lost foodways through the rediscovery of native ingredients and an appreciation of the continent's first caretakers. "Our whole culture is about sharing," he said. "I know how important it's going to be for the country and for aboriginal people to be involved in the resurgence of old crops, but you can't eat our food if you can't swallow our history."