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Joe Tramacchi was born in Gympie, Queensland. He was named after his mother's favourite uncle and grandfathers who came to Australia from Italy, in 1882 to work as charcoal burners and gold miners. Joe is the eldest of six children. After finishing his teacher training, he travelled to the Kimberley region of Western Australia to teach at Jitapurru School, Wangkatjungka Community and later, Kulkarriya School, Noonkanbah Community.
Joe is a co-author and non-Indigenous collaborator on Tjarany Roughtail.