She worked as an editor for travel guides company Lonely Planet, and while on a sabbatical in 1999, wrote and published her first novel, The Rose Grower. Her second novel, published in 2003, The Hamilton Case was winner of the Tasmania Pacific Prize, the Encore Award (UK) and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Southeast Asia and Pacific). Her third novel, The Lost Dog, was published in 2007. It was one of 13 books on the long list for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for fiction. From 1989 to 1992 she was a founding editor of the Australian Women's Book Review. Her fourth novel, Questions of Travel, won several awards, including the 2013 Miles Franklin Award, the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal (ALS Gold Medal), and the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Awards for fiction. It was also shortlisted for the 2014 Dublin Impac Literary Award.