Barbara Hanrahan was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1939. After her father's death at the age of 26 from Tuberculosis in 1940, when Hanrahan was just a year old, Hanrahan lived with her mother, a commercial artist, grandmother and great-aunt, who had Downs' Syndrome, in Adelaide's inner-western suburb of Thebarton - an area that was to have significance for Hanrahan in her life and works.
Hanrahan attended Thebarton Primary School and Thebarton Technical School. Between 1957 and 1960, she studied towards a diploma in art teaching from Adelaide Teachers' College, while also taking classes at the South Australian School of Arts. In 1960, Hanrahan began printmaking, and worked with Udo Sellbach. In 1961, Hanrahan won the Cornell Prize for painting. In 1962, she served as president of the South Australian Graphic Art Society. In 1963, at the age of 24, she left Adelaide to study at the Royal College of Art in London. She lived mostly in England until the early 1980s, with her partner sculptor Jo Steele and lectured for a time at the Falmouth in Cornwall and Portsmouth College of Art. During this time she returned periodically to Adelaide to teach at the South Australian School of Art and to organise her one-woman exhibitions, and she eventually returned there to live permanently. Her first exhibition was at the Contemporary Art Society Gallery in Adelaide in December 1964.
The Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship for South Australian writers was established in Hanrahan's memory by her partner Jo Steele. A street in Thebarton is named after her, and in 1997 a building at the University of South Australia's City West campus was named to honour her memory.The Scent of Eucalyptus depicts Hanrahan's childhood in the 1940s and 1950s in the inner-western Adelaide suburb of Thebarton.Wikipedia