Barbara graduated in 1945.
She developed a passion for contemporary music and writing during her high school years. As a teenager, she was the youngest member of Barjai, an avant-garde writers' group in Brisbane.
During the early 1950s, Barbara was diagnosed with optic atrophy, which caused her to rapidly lose her eyesight. In her later years she was a campaigner for talking books and libraries for the blind, a producer for the Radio for the Print Handicapped, and was involved in the National Federation of Blind Citizens.
At the same time, she was active in a number of cultural and educational organisations. She has published poems, essays and reviews in a wide range of newspapers and literary journals. In 2004, Barbara pledged $1 million to Australian music.
In 2012, Barbara was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her service to the arts and community, and advocating for people who are visually impaired.