After McKie had graduated from the University of Queensland, he worked as a journalist on various newspapers in Australia (e.g. Melbourne Herald, SMH and Daily Telegraph), Singapore and China. He served with the AIF for a time in the Second World War before becoming a war correspondent in Burma and Italy; he later reported the Potsdam Conference in Berlin and the Quisling trial in Norway. After the war he returned to the Daily Telegraph. As a journalist-writer he published prolifically, e.g. documentary works such as This Was Singapore (1942, written after the Japanese capture of the city), Malaysia in Focus (1963), The Company of Animals (1965), Bali (1969) and Singapore (1972). His war writings include Proud Echo (1953), the story of the exploits of HMAS Perth; The Heroes (1960), the story of the little-known Rimau party, a group of twenty Australian and British servicemen who were beheaded by the Japanese for their raid on Japanese shipping in Singapore harbour; and Echoes from Forgotten Wars (1980). His novels include The Mango Tree (1974, an account of his boyhood in Bundaberg, Queensland, which won both the Miles Franklin and the Barbara Ramsden Awards), The Crushing (1977) and Bitter Bread (1978, which recalled the Depression days in Melbourne). We Have No Dreaming (1988) is McKie's own story of his life which includes some of his experiences as a war correspondent.