Christine Garnaut (nee Smerdon) was born and educated in Adelaide, South Australia. She gained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in 1975 and a Diploma of Education in 1976 at Flinders University and subsequently taught with the Education Department of South Australia at Whyalla High School and Christies Beach High School. Christine specialised in architectural history in her Arts degree and later took up postgraduate study in architectural and town planning history. She was awarded a PhD in 1997 from the University of South Australia for her thesis on the South Australian garden suburb of Colonel Light Gardens and its designer, town planner Charles Reade. In September 1997 she joined the Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design (incorporated in the School of Art, Architecture and Design in 2008) at the University of South Australia and became Director of the Architecture Museum in 2002. She has published widely on South Australian planning history and related subjects.