In 1984 Tim moved to North Queensland, teaching at the remote Indigenous community, Kowanyama and high schools at Weipa and Woree. His first post-graduate research project was an M.A. (Qualifying) thesis Djarrugan – The Last of the Nesting, A Revisionist Interpretation of Aboriginal-European Relations in the Cairns Rainforest Region up to 1876. As a result of this work, Tim was invited by local Aboriginal groups to assist in research and community development. He then lectured on communication skills for the TAFE Ranger Training Program throughout Cape York before being appointed Ranger Trainer Co-ordinator for the Wet Tropics Ranger Group.
His depth of experience with Indigenous issues during this period enabled Tim to research and write several papers for publication in particular, the Oral History Program run by the Djabugay Rangers. This formed the basis for the future work, Djabugay Country – An Aboriginal History of Tropical North Queensland, Allen & Unwin, 1999.