Special Guest Speaker

Dr. Gregory P. Smith

Session type: Special guest speaker


Gregory will talk about his life and growing up amidst domestic violence and trauma, the effects on himself as a young person, the importance of time and the construction of a link to the natural world, and the benefits of that – the power of knowledge.

His profoundly touching and uplifting trauma to triumph story is a unique insight into how far off track a life can go, and a powerful reminder that we can all find our way back if we pause for a moment in the heart of the forest.

You can find out more: www.drgregorysmith.com.au

You can see Gregory’s story on Australian Story, synopsis below.

From a homeless alcoholic living in the wild to academic success and a book deal, Out of the Woods tells the inspiring comeback story of forest-dweller Gregory Smith.

When he left school at 14, dogged by the crushing assessment that he was “functioning at the lower level of the dull range”, Gregory Smith had already endured a violent upbringing and months in an orphanage after the break-up of his family.

At 35, struggling with a lifetime of trauma, he opted to escape into the wild with no desire to return to the society that had failed him so dismally.

Exhausted by years of living off the land and sleeping rough, Gregory emerged from the forest ready to change his life, and gained an undergraduate degree and then a PhD at Southern Cross University.

His story offers hope for the most damaged amongst us. “Gregory represents the capacity for transformation against all odds and a real triumph over adversity,” says one of his students, Kerry Pritchard. “How to take the crap in life and grow beautiful things out of it.”

About the presenter/s

Dr Gregory P. Smith is a Forgotten Australian born in Tamworth, NSW in 1955. He and four of his siblings were surrendered to an orphanage in 1966. He was considered a problem child (‘uncontrollable’), diagnosed as a ‘sociopath’ with mid-range intelligence, and was in and out of institutions until 1974. Following his release from ‘care’ Gregory searched in vain for the skills to live a fruitful and rewarding life but became increasingly disillusioned with society and lived on the fringe as a recluse in a Northern NSW rainforest where he spent his time reflecting and reading important authors such as Douglas Adams. In 2000, through catharsis and serendipity, Gregory decided to give society one more chance, walked out of the forest and began to explore life from a different perspective. His life was transformed. In 2007 he completed a degree in Social Science, obtaining an honours (1st Class). Gregory completed his PhD in 2015.