GREGORY Smith had a childhood filled with violence, abuse and confusion.
His father was a violent alcoholic and his mother was hardly the maternal type.
As children, Smith and his four sisters were taken to an orphanage in Armidale, NSW where they remained for the next two years until reclaimed by their parents.
While there, Smith was the victim of physical, psychological and sexual abuse.
On his return to Tamworth, he had problems fitting in at school and when he turned 15, he was sent to a juvenile detention centre.
He spent years wandering the east coast of Australia, fluctuated between employment and homelessness.
He married twice and had a daughter but it wasn’t enough to pull him out of his drug addiction, alcoholism and battle with mental health.
In about 1990 Smith decided to give it all up and retreated into the forest just north of Byron Bay, living in the wilderness and foraging for food.
When he emerged 10 years later, emaciated and close to death, he decided it was time to turn his life around.
He worked to get a university admission and earned a PhD in sociology and now he teaches at Southern Cross University.
His uplifting memoir Out of the Forest is a powerful reminder that we can all find our way back.
Smith will be at Woodvale Library from 2pm on May 31 thanks to Dymocks Joondalup and the City of Joondalup.
The presentation will run for about one hour, followed by refreshments
Copies of his book will be available to buy and have signed. Cost is $4.
Book at www.joondalup.wa.gov.au or call 9400 4751.