Bradley Trevor Greive: Adventure beast with a gentle soul

By Benjamin Kanthak 29 October 2021
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This Tassie-born, mega-selling author, simply known as BTG, lives life to the fullest, often paying for it with broken bones and funny stories. Both are the grist in his new animated series, Adventure Beast.

While most people dread even the shortest stint in hospital, author and daredevil Bradley Trevor Greive (aka BTG) says he uses the time to catch up on things while getting his bones fixed.

“Twenty-one major surgeries and seven treatments for rabies gave me enough time to read many of the big doorstop novels [by the likes of Tolkien, Tolstoy and Herman Melville],” he says with a laugh.

BTG spent most of his adult life as a paratroop commander in the Royal Australian Army, but was forced to retire due to an illness. An admirer of the works of Gerald Durrell [British naturalist, writer, zookeeper, conservationist and television presenter], he decided to turn his hand to writing, approaching it with the same resilience the army demanded of him. After being rejected by many major publishers, Random House finally gave him a chance and in 1999 published his breakout title The Blue Day Book, a humorous gift-book that has sold more than 10 million copies. After its release, the book quickly turned into a global phenomenon and at times was only outsold by JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. He received numerous awards and his most recent bestseller, Penguin Bloom, was turned into a major film starring Australian actress Naomi Watts.

Despite his success in the publishing world, BTG’s relentless inner drive pushes him to search for new adventures and challenges. In 2004 he graduated from the Russian Space Program as a cosmonaut and two years later he became a national rock-lifting champion in French Polynesia. Yes, you read that right!

BTG is the first to admit that his lifetime of experiences has created many memorable moments, but perhaps it’s his friendship origin story with legendary comedian John Cleese that has to be one of his funniest – a scene straight out of a Monty Python film some might even say! Listen to BTG recount this story on the Australian Geographic podcast, Talking Australia, here.

BTG in the wild. Image: Bradley Trevor Greive

After finding the love of his life he left his beloved Tasmania, or “breath of Christ” as he calls it, to move to Los Angeles. “I don’t live in LA,” he says, because in his heart he never left Tasmania. He clarifies that he simply lives with his wife who lives in LA. Greive laughs and continues: “When I’d come back from Tasmania to Los Angeles, I’d get an eye infection every single time from the pollution. I was kind of sad the first year I didn’t get one because it meant I’d acclimatised.”

Being close to Hollywood on the other hand opened many doors for him. He has lent his voice to PIXAR’s Finding Nemo franchise, shot nature documentaries, and became a talkshow wildlife expert. “America has been good to me,” he admits.

Despite all this success, BTG knew his life was missing something, in his words: “A connection to the natural world.” He ended up finding this, his “happy place”, in Alaska, where he spends a lot of time photographing and studying giant Alaskan coastal brown bears. He worked and befriended local Indigenous hunters and managed to provide evidence (that’s currently being evaluated) to identify a new sub-species of brown bear. After many years of visiting, BTG was formally adopted by the Deisheetaan clan of the Native American Tlingit People of Alaska. “It was one of my proudest moments,” he says.

Since then, and perhaps inspired largely by it, BTG is set to release his new adult animated series, Adventure Beast.

The show offers a funny alternative to the lavishly beautiful wildlife productions that so many of us hold dear. It was inspired by Durrell’s adventure books and tries to capture a spirit of adventure and discovery while also being incredibly funny. According to BTG, “animation has the huge advantage of “cheating” – showing amazing phenomena that are almost impossible to capture on film unless you spend millions of dollars and take an incredible amount of time to have cameras in the right place at the right time”.

“It’s a show that’ll make you laugh, that will surprise you and also excite you about what is out there!”

You can watch the trailer here.