Gray grew up in Coffs Harbour and was educated in a country town on the north coast of New South Wales. He trained there as a journalist, and since then has worked in Sydney as an editor, advertising copywriter, reviewer and buyer for bookshops. His first book of poems, Creekwater Journal, was published in 1973.
Gray has been a writer-in-residence at Meiji University in Tokyo and at several universities throughout Australia including Geelong College in 1982. He has won the Adelaide Arts Festival and the New South Wales and Victorian Premiers' Awards for poetry. In 1990 he received the Patrick White Award. With Geoffrey Lehmann, he edited two anthologies, The Younger Australian Poets and Australian Poetry in the Twentieth Century, and he is the editor of Selected Poems by Shaw Neilson, and Drawn from Life, the journals of the painter John Olsen. After Images is his latest collection of poetry.
2008 sees the much anticipated publication of his memoir, The Land I Came Through Last.