David Glasheen: the voluntary Robinson Crusoe of Australia
April 14, 2013 8:38 PM   Subscribe

David Glasheen was a wealthy executive in the 1980's, but he lost about $10 million in the 1987 market crash. That was his family's fortune, which lead to their house was repossessed by the bank, then his marriage of 22-years ended. Glasheen found his way to the semi-remote Restoration Island, where Captain William Bligh landed after the mutiny on the Bounty. Once Glasheen settled down, it was his plan was to live as a custodian of the island, until he died. Unfortunately, the beer-brewing hermit who hopes for love might be forced to leave, due to the fact that he hasn't been able to get an eco resort built on the property.

David Glasheen moved out to the island, located less than half a mile from the north-east coast of Australia, in April of 1997. He is subleasing the land from Restoration Island Pty Ltd, which holds a 50-year lease on one third of the island that is valid until 2039. He and two partners had agreed to build an eco-resort within 5 years, but there were conflicts with the Kuuku Ya'u people of Lockhart, who have property rights apply to the remaining two-thirds of the island. About a decade later, Glasheen was on good terms with the Kuuku Ya'u people, but there was still no eco-resort. He is now leasing just 30 acres, which he has turned into a farm.

Glasheen first moved to the island with his girlfriend at that time, but according to him, she left because she wanted more civilization that the island could offer. After living on the island for twelve years, Glasheen went searching for a new lady friend to join him. He had no luck finding his "mermaid." Until he finds that special someone, there are the random visitors and lost folk who stumble across his island, and he has his faithful companion, Quasi, the pitbull/Rhodesian ridgeback/mutt mix.

The portion of the island where David lives has been put up for sale a number of times over the years, and was listed for $3 million in 2005, and there have been interested buyers, but there's still the issue of David. A civil suit was filed by the owners of the lease against David, citing his lack of improvements to the island. But according to the interview in this Sydney Morning Herald article, that effort was done to ensure the current lease owners could evict David at any moment, should another buyer be interested in the property. Colin Lindsay, the director of Restoration Island Pty Ltd, said: "I don't have any animosity towards Dave. The island is for sale, but I am not in a hurry. He can stay there on a month-by-month basis."

You can visit Restoration Island, or Resto, as the locals call it. The two-thirds to that the Kuuku Ya'u people hold property rights is part of Ma’alpiku National Park, which is open to the public but lacks any roads. If David Glasheen is still there, he sounds like a welcoming fellow, as he's had Wwoofers visit as part of the Willing Workers on Organic Farms program, though it seems his farm isn't listed on the Australian site any more. Russell Crowe and then-wife Danielle Spencer also visited, when the couple were on their honeymoon in 2003. One thing to note, as Russell and Danielle found out: David isn't too up-to-date with current events and popular culture at large. Most of his references are frozen in the early 1990's.

Bonus bits: My Modern Met has a collection of photos of David Glasheen, taken by Brian Cassey, who also put together a 2:21 long video with short clips from a visit to David and Resto. There's also the dormant Restoration Island blog,
posted by filthy light thief (3 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The last sentence should continue "which hasn't been updated since 2011, and only has 6 blog posts, but what can you expect from a guy who can only operate electrical items when the sun is up?"

In looking for more information on Colin Lindsay, the director of Restoration Island Pty Ltd, I found this article from April 2006, when Cyclone Monica hit Australia. The article quotes a Colin Lindsay, as one of the "people on the luxury resort of Restoration Island," and he was talking about a wind generator, buildings being damaged, and one boat being run aground. But from everything else I've read, it doesn't sound like there's much on the ground beyond what Glasheen has put up, and that's pretty meager.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:47 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I heard about him recently on io9.
As a would-be hermit I love this post.
posted by Mezentian at 7:47 AM on April 15, 2013

I read that same article/ list of modern day hermits, and was thinking of expanding their list, but I started reading about David, and realized that the little blurb on io9 was a woefully inadequate summation of the man's ~20 years on the island.

Also, he's not really a hermit. From what I've read, he wants a simpler life, but not one devoid of people. He's happy to live off of what he can catch in the ocean and grow on his farm, but he talks a lot to anyone who will listen, unlike Willard Kitchener MacDonald, the hermit of Gully Lake, but even MacDonald had plenty of visitors and apparently every weekend someone would trek out to meet this man of the woods. Even Masafumi Nagasaki, who lives on Sotobanari Island, Japan, where there is no drinkable water travels every week to a settlement an hour away by boat, where he buys food and drinking water.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2013

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