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Sunday, August 26, 2012

David Glasheen on Restoration Island

The first time I heard about David Glasheen on tiny Restoration Island was when I passed the island aboard the cargo vessel "TRINITY BAY" enroute to Thursday Island in 2005. I wrote about it in my travel diary:


Tuesday, 3 May 2005

As we passed along the coastline of mainland Australia, I remembered that less than two months earlier, cyclone Ingrid had threatened to strike.

Remaining behind had been a bare-chested old hermit with a long grey beard, David Glasheen (although his name could be Robinson Crusoe for all we know), of Restoration Island, looking as if he had been marooned since Captain William Bligh beached his boat here after the 1789 HMS Bounty mutiny. (Captain Bligh named it Restoration Island, because the day he and his men rested there was the anniversary of the restoration of Charles II to the throne and perhaps because the stay on the island did restore them but the locals call it "Resto").

It is said that this nouveau beachcomber from Sydney has plans to develop Restoration Island as an eco-resort. He's been living alone on Bligh's island for years ever since his long-suffering Woman Friday had escaped on a passing boat. But David is looking for another Girl Friday. His quest took him as far as the "TODAY SHOW" on Channel 9 and even the Sunday Telegraph published this article:

View from Restoration Island to mainland

"He may look like Robinson Crusoe but, after 12 years of living alone on a tropical island, David Glasheen now wants to play Romeo. The former Sydney high-flyer who left the rat race and bought himself a tropical island near Australia's Top End is looking for a "Girl Friday".
He is now advertising online for love, offering the ultimate sea change for the right woman who doesn't like shopping or neighbours.
Mr Glasheen and his dog Quasi are the only residents on tiny Restoration Island, off Cape York. While he has the occasional visit from tourists or passing yacht, he admits it gets a little lonely in paradise.
"There has to be someone out there for me," Mr Glasheen told The Sunday Telegraph.
"I've got an eye for the ladies, so I guess I would do anything to meet the right partner."

The divorced father of three is hoping he will meet the "mermaid" of his dreams using the Internet dating site RSVP.

His advertisement reads like the perfect scenario for a Mills and Boon novel, but so far he has received only a few responses.
"The beautiful coral island I live on is a castaway's dream," he writes.
"A tiny green oasis floating in the desert of the sea, surrounded by the corals of the Great Barrier Reef."

Mr Glasheen, 65, a former businessman, traded in his suit for a lap-lap almost two decades ago after losing $10 million in the stock market crash of 1987. His first marriage, from which he has two daughters, ended around the same time. The one-time company executive says losing almost his entire fortune was one of the best things that ever happened in his life. "I just realised it all didn't mean anything," he said.

He paid seven figures for a 50-year lease on one-third of Restoration Island - the remaining land is a national park. Mr Glasheen moved there in 1993 with his girlfriend, but with no hot water or even a bath, she found it tough and left with their young son. He has added a few mod cons to his island hideaway but says it is still pretty basic. Its simplicity and remoteness has attracted the likes of Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer, who stopped off there on their honeymoon. "But we have style in the wild here. We don't live like yahoos or hillbillies - we have plenty of champagne when we need it," Mr Glasheen said. Restoration Island, 2000km north of Brisbane, was named by Captain William Bligh. It was there his supporters "restored" their spirits following the infamous mutiny on the Bounty.

Mr Glasheen said he was looking for a warm-hearted woman who could put up with the peculiarities of life on a remote island and would be willing to travel to the mainland for a dinner date or two."

Restoration Island as seen from Portland Roads - click for location map

Well, David, I hope you won't get killed in the crush! If you do find your Miss Right, make sure her first name isn't 'Always'! Wouldn't it have been better to whittle down the candidature to deaf-and-dumb lobotomised nymphomaniac cooks with poor vision and a Florence-Nightingale complex? Anyway, in this his hour of greatest personal need(s), I felt compelled to comfort him with a favourite short story of mine which goes something like this:

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl
'Will you marry me?' The girl said, 'NO!'
And the guy lived happily ever after
and rode motorcycles and went fishing
and hunting and played golf a lot
and drank beer and scotch
and left the toilet seat up
and farted whenever he wanted.

I hope David benefits from it!

According to Alan Lucas' "Cruising the Coral Coast", the island was for sale in 1978-79 for around $120,000; that is, the lease and all improvements were for sale because the island itself is not freehold. As a postscript, my friend Fritz in Cairns tells me that the island is again up for sale. Has David Glasheen thrown in his beach towel?

[ Yes, the island is for sale at $3 million by Dave's business partner in Melbourne but Dave himself does not want to sell as he explained in a phone call to me. If anybody wants to contact him or spend some time on his island, please email me on riverbendnelligen[AT]mail.com ]

Read my full travel log [here]


Over the years, I had several telephone conversations with David and also put him in contact with people who had read my blog and wanted to write a story about him.

I have just read an article on the web which appeared in the Daily Mail which suggests that David's days on Restoration Island may be numbered as the Queensland government is trying to evict him.

Here's a recent video clip of Restoration Island:

Have you got a Plan B, David? Have you considered Tonga?

[Here] is David's own blog.