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Today's quote:

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Dave and I shared the same watering hole

Dave standing outside my favourite watering hole, the Blues Point Hotel


In the 1980s, businessman David Glasheen was riding high, with his publicly-listed company valued at $10 million. When the stock market crashed in 1987 he lost everything - prompting him to move to an isolated island off Cape York, Restoration Island.

He returned to Sydney for a short visit to help launch his book, "The Millionaire Castaway". Of course, I had bought it because I know (of) David Glasheen and because I had expected a little more from a chap who has spent over twenty years all by himself on a desert island. You know, insights into why we are here and what life it all about. Instead, as Somerset W. Maugham put it in his story, "German Harry", "If what they tell us in books were true his long communion with nature and the sea should have taught him many subtle secrets. It hadn't." In fairness to good ol' Dave, he may have done a better job and bared it all, had he written the book himself. Which he didn't; someone called Neil Bramwell wrote it for him, and in the retelling all that got lost.

Click here for a preview


As he himself says in the following video clip, "Once you have lived on an island, you do not want to live on the mainland. It's a whole different world. The isolation, peace, privacy, everything I need is around me in the water. I thought Sydney had disappeared at the airport - there was nobody there. Then the people came, then the waves come, the planes land and then the waves come. It's basically the same - just more conveyors, more roads, more concrete. It is still chaos but then again it's a big city, that's what you expect. I can't sleep without the sound of the ocean or natural noises. The stillness of the city is really weird. There is no noise other than cars and things, you know. Part of my life was here and I know this area so well and it is great to come back to see it as it was. Nothing's changed very much other than a few more buildings, a few more cranes in different places. I was the chairman of a public company. We had just floated. Started from a very tiny private syndicate to a public company, which is my first time ever. We were on a roll. The markets were hot. Everybody was positive. The value at one point was over $10 million. I had three properties. It was pretty exciting and then bang, the crash come. It was devastating really; then your life starts falling apart. You know, your marriage fails. All the things that go with the trappings of success, if you like. The family can't handle the pressure of it all. I survived physically but mentally it was hard, you know, and when all the fallout happens, you have to make decisions about what you're doing and the idea came out of nowhere. Not running away per se but living in an environment that hasn't got all the pressures of where I've come from and that's where I live. I've got enough water. It is like Jurassic Park. There as an incredible amount of wildlife and natural foods but I'm in control of my time which is a luxury. Most people don't have that. You don't need clothes. The temperature is amazing. I just run around in like a lap-lap sort of thing, basically and something on your head for the sun. My life is around the weather. The weather is really good, we want to play. The weather's not so good, we work. There's always work to do and it's all around beer. So if I don't do any work, no beer. If I do a dawn to dusk really hard, up to three beers. It was just so unreal when I think back on it, wearing suits, wearing clothes I didn't like, performing like a performing seal to get the money like a circus act essentially is what I did, and most people are doing it still. I just look around, I just see no colour, no laughter, no fun anymore. The people who live here, they seem to be like they are on a treadmill somehow. They're not happy. I don't see myself as crazy, other people do but I don't see myself as crazy. I'm just doing what I think is naturally right. I miss company, people or human company and that can be hard at times. We don't have issues, we don't have problems. It's character-building. So you just can't afford to look at the negative side because, the minute you do that, you are on the slide down, you are finished. You feel like you're in heaven. It is the nicest place I've ever been on and that's why I live there. I plan on being there for the rest of my life."

Watch Dave at 1:50, standing outside my favourite watering hole, the Blues point Hotel


On my trip up north to Thursday Island aboard the MV TRINITY BAY in April 2005 I passed Restoration Island, not close enough to wave to Dave but we exchanged email and phone calls for some time after. At the time I remembered that less than two months earlier, cyclone Ingrid had threatened to strike. Several communities along the coast and on nearby islands had been evacuated, but remaining behind was 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:

"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."


More recently, even a German film crew came to visit and report on him - in German, of course!


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 feel compelled to comfort him with a favourite short story of mine which goes something like this:

I hope David benefits from it, although, like Maugham writes about German Harry, he may end similarly: "I foresaw the end. One day a pearl fisher would land on the island and German Harry would not be waiting for him, silent and suspicious, at the water's edge. He would go up to the hut and there, lying on the bed, unrecognisable, he would see all that remained of what had once been a man."

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