An Australian man born into a wealthy Irish family originally from Co. Cork has spent the past two decades as a real-life castaway after losing millions in the stock exchange crash of 1987.
Now 73 years old, former millionaire David Glasheen moved to Restoration Island, located off North East Australia, in 1997, hoping to escape from the world that had left him clinically depressed and struggling to recover from a failed marriage and the loss of his fortune.
The original plan was that he would move to the island with his then-partner, but at the last minute she decided remote island life was not for her. Glasheen has, therefore, spent the past 20 years accompanied only by his loyal dog, Quassi, and the increasingly infrequently visiting backpackers and travelers.
“I want to die here – where else would I? This is my heaven on earth,” he told the New York Post.
“When I came here I was sick of money – money is what makes people sick – and my marriage had broken apart.”
He has a limited electricity supply provided by solar panels and a back-up generator and a poor supply of fresh drinking water which means life is hard for the island castaway, who visits the mainland once a year to complete for his annual grocery shopping. He picks up the essentials such as rice and gummy bears.
Glasheen lives in a wooden shack constructed before World War II. His life on Restoration Island is a far cry from the millionaire lifestyle he enjoyed when he was young and a gold-mining tycoon and real-estate magnate. He’s swapped the the stress and risks of business for genuine risks to his life – the wildlife on the island is always a threat. Glasheen still considers himself to be relatively safe, however, compared with those who are in the line of fire of terrorist attacks.
“The elements and wildlife are dangerous – if you do get into trouble here, you are pretty much dead. The saltwater crocodiles are beautiful animals – they are dangerous but I love them.
“Here there are snakes, spiders and crocodiles but it is safer here than lots of other parts of the world when you hear about terrorist attacks,” he said. “I love it here because I have my safety, no matter how old and how tough you are you still want to go to bed knowing you are not going to be attacked.”
Australian millionaire turned castaway David Glasheen celebrates 20-years on desert island https://t.co/Jhp8DsH0wn— The Daily Telegraph (@dailytelegraph) June 18, 2017
And how is he aware of such a threat of terrorism, you ask? Well, the 100-acre Restoration Island may be located almost 621 miles from Cairns, the nearest city, but it seems there is nowhere is safe from the internet these days. The real-life Robinson Crusoe uses his limited connection to keep up with the news, to check up on social media, catch up on his guilty pleasure “Britain's Got Talent” and to search dating sites for somebody who may be happy to join him in his solitude on the island.
“But being on your own you do miss intelligent conversation and the physical contact of other people,” he states of his experience.
“I would love to find a partner who wants to live with me here, or a couple of ladies who want to come and visit a couple of times a year.”
Glasheen is believed to have had a net worth of nearly $27 million at the height of his success in the gold-mining industry in Papua, New Guinea. He lost an estimated $6 million in the 12 months after the October 1987 global financial crash.
His wife left him soon thereafter and it was his next partner who eventually suggested the idea of living on an island to escape the stress of capitalism and money. He first visited the island in 1993 and Glasheen relocated permanently in 1997 when he signed a 50-year-lease, which committed him to building a health center.
His first suggestion was the development of a hotel on the island but this was dismissed in favor of a plan to develop a small, eco-friendly not-for-profit health retreat instead. The almost completely self-reliant adventurer may run the risk of eviction soon, however, as he has failed, as of yet, to begin the development.
“I used to get backpackers coming more regularly but that has dropped off now,” he said.
“I have a lot of respect for the land – I am glad we never decided to develop the island because we would have destroyed it.
“I miss theater and live music – the sound of a real band. And just the social interaction of things like dinner parties with men and women together.
“But my recollection of a lot of that is there was a lot of anger and bitterness there, I was not the only person to experience a marital breakdown.
“People want to check Facebook 10 times a day now but I am too busy – a lot of people would struggle here not being able to do those things.
“It is a different world now but it is still a great world.”
Living mostly off the land, growing his own fruit and vegetables and catching fish, crabs and shrimp, Glasheen has had one close call with nature. He was bitten by a poisonous whitetail spider and had had to be airlifted to the hospital. Despite that, he has remained in remarkable shape, although he does suffer from a bit of loneliness.
Would you ever consider the idea of living the rest of your days as a castaway or are you too reliant on modern conveniences. Let us know in the comments section, below.
H/T: New York Post