The sole inhabitant of Australia’s Restoration Island has lived there in peaceful solitude for almost 20 years, but this island hermit may have to find a new home.
When it comes to some private islands, the phrase “use it, or lose it” seems to apply – at least in David Glasheen’s case. Dubbed the modern-day Robinson Crusoe of Australia, he has whiled away nearly two decades on Restoration Island, looking every inch the castaway with his silvery beard and sun-bronzed skin. Despite his appearance, David is not, however, truly a stranded Crusoe; after losing his metaphorical shirt in a 1990’s stock market bubble, the former Sydney businessman voluntarily marooned himself on Resto, as the locals call it, with the intention of transforming the island into an elite luxury resort.
The problem – as the government sees it – is that the development of this proposed resort, which was a condition of David’s 46-year island lease, has thus far failed to materialize. This has embroiled him in a Supreme Court case with the government, which has argued that the island should be repossessed, since it does not host the required tourist amenities valued at AUS $200K. The government had aimed for some accommodation and fishing facilities on Resto, which is prime Great Barrier Reef real estate.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect spot to build another of the tropical island resorts Australia has become famous for. A beautifully wild National Park with a third of the island leased to David, Resto is also rich in history, having been one of the landing sites for the HMS Bounty of mutiny fame in 1789, and even in its rustic state, has been graced with visits from celebrities like Errol Flynn and Russell Crowe; the latter dropped by Resto with his new wife Danielle on their 2003 honeymoon, and enjoyed David’s hospitality with an al fresco beach dinner.
David’s blog reported that he thoroughly enjoyed the evening – despite not knowing who, exactly, Russell Crowe was – and the two men shared a bottle and spun yarns until late into the night. The actor was apparently so besotted with David’s simple island life that he wanted to build his own hut on Resto, and use it as a hideaway from his fame. The long-time hermit, however, thought this was moving a bit too fast. “I don’t really know you that well mate,” he said. “When people live together on an island the chemistry has to be just right.”
The Crusoe of Resto has spent many years searching for that “right chemistry”, having made headlines a few years ago with his search for a “Girl Friday” via international personal ads. After years with just a loyal dog for permanent company, he penned an ad describing himself as “one of the last true adventurers” who was “still looking for his mermaid.”
Unfortunately for David, and any ladies who may have been tempted by his personal ads, the Supreme Court has just handed down a ruling in favor of the Aussie government. He is attempting to mount an appeal, but he may be forced to vacate Resto for good – unless, perhaps, he can drum up some additional investor funding and prove he is moving forward on his resort development.
In any case, whether he will cooperate with the ruling is doubtful, according to the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper. “I’m probably going to stay there,” he said when asked if he had been given a date to hand over the island. “I’m sick of the courts.”
Read more about this story: Daily Mail