small tropical island

A Ruined Millionaire From Australia Lives Alone On A Desert Island For More Than 20 Years

When you live on a remote island in Australia, chances of your survival are quite slim anyway. Even then, if good luck comes your way and you survive crocodiles, dingoes, and the occasional cyclone, your existence is special. And this is what former millionaire David Glasheen thinks too. As he resides on Far North Queensland’s Restoration Island, the man who lost all, states that he has no problems- simply opportunities to build character[1].


David says, “You’ve got to think on the positive side all the time or you go crazy because things get really, really character building. They push you. Things go wrong.”

Just FYI- “wrong” in his situation wouldn’t be waking up on the wrong side of the bed. In his case, wrong usually implies waking next to a crocodile. 


Recluse In A Remote Island In Australia- What could Go Wrong?

David Glasheen looking out at the horizon
Image Credits: Aubrey Comben | ABCNews

For this former millionaire from Australia, wrong could also imply falling and breaking their hip. A break in communication services could also be classified as ‘wrong’. But as we have it, David simply believes these are opportunities that help one build themselves. Interestingly, David- who’s in his late 70s – spoke about how a broken hip almost pushed him over the edge, metaphorically- of course. He says, “It’s lucky the damn phone was going or I’d be dead.” 


Sometimes The Past Brings A Brilliant Future With Itself

As it goes with most situations, the present is usually the result of the past. In the situation of this former millionaire, things are quite similar. Back in the day, he lived in Sydney where he had a multi-million-dollar mining company. But he ended up losing most of his family’s wealth in the 1987 stock market crash. How much? Approximately $37 million in today’s dollars. Wise men say bad luck comes in spades. David faced that too- as his marriage broke down shortly after. He was “wounded, seriously wounded.” 

Glasheen in the past in Kuwait when he was a millionaire
Image Credit: David Glasheen | ABC News

At this time he decided to take up the offer from his friend and visit Restoration Island- after which he never left. He firmly believes that spending 22 years on the island has fixed him completely. David says, “We all need restoration at some point in our lives and that’s what’s happened to me…I’m mentally supercharged.” This former millionaire has written about his life in The Millionaire Castaway. And when you are living on a remote island all by yourself, being mentally supercharged is all you have. The very ability to manage danger is very important to David’s life. 


Read: Scientists Amazed At Health Of Man, 87, Who Has Not Washed For 65 Years And Eats Raw Roadkill


Immersing Oneself With Nature- Something Australia Epitomizes

The Australian recluse says,

[Risk] is at the forefront of your brain. You’re well aware of things. You’ve heard the saying ‘measure twice, cut once“. Well, you measure five times, cut once up where I am.

You can’t afford to make errors.

When David broke his hip it took him almost an hour to get 60 meters to reach his phone. Now, the thought of being alone on an island for the last years of his life, and being in his 90s would definitely be risky- but David is pretty elated with the idea. 

The shack where the Australian recluse lives on the island
Image Credit: David Glasheen | ABC News

David has stated that he would love to live his final days on the Island. He says, “I live in heaven- why would you leave heaven?”. With the island closing up his wounds, he believes, “I’m literally born again by being up here.” The recluse has also mentioned that he has not just mentally but physically altered himself by residing on Restoration Island.

He remembers the first time he arrived in Cape York and found the local people being way more attuned to anything out there than most city people. He mentions, “The Aboriginal kids would be spearing diamond mullet that I couldn’t see in the water. They’d spear them, 10 out of 10, all the time.” David only praises the locals, “I would wave at someone opposite the beach and I had to use binoculars, and she’s just waving back at me, so that’s how good her eyesight is compared to mine.


Being the Master of Their Own Domain- Their Own Life

Over the last few decades, the Australian has found out that his own senses have developed. When he goes fishing, he observes “signs that there’s action in the water.” He has mentioned on several occasions, that he can usually see anything that moves in the bush. And since his senses have been attuned, the rest of us won’t be able to compete with him. He says, “I can wander around most nights and know what I’m doing. Your senses soon pick it up when you’ve got no light and you’ve got to see in the dark.”  

There is one thing the rustic Australian does that one would consider normal– he drinks coffee in the morning. He prepares it using a percolator on a gas camping stove. Then comes breakfast, the most important meal of the day. For David, breakfast is often muesli with fruit. He also grows pawpaw and mango, and about four native fruit trees, which also includes wongai- the native plum.

A man with long white hair and beard, wearing boardshorts, stands next to wooden painted sign saying 'Welcome to Resto'.
Image Credit: David Glasheen | ABC News

What About the Ones We Have Lost Along The Way?

But even David can’t deny that he misses his family. Unfortunately, his third child committed suicide about nine years ago- something that he has described as being incredibly difficult to deal with. He stated, “She was getting on top of her life, and she was about to be recharged as I have- she was a female version of me, basically.” 


David may see himself as restored on Restoration Island, but it remains to be seen if he can restore his connection with his family.

Keep Reading: The man who has lived as a hermit for 40 years


  1. When David Glasheen lost everything, moving to a remote island saved him.” ABC. Anna Kelsey-Sugg. July 22, 2019.
  2. Man loses fortune, lives alone on desert island for 20 years.” NY Post. Mark Hodge. June 20, 2017.