There is a place in Australia that is not Australia. It is an independent sovereign state 75 square kilometres in size, which is about the size of Hong Kong. It is the oldest micronation in Australia and they seceded from Australia in 1970. This place is called the Principality of Hutt River.
The capital is called Nain, and there you can learn about how the Principality came about, get your passport stamped in the Government Office and send a postcard from the Hutt River Post Office using one of their official stamps. After exploring the inter-denominational chapel, wander over to the souvenir shop and pick up a few mementos, like fabric patches, badges, spoons, desk flags or stubbie holders. You can even pick up a set of Principality of Hutt River coins and currency notes – all of which have the same exchange rate as the Australian dollar. The one thing that was noticeably absent was a pub.
The population of the Principality of Hutt River is 23 people, but there are 14,000 world-wide citizens, with some holding military and naval commissions even though the micronation is landlocked and the ocean is about 40km to the west. Primary exports include wildflowers, stamps, coins and agricultural products like wheat, but they are also heavily involved in tourism as nearly 40,000 tourists visit every year. While we were there, we had to wait for a huge group of Asian tourists to finish filling out their VISA forms and taking pictures with their massive DSLRs before we got a chance to meet the Prince.
The Australian Government does not recognise the secession of Hutt River Province.
The Casley Family
His Royal Highness Prince Leonard I of Hutt is married to Her Royal Highness Princess Shirley of Hutt, Dame of the Rose of Sharon. Crown Prince Ian was born in 1947 and is the Prime Minister of the principality and the designated successor. There is also Prince Wayne, Prince Richard and Prince Graeme.
Prince Leonard is a micronation trendsetter because after his success, dozens of micronations were established around the world.
The History of Succession
It all started in 1969 when the Western Australian Government imposed wheat production quotas. The Casley farm had around 4,000 hectares of wheat ready to harvest but the quota only allowed the Casleys to sell approximately 40 hectares.
Leonard lodged a protest with the Governor of Western Australia and the reply was “no rectification of the Casley Quota would be allowed”. With the reasoning that the Governor acts on behalf of the Queen, Leonard found Her Majesty to be liable and lodged a huge $52 million claim under the Law of Tort. The government’s response was to introduce a bill that allowed the WA government to resume the Casley farm. After repeatedly requesting to have the bill reconsidered, Leonard had to resort to International Law applied for succession, declared independence and created the Hutt River Province.
Later on, Prime Minister William McMahon took it upon himself to deal with the Hutt River Province and persecute Leonard. Leonard became aware of this and knew that if the Province became a Principality, then the British Laws of Treason would protect them and their land. The family voted to raise the status of the territory to a principality and they were safe once more.
During Malcolm Fraser’s time as Prime Minister, Prince Leonard was informed that Fraser had ordered the Taxation Department to come after him. After three court cases (with the transcripts mysteriously lost), Leonard accused Malcolm Fraser of waging a State of Cold War on the Principality and took it a step further by declaring a State of War between the Principality and Australia.
When the Australian Government was notified of the declaration of war, they laughed and thought Prince Leonard had gone mad! Three days later, Prince Leonard sent word to the Governor-General declaring the State of War over, which, under the Laws of War, gives Sovereignty to the Government that is undefeated in a State of War. Leonard also notified the Swiss Federal Council, the Governor-General and Malcolm Fraser that the Principality has accepted and applied the Geneva Conventions of 1949 under Act 103 of Australia, which means that the conventions regarding prisoners of war apply to the Principality, even if one party does not recognise the other. By doing this, Prince Leonard accepted Political Duty and if anyone tried to obstruct or interfere with his political duty, then under Act 103 of Australia they would be guilty of an offence under the Australian Crime Act of obstructing a person performing their political duty.
When the Australian Government got this news, they weren’t laughing anymore.
Camping in the Principality
Just ‘down the road’ from Nain is a camping ground with toilets and a shower, a shelter, dishwashing station, picnic benches and a fire place. We decided to stay overnight at a fee of $5 each and cooked up the fish we caught in Kalbarri as we watched kangaroos graze in the distance.
In the morning, we went for a walk ‘into town’, checked out the chapel with the kooky blue windows and admired the interesting art pieces scattered around the country.