Day 8 - Principality of Hutt River
On the final day of the tour we continued to make our way back down to Perth. Our first stop of the day was to the Principality of Hutt River. Hutt River is considered a “micronation” and claims to be an independent state. It was founded in 1970 by Leonard Casley who has since gone by “Prince Leonard,” it’s 75 square kilometers and has a population of around 23.
I’m sure you’re wondering how a person could claim part of Australia as their own? Apparently it all started over a dispute between the Casley family and the Western Australia government concerning wheat production quotas. I guess the new quotas were put in place after his wheat had been harvested, which allowed him to sell only a portion of his harvest. This caused Casley to take his case to the government, and this is what resulted:
"In correspondence with the Governor-General’s office, Casley was inadvertently addressed as the "Administrator of the Hutt River Province" which was claimed (via Royal Prerogative as the Queen’s representative) to be a legally binding recognition. After Prime Minister William McMahon threatened him with prosecution for “infringement of territory,” Casley styled himself “His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt” to take advantage of the British Treason Act 1495 in which a self-proclaimed monarch could not be guilty of any offence against the rightful ruler and that anyone who interfered with that monarch’s duties could be charged with treason. The governments recognition of Casley as “Administrator of Hutt River” had inadvertently made the Treason Act applicable and Casley continued to sell his wheat in open defiance of the quota. Although the law in this matter has since changed, the Australian Constitution prevented its retrospectivity and the Australian government has not taken any action against Hutt River since the declaration. Under Australian law, the federal government had two years to respond to Casley’s declaration; Casley says that the failure to respond gave the province de facto autonomy on 21 April 1972.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Hutt_River)
Many other strange happenings occurred, such as Hutt River declaring war on Australia in 1977, due to hostilities revolving around the taxation office and the fact that Hutt River’s mail had to be redirected through Canada as the Australian Post refused to handle it.
Some more interesting things to note: Hutt River residents can declare themselves as “non residents” of Australia for income tax purposes, exempting them from paying Australian tax. Hutt River has coins and banknotes depicting Casley - its currency is called the Hutt River Dollar.
When we arrived at Hutt River we were shown around by one of Prince Leonard’s son’s - the ‘town’ area has its own chapel, post office, statue of Prince Leonard, and museum. Prince Leonard then arrived and for $2 he looked at your passport using a blue light (while looking at mine he told me that Canada’s passport is the most colourful), and then he stamps your passport with entry and exit visas. They’ve been collecting bank notes from visitors around the world, and as you can see from the picture above I found a few Canadian ones. Prince Leonard sure is an interesting fellow - he describes himself as a mathemetician, he’s published books and papers relating to ‘Creation and Spiritual,’ and above is a picture of the ‘Mathematical Model of Nature’s Biological Clock.’
Both Prince Leonard and his son, who I believe was Prince Graeme, were extremely friendly and you could tell they absolutely loved being able to show visitors around their land. What an interesting place to say the least!