Not even sure where to start with this one, we were going to include this in our Kalbarri blog but then both agreed that it was so strange it deserved its own blog post!
So yesterday we lost an hour or so of our life visiting this country we didn’t even know existed! We still don’t really understand what’s going on, it was like we visited the twilight zone!
Ok, let’s try to explain this in the easiest possible way …… some of you might have heard about this from back in the 70’s, but the first we heard about it was when our camping neighbour showed us a brochure and we were so intrigued we had to take the drive out to see it.
This huge stone carving is of Prince Leonard’s head!
Basically this guy named Leonard George Casley owned land in Western Australia between Kalbarri and Northampton and was a wheat farmer. Back in the late 60’s he struggled with the Government over wheat quotas and decided to create his own country within Australia and basically after outsmarting the government he succeeded. He seceded from Australia on 21st April 1970 and the ‘Province of Hutt River’ was born and headed by ‘Prince Leonard’ and his wife ‘Princess Shirley’.
The journey hasn’t always been easy one, with Prince Leonard actually declaring war against Australia at one point. He withdrew 3 days later. The government and related parties (eg ATO) have, and still are trying to bring down the prince and his country, but he’s a very smart man and seems to know what he’s doing and knows what the law is!
Princess Shirley sadly passed away a few years ago
Prince Leonard gave us permission to sit in his and the princess’ thrones in the chapel!
We met Prince Leonard and he showed us around, explained a few things and showed us some of his memorabilia. He is now nearly 91, but he seems in good health and was quite interesting once you started to talk to him, and he’s one intelligent man. He is apparently a great mathematician and has many doctorates and connections with NASA or something, if it’s all true it’s pretty amazing as he left school at the age of 14 and had limited education so is all self taught. Over the years he was also very successful in the mining, farming and property industries, as well as serving in the war.
The residents of Hutt River do not pay tax. They apparently do still need to lodge a tax return, but they are treated as non residents of Australia. Of course, as they are not residents of Australia they are not entitled to Medicare or Centrelink benefits.
Hutt River is a legitimate sovereign nation and they can even stamp your passport there. They even have their own flag, anthem, currency and postage stamps and issue visas. The province is apparently comparable in size to Hong Kong. It houses a Government building and Post Office and a chapel as well as a few other things that we really didn’t understand at all!
Strange to think that when we visited we were leaving Australia and entering another country, all very weird!
Are we glad we visited, Yes, it is a fascinating story, although it’s really hard to get your head around it! If you are travelling through the area it’s worth the drive out there, but maybe check out their website first so you have an idea of what’s going on before you get there ….. at least you’ll be one step ahead of us!