Unusual Place of the Month: Hutt River Principality

By Nomadic Matt | Published December 15th, 2010

hutt river flagLocated in the desert of Western Australia is the Principality of Hutt River. The principality is an “independent sovereign state” in Australia, though it’s not recognized by any nation in the world. It lives in a legal limbo and has an uneasy and tenuous relationship with Australia.

Hutt River was founded on April 21st, 1970 by Leonard George Casley. Casley founded the “country” in response to a dispute with the government of Western Australia over what he considered draconian wheat production quotas as well as taxes. (It’s always about taxes and quotas huh?) Casley and the other families who owned farms in Hutt River banded together to fight the quota and Casley lodged a protest with the Governor of Western Australia. When the government said they wouldn’t repeal the quotas, Casley sued for $52 million in damages. After he was unsuccessful and lost the case, Casley and his associates resorted to a British law (the Treason Act 1495) which “allowed” them to secede and declare their independence from Australia.

The government of Western Australia determined it couldn’t stop them so asked the Canberra government for help. The then Governor-General of Australia, Sir Paul Hasluck, stated that it was unconstitutional for Australia to intervene in secession. Under Australian law, the government had two years to fight Casley’s declaration and when it failed to do so, the province got de facto legal status on April 21, 1972. (Like I said, it’s a legal mess!)

In the early 1980s, Hutt River Province declared itself to be a kingdom, but soon after reverted to its original status of a principality. The principality proceeded to release a number of its own stamps and coins. The currency of the Hutt River Province Principality is the Hutt River Dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. The Hutt River Dollar is tied at a one-to-one ratio with the Australian dollar. Although few people actually live in Hutt River, the principality claims a world-wide citizenry of 13,000.

hutt river flag

The Australian government doesn’t really interfere with Hutt River or Casley. They let him be in his own quirkiness so long as he doesn’t cause too much trouble. However, Australia has issued statements saying companies aren’t allowed to incorporate in the “province” to avoid paying taxes. If people do try to do so, they face stiff penalties and fines. The attitude here is sort of “let this crazy guy have his fun but we aren’t going to let it spread.” He is also currently suing the government in international court claiming the unclaimed lands in Western Australia as his own under international law.

hutt river flag

If you are driving up the west coast, Hutt River makes for an unusual and interesting stop. It’s really a giant cattle farm, no different from the many that abound in Western Australia. But the oddness of the “royal family” and his claim that he can time travel make for an interesting few hours. It’s one of those oddities, like stopping to see the world’s biggest ball of yarn in Nowhere, USA, that make long road trips fun. Hutt River is located on the road from Northhampton to Kalbarri park. You can spend the night if you want to, otherwise the country is open from 9am to 4pm. Entrance is free. Visit their website for more information on traveling there.

comments 11 Comments

x

but that is so amazing!! are they completely independent from australian law and everything? like, no one from outside can claim authority over them? i would love to have a tiny independent spot of earth like that. life there would be way different than in the crazy perverted systems ive seen everywhere ive been on this earth.

Hell yes. If people were able to secede like this no way would you have a bunch of thinly diguised criminal organizations (read: government) extracting money from people (read: forced labor) to use it for all things good and bad.

x

exactly! there would be free people. the earth gives us everything we need for material survival FOR FREE. there is no need to comply to this crazy system, except they dont let you go and they claim all the land so you cant grow your food. there must be parts of the earth where you can still live freely but the heart is somewhat tied to the homeland after all.

Life Exceptional

Oh wow, that is such as strange story! But I imagine if Australia really wanted the land back it’d only require an army of one tank to do so…

Interesting post. Hadn’t heard of this place before. How cool would it be to have your own country! ;-)

NomadicMatt

Cam,

I think it would be awesome. I’d create some long title that would take five minutes to say.

Sofia

What a crazy story, and what a crazy guy…! It would be pretty cool to have your own country though.. ;)

This is really interesting, i had no idea places like that exist in the 1st world. Make me want to lay claim to my own chunk of Seattle; Joshlandia…the currency will be espresso beans and our days will be filled with blogging and happy hour!

NomadicMatt

Can I move there?

I went to this place when I was in school (I am a West Australian)…I can’t believe it is still there; it was fun though to buy a postcard and stamp and send it. I am sure Mr. Casley still carries an Australian passport though…

NomadicMatt

I wouldn’t doubt it!

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