Hutt River Province was established as a nation in Western Australia in 1970. Or so claim Prince Leonard Casley and his family.
The Casley crew maintain that they are independent of Australia, but a recent ruling for the family to pay back more than $3 million in income tax owed to the Australian government indicates otherwise.
Regardless of Hutt River’s legitimacy as a country, it’s a fun place to visit. And more fun if you just give in to the family’s claim that it is its own nation.
The principality is located on 75 square km of farmland nearly 600 km north of Perth. Prince Leonard decided to secede from Australia, because wheat production quotas at the time were far too low to justify the cost and effort of farming and harvesting wheat. He declared Hutt River—named for a river of the same name on the property—an independent sovereign state on April 21, 1970. According to Prince Leonard, Hutt River Province had the essentials to make a country: a flag, law, a community and a government of more than three people.
The country’s flag and seal emblem was designed by a man in New York who heard about Hutt River Province and wanted to create something for the country. The flag has an eagle for freedom, a bull head for strength, a thistle for independence and scales for justice.
While Hutt River Province was initially established as a legal loop hole to avoid wheat production quotas, the principality has grown into a tourist destination. Prince Leonard has continued to develop the country by adding buildings, facilities and services.
Hutt River Province has its own currency, stamps and passports (that aren’t recognized by any government). There is a post office, chapel, memorabilia department and government office. You can send a letter with a Hutt River Province stamp or have a wedding or christening at the chapel.
While tourism has supplemented the family’s income (you can purchase Hutt River Province mugs, magnets, money and so much more), farming is still the main business for the family. They grow wheat, lupins and barley. They also have a large sheep farm.
Prince Leonard, 91, ruled until February of this year until he abdicated the throne. He is succeeded by his youngest son, Prince Graeme. But Prince Leonard is still around, and happy to welcome visitors to his home and share about its history.
If you find yourself traveling the coast in Western Australia, which you should because it’s great, make your way inland a bit to meet the quirky Casleys and see their little country. It’s not often you’re able to visit a nation within a nation!