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Micro-nation Hutt River hits the market for the first time in 50 years

If you’re looking to find a safe haven from lockdowns, you might be in the market for an entire micro-nation.

The historic Hutt River Province in Western Australia (WA), which once operated as a sovereign micro-nation complete with its own stamps and currency, has hit the market.

Located 40km north of Northampton in WA’s North, the property comprises more than 6100ha of farmland and a number of small huts.

Despite being set on 75 square kilometres of farming land (more than 30 times bigger than the country of Monaco), it was home to just 30 people at its peak. The micro-nation claimed to be the same size as Hong Kong.

Micro-nations are entities claiming to be sovereign states, but aren’t legally recognised as independent. It’s different to a micro-state like Italy’s Vatican City, which is internationally recognised. However, Hutt River is more than 70 times bigger than Vatican City.

It was first purchased in the 1960s when the WA government introduced wheat quotas.

‘Prince’ Leonard Casley and his French-born wife ‘Princess’ Shirley attempted to separate from the state claiming sovereignty in 1970. While no government body recognised the move, Hutt River did produce its own currency and stamps.

It certainly wasn’t the last time Prince Leonard rebelled against government authorities. In 1977, he declared war on Australia.

Australia was pursuing the principality over unpaid taxes, according to CNN. After conferring with his own local government, they decided to declare war, rather than pay.

The war only last a few days.

It’s unclear whether a second war was on the cards, after the Royal Hutt River Defence Force was established in 1988.

The force included an army, a navy and a military college. The training programs were so impressive that affiliates of the US Army adopted the techniques. At least, that’s what the Hutt River official website suggests.

The state was ‘dissolved’ last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, but had previously been a thriving tourist destination.

Tourists to the region would have to secure an entry visa and receive a stamp in their passport, which costs around $2, according to CNN. The Hutt River dollar traded one-to-one for Australian dollars.

Visitors could tour the principality’s Post Office, the Memorabilia Department and Historical Society, a non-denominational chapel and Princess Shirley’s Sacred Educational Shrine, which was established by Hutt River’s Real College of Advanced Research. There were also leisure activities, including a putt-putt course and a tea room.

The centrepiece was the Royal Art Collection, which included documents, news clippings and a giant bust of Prince Leonard, carved from rock by a Canadian artist.

Prince Leonard sadly passed away in 2019. Unfortunately, he left behind a multi-million dollar tax bill, which forced his son Prince Graeme Casley to sell the land.

While there’s still a chance an avid historian might purchase the land, it is more likely to be sold in three seperate allotments for farming and agriculture.

The property, which is officially located at 2704 Ogilvie West Road, Yallabatharra, is for sale through Elders Real Estate WA Rural & Metro.

Elders Agent Kris Teakle said Hutt River has a “euphoric” feeling to it.

“An astute investor will have the choice to enhance the farmland and current infrastructure to improve on what’s there now or lease out the settlement area for any number of commercial ventures,” she said.

“The location of the property has the Coral Coast only a short drive away and boasts stunning flora and fauna, not to mention the prized marron that are in the Hutt River itself.”

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Jessamy Tredinnick

Jessamy Tredinnick was the news journalist for Elite Agent Magazine from June 2021 - October 2021. For current stories, news alerts or pitches, please email editor@eliteagent.com.au.