In 1970, Leonard and Shirley Casley owned land which contained 9900 acres of ready to harvest wheat on their farm situated 595km north of Perth. At the time, the government imposed wheat quotas which only allowed them to sell 99 acres of the wheat that they had. As a protest against the wheat quotas, Casley took steps to secede and to declare independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. Casley had successfully created the first micronation within Australia naming himself as the ruler, His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt and his wife as Princess Shirley and their sons as dukes and their daughters as duchesses.
The thriving Principality successfully seceded from Australia and were up and running with their own passports, currency, stamps and souvenirs. The Prince and Princess regularly travelled out of Australia using their Hutt River passport and have met many dignitaries here and overseas.
Fast forward to 2013, and the Principality of Hutt River is regularly visited by tourists and last year 40,000 came through the welcoming gates.
For two years my partner and I have been talking about visiting the Principality. This time we made sure we made time to stop by. Driving north from Perth towards Kalbarri on the North West Coastal Highway, we turned left into Binnu Road West (opposite the Binnu Roadhouse). The sealed road turns into a well worn unsealed road. Follow the signs and turn left into Box road. Take this road all the way to the end and you will see the entry gates to the Principality of Hutt River.
Coming up the driveway we noticed a large carving of Prince Leonard and several government offices and a church, all of which we were free to wander around in. There is also a building which is like a museum and has a room full of displays and souvenirs.
Unfortunately at the time we visited, Princess Shirley had just passed away and the Principality's flags were at half mast. Most of the townsfolk had left to attend the funeral but a few friendly staff were still on hand to guide us around.
In the Principality's post office my partner got his passport stamped with entry and exit visas for the low cost of $2. However, forgetful visitors can purchase a visa on a printed piece of paper for $2 and then glue it into their passport when they get home.
Although the Principality of Hutt River is a bit out of the way, it is definitely worth the visit for a quirky - and something different - thing to do during your travels. You'll get to meet local royalty and listen to their interesting stories.