Hutt River Province

For years I have heard of the Hutt River Province and so was very keen to visit. They told as at Kalbarri that although it was a dirt road it was good road that we could take our campervan on.

We drove 20km off the highway along dirt roads and finally found the province. There was a nice new front gate (compared to the photos I had seen in the past).

As we drove up the driveway first thing we saw on the left was a huge bust of Prince Lenoard's head. (The kids enjoyed draping themselves over Prince Leonard for a photograph). Then to the left was a church, a government office/post office. Next a toilet block, then old caravan park, then a tourist shop, behind that a house, a strange pyramid structure, a collection of gemstones and Prince Lenoard and Princess Shirley's house.

We headed to the gift shop where we met Princess Shirley (now an elderly lady). She apologised that Prince Leonard was sick and in bed.

On one side as a museam tyle display: memorabilia, letters from various government officials, and on other side a gift shop.

We bought some souvenirs and Princess Shirley told us the story. The government imposed a wheat quota in 1970. They had 2000 hectares of wheat, but were only allowed to produce 100 hectares. So they check the law and succeeded. She is an intelligent woman. The mother of seven. All kids married. Three of the boys still live on the property with their families and work the farm which is now a sheep farm. One is a teacher somewhere else. All three girls are married to non farmers. She has 20+ grandchildren and I think a similar number of great grandchildren. There is a line of succession. It appears that Shirley and Leonard look after the tourist side of the business. They have regular visits from people like us and tour bus coaches.

She tooks us to the Post Office and then to the church. She said there was a monthly service in the chapel there. But that the building had been used by a variety of religions faiths (Jews etc).

On health care they are not part of the Australian system. She said the deal was 'you put nothing in, so you get nothing out of it.'

The farm vehicles have Hutt River number plates. But they are required to have WA plates to drive on the WA roads (One of the farm boys got in trouble for driving on the WA roads when he had Hutt River plates over the top of his WA ones and was fined $20).

They are not required to pay tax to Australia for income generated on the property. But are required to pay Australian tax on any investments in the Australian financial system (there are no investments at present).

I asked about the future and she told me that they were thinking of establishing (or allowing the establishment of other businesses in the province).

I regret that I didn't ask about what would happen if a serious crime were committed (a mass murder for example). I am sure that her answer would have been that the Hutt River justice system would deal with it (there is an army line of command etc).

I imagine that is the sort of test that no one wants to see.

It was a fascinating morning. Shirley is an intelligent engaging woman. The kids thought it was a hoot!