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Australia’s Self Proclaimed States and Micronations

A micronation, sometimes referred to as a model country or new country project, is an entity that claims to be an independent nation or state but is not recognized by world governments or major international organizations. Micronations are distinguished from imaginary countries and from other kinds of social groups (such as eco-villages, campuses, tribes, clans, sects, and residential community associations) by expressing a formal and persistent, even if unrecognized, claim of sovereignty over some physical territory.

The micronation phenomenon is tied closely to the rise of the nation-state concept in the 19th century, and the earliest recognisable micronations can be dated to that period. Most were founded by eccentric adventurers or business speculators, and several were remarkably successful. Micronational activities were disproportionately common throughout Australia in the final three decades of the 20th century.

Hutt River Province
Hutt River Province Principality was the first manifestation of the phenomenon; it was founded on 21st April 1970, when Prince Leonard (born Leonard George Casley) declared his farming property independent after a dispute over wheat quotas. Casley declared his farm to be an independent country under the name Hutt River Province. He attempted to secede from Australia over a dispute surrounding wheat production quotas. A few years later, Casley began styling himself Prince Leonard and granting family members royal titles, although he did not include the word “principality” in his country’s official name until 2006. On 2 December 1977 the province officially declared war on Australia. Leonard Casley notified authorities of the cessation of hostilities several days later.

The Principality of Hutt River still exists and is todau a regional tourist attraction. It issues its own currency, stamps, and passports (which are not recognised by the Australian Government or any other government). The principality is located 517 km north of Perth, near the town of Northampton in the state of Western Australia. It has an area of 75 square kilometres, making it larger than several independent countries.

In April 2016, the Principality of Hutt River finally received an official nod from Australia’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Leonard received a letter with the Queen’s good wishes on the anniversary of the Principality seceding from Australia 46 years earlier. On 1st February 2017, at the age of 91 and after ruling for 45 years, Prince Leonard announced he would shortly be abdicating the throne, handing over to his youngest son, Prince Graeme who took over the throne on 15 February 2017.
  • Hutt River Province Website

  • Province of Bumbunga
    1976 witnessed the creation of the Province of Bumbunga on a rural property near Snowtown, South Australia, by an eccentric British monarchist. The Province operated until until approximately 2000. Its founder and only ruler was a British monkey trainer, uranium prospector, and postmaster named Alex Brackstone. When the Australian Labor Party government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed under controversial circumstances by Governor-General John Kerr, the official governmental representative of Queen Elizabeth II in November 1975, Brackstone became alarmed by what he saw as a drift away from the Australian system of constitutional monarchy toward outright republicanism. To ensure that at least a portion of the Australian continent would always remain loyal to the British Crown, he declared his four-hectare property northeast of Adelaide to be the independent Province of Bumbunga on 29th March 1976, and appointed himself its “governor-general”.

    Brackstone then set about attracting tourism by planting thousands of strawberry plants in the pattern of a huge scale model of Great Britain. He intended to conduct weddings on his property, during which soil from the appropriate British county would be sprinkled on the ground. Implementation was delayed when Australian customs authorities seized the soil Brackstone had imported from the UK, and the entire enterprise was scuttled when the strawberry fields perished during a drought. In 1980 Bumbunga began issuing Cinderella stamps portraying members of the British royal family (except Sarah Ferguson, whom Brackstone disliked). Later issues addressed anti-nuclear sentiments and other social causes while retaining the royal theme. Though worthless as postage, they became popular with philatelists and oddity collectors. Fifteen series of 5000 copies each were eventually produced.

    In 1987 changes to Australian investment laws that reduced the attraction of philatelic investments led Brackstone to abandon his commercial operations, and Bumbunga slid into relative oblivion. In 1999 Brackstone was arrested and charged with possession of illegal firearms. His assertion of diplomatic immunity due to his status as Bumbunga’s sovereign was unsuccessful, and he was eventually deported and repatriated to the UK.

    Sovereign State of Aeterna Lucina
    A German immigrant named Robert Neuman created the Sovereign State of Aeterna Lucina in 1978 in a hamlet on the New South Wales north coast, before later relocating to a large rural property near Cooma. The state existed until the death of its founder in the 1990s. The German-born pensioner from the northern Sydney beachside suburb of Curl Curl claimed to have received the title “Baron Neuman of Kara Bagh” from the exiled former King Hassan III of Afghanistan. He also claimed to have been awarded over 850 other honours, including Professorships, Doctorates of Philosophy and Divinity, and dozens of chivalric honours.

    At some point during the 1980s the “state” moved temporarily to Neuman’s Curl Curl residence, before its relocation to a 14 rural property near the Snowy Mountains town of Cooma, in southern New South Wales. According to a 1989 television report the Curl Curl residence – known as Vitama – was considered to be the micronation’s capital. The state was finally relocated to an undisclosed location in rural Victoria. The state of Aeterna Lucina came to public attention in 1990 when several people associated with it, including a leading Sydney businessman, faced fraud charges relating to visa and land sale offences in the New South Wales court system.

    Duchy of Avram
    At around the same time an eccentric anti-taxation campaigner named John Charlton Rudge founded the Duchy of Avram in western Tasmania; “His Grace the Duke of Avram” later went on to become an elected member of the Tasmanian Parliament. The public manifestation of the Duchy was The Royal Bank of Avram which at one time operated from retail premises owned by The Grand Duke of Avram in George Town, Tasmania, and which still issues its own banknotes and coinage and platinum 1 ounce coins. This enterprise was later relocated to Strahan, on Tasmania’s west coast. Customers were required to exchange Australian currency for the Avram equivalents in order to obtain the currency. The Bank still operates today. The Duchy of Avram has never claimed territory in the manner of other Australian micronations such as the Hutt River Province.

    Independent State of Rainbow Creek
    In Victoria, a long-running dispute over flood damage to farm properties led to the creation of the Independent State of Rainbow Creek in the state’s northeast by Tom Barnes in 1979. It was founded as a result of a long-running compensation dispute between a group of Victorian farmers in the town of Cowwarr, and an agency of the Victorian state government, the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission (SRWSC), and was intended as a way of publicising their cause to the wider community. Barnes became aware of the Hutt River Province, and seeking to emulate “Prince Leonard” took legal advice and then declared the unilateral secession of his property from the State of Victoria on 23 July 1979. He appointed himself “Governor” of the newly created Independent State of Rainbow Creek, and together with “Minister for Information” George Downing, swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as his Head of State. His secession document was lodged with the Victorian Governor, the Governor-General of Australia, Buckingham Palace and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

    Public attention was again focused on Cowwarr, and the existence of the State of Rainbow Creek ensured that Barnes remained a thorn in the side of the SRWSC and the Victorian Government for a number of years, as he issued passports, stamps, banknotes and other printed material to promote the cause of his farming community. Ill health eventually forced Barnes to retire to Queensland in the mid 1980s, from where he has since published several books of local history and poetry. The issues that led to the Rainbow Creek secession remain unresolved.

    Principality of Marlborough
    A mortgage foreclosure dispute led George and Stephanie Muirhead of Rockhampton, Queensland, to secede as the Principality of Marlborough in 1993. Muirhead claimed he had been denied natural justice, and, along with his wife and approximately 30 other supporters, declared ihis property to be an independent principality where the bank and Queensland Government had no legal authority. 11 days after the proclamation of independence (at approximately 5:00am), 120 officers of the Queensland Police entered the property and forcibly evicted the Muirheads. The Muirheads won widespread media attention from across the world, with the media portraying them as hardworking people being victimized by a cold, heartless corporation.

    The Muirheads adopted the Australian flag, the Scottish Flag, the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the United Nations Flag as the symbol of their principality during the secession. On the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend 1993, a small number of men, clad in surplus military fatigues, attempted to storm Parliament House in Canberra. When confronted by security officers, the group claimed to be the Marlborough Liberation Army. The group later turned out to be engaged in a high school prank. As of 2004, the Muirheads have not pursued their claim to the principality.

    Principality of Laird’s Corner
    Dutch born Canadian, John Bleeker was the self-titled Prince of Laird’s Corner, near Robertson in the NSW Southern Highlands. He pulled the plug on Australia in 1985 as a result of a “war” against the local council. It was as much a ratepayer’s strike as a secession that grew out of a gut feeling and disgust about what he saw as injustices practised by the local government against him. As a result, he created the Principality of Laird’s Corner, centered around the Robertson Pie Shop, and at one stage even planned to issue his own currency. He would not talk, write or talk much about it or his secession, but his shop windows were full of slogans, letters and articles regarding it.

    John Bleeker

    The publicity he thus gained did much for his excellent pie shop, run efficiently by his wife Cora, though this was not the reason why he created the Municipality of Laird. After John died, his wife Cora made peace with the local council, and John’s son eventually took over the thriving business that no doubt gained as much notoriety from the secession as it did from Cora’s pies.

    Principality of United Oceania
    Another Australian secessionist state came into existence on 1st May 2003, when Peter Gillies declared the independence of his sixty-six-hectare northern New South Wales farm as the Principality of United Oceania after an unresolved year-long dispute with Port Stephens Council over Gillies’s plans to construct a private residence on the property. As the owner of a 66 hectare property, the ex-policeman had a number of rulings made against him by local government officials and the courts in the run up to his decision to declare the independent Principality on 1st May 2003. A development application on the property had been blocked by the local council on the grounds of aircraft noise, despite expert evidence to the contrary being tendered to the hearing. In a separate dispute over the payment of worker s compensation insurance, involving his alleged default on a new contract that was drawn up without him ever having seen, agreed to or signed it, Gillies was declared bankrupt, and his property seized.

    Peter Gillies seceded from Australia, and now presides over the Principality of United Oceania. Mr Gillies notified the Premier of NSW, the State Governor, the Governor-General, the UN and the Queen, then on May 1 proclaimed a new nation on his 66ha property at Medowie near Salamander Bay”.

    Principality of Wy
    The Principality of Wy is an Australian micronation based in the Sydney suburb of Mosman. Established in 2004 in response to a lengthy dispute with the local council, ‘Prince Paul’ Delprat also describes it as ‘the Artists’ Principality’,and the website includes selected artworks by artists connected with the principality and commentary supporting aspects of the visual arts. The story of the Principality began in 1993 when the Delprat family applied to build a driveway over their frontage, an unbuilt road near Wyargine Reserve. Eleven years later the situation had not been resolved, and a ceremony was held at Mosman Town Hall on 15 November 2004, during which the secession from Mosman council was announced. Dressed in full regalia, on behalf of the principality, the prince of Wy presented the declaration of independence, titled the Decree of Secession, to the Mayor of Mosman.

    On 21 February 2011, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for Principality of Wy. On 1 September 2010 a similar trademark registration[29] was filed in Australia by Prince Paul (Paul Delprat). The application was accepted on 6 January 2011 and on 2 June 2011 Australian Trade Mark No. 1381350 (Principality of Wy) became a registered and protected trademark.


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