Independent State of Rainbow Creek
fullName = Independent State of Rainbow Creek
shortName = Rainbow Creek
secondImageType = Seal
anthemName = God Save the Queen
purpOrgStruct = Autonomous British Colony
leadership = Governor Thomas Barnes
23 July, 1979
membership = <5
language = English
purpCurrency = Rainbow Creek Dollar
The Independent State of Rainbow Creek was an
Australian secessionist micronationactive during the 1970s and 80s.
It was founded as a result of a longrunning 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.
Cowwarr is located on the
Thomson Riverin the Victorian Alps. It is sited downstream of heavily forested country, and during the winter flood seasoninfrastructure in the area is often subject to damage by the large volume of bushland debris washed downstream.
bridgebuilt over the Thomson River at Cowwarr in the late 1930s proved to be sited too close to the annual flood high watermark, so when that structure proved an impediment to the flow of debris during a particularly violent flood in 1952, the river simply carved a new course for itself around the edge of the bridge. This "breakaway" - later named Rainbow Creek - passed through a number of privately owned farming properties. Remedial action proved ineffective, and the creek was enlarged by subsequent flooding to the size of several football fields - at the expense of the affected farmers’ lands.
Deciding to make the best of a bad situation the farmers began using water from the creek to irrigate their properties, however local and state authorities responded by serving them with levies for water use. Those affected had to pay one set of levies to the local council for land which was now underwater, because their title deeds did not show the existence of the creek, a second levy to the SRWSC for using creek waters for irrigation purposes, and a third levy to the Thomson River Improvement Trust which was supposed to prevent further erosion by the creek - which nonetheless continued to grow inexorably with each new flood. The SRWSC then constructed a weir across the river downstream of the bridge in 1954, which had the effect of funnelling even higher volumes of floodwater directly into Rainbow Creek.
By the late 1970s the creek was 8 metres deep and over 50 metres wide, and farmers had to privately fund the construction of bridges to cross from one part of their properties to the other. These were all washed away, along with crops, stock, and equipment by particularly severe flooding in 1978. The farmers of Cowwarr had long blamed government incompetence over nearly three decades for their woes, but when they were denied the right to claim compensation for loss of land, productivity and private infrastructure in 1978 they decided to take further action.
One of the worst affected properties was Yammacoona, located directly below the weir, and owned by Thomas Barnes since 1970. Barnes was a retired UK and Victorian
policeofficer who had settled in the town some time before. He was known as a man of feisty temperament with little patience for the slow-turning wheels of government bureaucracy, and a flair for publicity.
In an attempt to gain public sympathy Barnes and around thirty other farmers decided to declare
waron the state of Victoria. Signed on 19 December, 1978, the Declaration was served with due pomp to a bemused Governorin Melbourneon 16 January, 1979, before banks of television cameras. Some legal scuffling between Barnes and the SRWSC followed in the Victorian court system, during which minor points were won and lost on both sides, after which a government offer of loans - but not the desired compensation - was rejected by the farmer group.
Barnes meanwhile had become 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 Kingdomas his Head of State. His secession document was lodged with the Victorian Governor, the Governor-General of Australia, Buckingham Palaceand the International Court of Justicein 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
Queenslandin 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.
* "If at first you don't secede...", by Mark Dapin, "The Sydney Morning Herald - Good Weekend",
12 February 2005, pp 47-50
*"Local Stamps of Australia" by Bill Hornadge, pub Review Publications, Dubbo, NSW, 1st ed. 1982
* [http://www.imperial-collection.net/rainbowcreek01.html Stamps and banknotes of the Independent State of Rainbow Creek]
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