There's a new country in town

The Gold Coast Weekend Bulletin/September 25, 2006

Monaco and Luxembourg are world-famous sovereign states, but what about Tamborine?

A group of residents from the Gold Coast Hinterland community say they have joined a new country, complete with its own driver's licences, number plates, postal system and even its own currency.

The Commonwealth of Caledonia Australis, an idealist 'nation' based on a refusal to follow some conventional Australian laws and customs, has had members scattered across Australia for more than a decade.

It has found a new heart at Tamborine, a small community on the western side of Mount Tamborine.

During the past week, two citizens of the so-called republic have been fined for unlicensed driving by local courts when magistrates failed to recognise their Caledonia Australis driver's licences.

On Friday, Mark Borleis, from Tamborine, was fined $900 and banned from driving for three months when he was convicted of driving without a licence and using a fake licence.

Mr Borleis, who had pleaded not guilty, argued that his Caledonia Australis licence was a legal document and not a fake.

A woman faced Beaudesert court on similar charges and was also convicted and fined.

Mr Borleis offered to pay her fine using 'virtual money' writing the amount of the fine on a piece of paper and handing it to the court.

Not surprisingly, the payment was refused.

Mr Borleis could not be contacted yesterday.

Residents of Tamborine were yesterday stunned to learn members of a separatist nation were living in their midst.

Beaudesert Shire councillor Vanessa Bull, whose division takes in Tamborine, said any local citizens of Caledonia Australis would still have to abide by Beaudesert Shire laws.

"They say a man's home is his castle, or in this case, it can be their kingdom, but once they step on to public property, that's it," she said.

One of Mr Borleis's neighbours said that he had no inkling he was living next door to another country.

"I haven't seen any military parades or anything, so they haven't have sent in the troops yet," he said.

Caledonia Australis was founded in 1992 under the leadership and authority of the self-styled His Royal Highness Prince Edward James Renton, who called himself the Prince Palatine of the Principality of Caledonia.

The organisation, which claims to be a legally recognised nation, announced its status to the world two years ago.

It sent official documentation, on Caledonia Australis letterheads complete with a crest and coat of arms, to world leaders including the Queen and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Last year, Caledonia Australis signed a 'peace treaty' with a rival principality, the Nu Altamaha Yamassee Nation.

The treaty was written in bizarre Egyptian- style hieroglyphics.

The group has ties to the Magnificat Meal Movement, a cult once led by controversial Queensland identity Debra Geileskey.

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