The route to my 100th (FIFA recognised) country couldn’t have been more bizarre really. To spice things up, and in true fashion of the way this journey has gone, I decided to visit a few small countries/micronations on the way. My fascination for disputed regions, breakaway republics and self declared nations possibly comes from the fact that I come from Northern Ireland. A country itself disputed on many levels since its formation in 1921. Having visited some quirky similar places like Sark in 2009, Nagorno Karabakh in 2013, Transnistria in 2014 and Uzupis and Christiania in 2015, it was time for some more crazy micronations, small countries, unknown islands and self declared states. Austenasia, as one of the smallest countries in the world, was high on my list.
England (itself part of the United Kingdom of course) houses more surprises than you could think. Back in the 1970s there was a breakaway republic called Frestonia. There are also several mini countries which are enclaves of the United Kingdom, housed within the UK’s borders, and these include the Reylan Imperial Triumvirate, Sealand, the Lagoan Isles, the Principality of Monovia, and the Community of Landashir. While a lot of these are not internationally recognised by the EU, the UN or FIFA (three entities which I personally use to determine my country count), they are nations in their own right, going by the Montevideo Act. I became the first ever tourist to go backpacking to Austenasia, in March 2015.
I also visited Orly (a protected state of the Empire of Austenasia) which is located near to Wrythe, Austenasia’s capital. In terms of visiting Austenasia, this is a country which spans five continents, however the capital and most Austenasian towns are situated in Europe and it borders England. The capital of Austenasia is Wrythe and I decided to head there first (as well as visiting Orly). I recommend visiting Wrythe if you aim to experience the culture of Austenasia and meet the Empirical Family of the country. They reside in Wrythe and the country was founded in Wrythe back in 2008.
Organising a Trip to Wrythe, Austenasia
It has to be stressed that all trips to Wrythe in Austenasia must be organised in advance and by contacting the Austenasian Government. You do this through the main Austenasia Official Website. You can contact the Austenasian Government in two ways. You can send an e-mail to [email protected] , or you can send a letter to Government of Austenasia, c/o 312 Green Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, SM5 1TS, Great Britain (United Kingdom). I made contact via e-mail and was e-mailed back from the Emperor, Jonathan the First, of Austenasia. Jonathan is the third and longest reigning Emperor of the country since its formation in 2008.
You will be given a date and time for a tour and it can be tailored to your needs. For my own trip I wanted to meet with the Empirical family, have a conversation with the Emperor and tour the main sights of the capital Wrythe. As a bonus, I could also visit the protected state of Orly, which is governed by the UK but recognised by Austenasians as a protected area.
I was the first ever tourist to visit the country of Austenasia as a genuine tourist or backpacker. All previous visitors to the country have been friends of the residents, fellow micronations residers or journalists. It felt nice to be going there on a backpacking journey on my own and I reckon the Austenasian Imperial Family enjoyed it too, as the story featured on the Austenasian Times on the day of my visit and is also being covered on Don’t Stop Living under the Austenasian Tab. So once you have booked your guided tour, it’s time to get your backpack on and go on another crazy journey and cross yet another border into another country.
Getting a Visa or Tourist Pass to Visit Austenasia
As I was the first ever tourist to visit Austenasia, it was something of a new phenomenon to the Austenasian Government and therefore there was no visa, tourist pass or indeed passport check required. The nearest international ports of entry to Wrythe which offer any kind of stamps would be Heathrow or Gatwick Airport, but it will be a UK entry stamp and not an Austenasian one of course.
Wrythe is a landlocked capital and is bordered on all sides by England and the United Kingdom, therefore a visa for the UK is required to be able to visit Wrythe, Austenasia. You cannot visit Wrythe without having passed through the UK. Quite simply Wrythe is a small capital and has no airport or helipad, or any type of public transport for that matter. Wrythe is a terraced house with a rear public park (a back garden) and a front car park (a driveway). So just make sure you are legally allowed in the UK before you head to Wrythe. Being a double EU passport holder (Irish and British) meant a visit to Wrythe in Austenasia was easy for me.
How to get to Wrythe in Austenasia from Carshalton, England
Austenasia’s capital Wrythe is an enclave of the English town of Carshalton, situated in London/Surrey. Wrythe is situated at the street address of 312 Green Wrythe Lane, SM5 1TS, and is directly on the 151 and 80 bus routes, the latter of which is accessible from Morden tube station. There are many options in terms of getting to Wrythe, but I definitely recommend basing yourself in London or Surrey ahead of your visit. Here is a full guide to ensure your border crossing runs smoothly.
Heading from London to Wrythe, Austenasia
There are lots of different options for heading to Wrythe. I decided as a budget backpacker to bus it, so have listed the way I went first and also listed two other options for getting to Wrythe from Carshalton in England.
1. Buses to Wrythe (Austenasia) from Barnes or Roehampton (England)
At the time of my visit to Wrythe, I was staying with my best mate Millwall Neil who was residing in Roehampton. Roehampton is in south west London. I headed to the bus stop called Queen Mary Hospital, which is on the A306 or Roehampton Lane.
From there, I took three separate buses to get to Wrythe in Austenasia:
1. Bus number 265 from Queen Mary Hospital (Barnes/Roehampton) to Fountain (New Malden). The journey time is around 22 minutes.
2. Bus number 213 from Fountain (New Malden) to Sutton/Cheam. The journey time is around 10 minutes.
3. Bus number 151 from Sutton/Cheam to Wrythe, Austenasia (which is 312 Green Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, England). The journey time is around 22 minutes. IN terms of finding Wrythe in Austenasia, you get off the bus on Green Wrythe Lane in Carshalton, so it’s about 4 minutes after the stop for St. Helier Hospital. The bus will turn right onto Green Wrythe Lane from Thornton Road and you press the button at this point ready to get off.
You will get off the 151 bus on Green Wrythe Lane a few houses down from Wrythe, so walk back along the street and Austenasia will be obvious. The Austenasian National flag flies from the front window and there is an immigration and welcome note at the entrance to the country.
So overall the three journeys will take just over an hour bearing in mind delays and waiting time. I arrived in Wrythe at 10.38am as the first tourist ever to visit Austenasia.
In terms of payment for each of these buses, you CANNOT pay in cash on board, so make sure you buy a London Oyster Card, get it topped up and swipe it on entering the bus. Each bus journey will cost somewhere between £1.20 – £2.20 depending on the location you board and the status of your Oyster Card (students, OAPs qualify for discount). Austenasia is a small nation and as yet doesn’t have any public transport of its own or indeed a separate currency. The unit of currency in Austenasia is the British Pound (£).
2. London Undergound, Tube route to Wrythe Austenasia
If you are in London, head to the Northern Line (black line) and take the train south to the final stop, which is Morden. From Morden look out for the 151 or 80 bus routes. Both these buses will go along the street of Green Wrythe Lane in Carshalton, and it is on this road that Wrythe is situated, simply follow the same directions I listed in the buses section above.
3. Train route from London to Wrythe, Austenasia
You can also easily access Wrythe in Austenasia by train from London, or anywhere in England. You simply need to board a train for Carshalton Train Station. Once you alight at Carshalton, it will be a 15-20 minute walk to Wrythe, along two main roads –
North Street or West Street and onto Green Wrythe Lane.
Carshalton station is linked to Sutton, Streatham, London, Blackfriars and Elephant and Castle as detailed below. Oyster cards again can be used on all routes.
Road signs and Street signs to Austenasia
One thing to note from a tourist and backpacking perspective is that there are no obvious or direct road signs or street signs directing you to Wrythe in Austenasia. Despite housing a population of 75, the Empire of Austenasia is spread out over a number of different geographic locations and with Wrythe bordering England, all roads in and out of Carshalton are governed by the United Kingdom. There isn’t even any kind of mention of Austenasia on tourist maps of England or London, nor are there any road signs, street signs or bus stop notifications referencing Wrythe. Perhaps even more disappointingly, the number 151 bus stops only about 30-50 metres away from Wrythe in Austenasia yet the bus timetables don’t display it as Austenasia or Wrythe (Green Wrythe Lane however does appear on the maps and on the mini information screen onboard the bus).
On the route I took, I passed through some cool notable places including Sutton United FC (the last non league team to knock a league team out of the FA Cup) and New Malden.
Crossing the Border from England into Wrythe, Austenasia
In terms of the actual border from Carshalton into Wrythe in Austenasia, it’s a simple crossing by foot. From the street known as Green Wrythe Lane, you walk across the driveway entrance. This red brick line into the driveway/front courtyard of Wrythe is the official and only border crossing into Wrythe.
Despite the fact that Wrythe is bordered on three other sides to other houses and back gardens, none of those borders are currently open to tourists, so you have to walk in through the driveway. Once you are in the driveway of Wrythe, you are officially in Austenasia. Simply progress to the front door of the capital (it’s a matter of metres).
The front door of Wrythe contains the Welcome Sign to the Empire of Austenasia. It contains some of the rules for entering the country. As a tourist, when you ring the bell (on the right hand side of the door), you will be greeted and welcomed by the Imperial Family and begin your tour of the capital. As mentioned before, there are no passport stamps, passport checks, visas or bag checks. Shoes must be removed when entering the interior of Wrythe and cannot be worn inside Parliament Hall. As Jonathan the First said to me, “Welcome to the Empire of Austenasia!”
Souvenirs from Wrythe, Austenasia
Since I was the first ever tourist to visit Wrythe in Austenasia, there isn’t yet any real tourism infrastructure in the country. There is no souvenir or gift shop, however on speaking to the current Emperor Jonathan the First, he revealed plans to eventually make Austenasian souvenirs available. On a personal level I would have loved the following souvenirs from my visit to Austenasia:
– A fridge magnet of the Austenasian flag
– A mini Austenasian flag
– Postcards of Wrythe/Austenasia
– Postage stamps from Austenasia
– An optional dated passport stamp upon entry into the country
(If you have read my post on backpacking in Uzupis and Christiania, you will have noticed that those countries issue some of the above – cool quirky souvenirs to take away from your visit).
However, I was delighted that the Emperor Jonathan I allowed me to take away one souvenir from my visit – a signed official declaration marking the celebration of the Emperor’s Cotton Jubilee (1 Year).
Here are some videos of my trip to Wrythe in Austenasia including the border crossing from the English town of Carshalton into Wrythe, Austenasia: