19 / 12 / 2022

The Strangest Offences at Law

Fact or Fiction?

No doubt, Australia, like many other countries and jurisdictions around the globe has a variety of bizarre laws that are technically still in the books. However, as a result of numerous misleading articles on the topic, taxi drivers around Queensland have reportedly been buying hay bales by the tonne, whilst Victorian weekends have been eerily void of the usually commonly adorned hot pink hot pants. Therefore, we researched the veracity of some of these claims, to determine whether there was any truth to them. 


Much to the horror of local kebab shops across the state, it is still an offence to possess 50 kilograms of potatoes in Western Australia. This law can be found in Section 22 of the Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946 (WA) and carries a hefty fine of $2000 for first time offenders, and $5000 for the most hardened repeat potato traffickers. Even more strange is the fact that Police are afforded the right to stop people and/or search their vehicles if they suspect them to be in possession of 50 kilograms of potatoes. 

Pursuant to the Vagrancy Act 1966 (VIC), it is illegal to provide psychic and tarot readings in Victoria as they are considered a form of witchcraft. Luckily, there are no such prohibitions in NSW or the ACT, as some clients have described our lawyers work as magic.  

In Victoria, Section 70C of the Crimes Act 1958 (VIC) prohibits persons from corresponding or doing business with pirates, ascribing a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. Remaining on the topic of strange coastal laws, in Western Australia people are prohibited from cleaning or collecting seabird droppings without a licence. Under Section 387 of  the Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA), you may be jailed for up to a year for engaging in such heinous offences. We were unable to discover how exactly to obtain a licence to collect seabird droppings. 

Other Absurd Laws:

  • In Victoria, Section 9 of the Rain-making Control Act 1967 (Vic) makes it an offence to undertake any rainmaking activities, unless you have the sufficient authority to do so.  
  • Pursuant to Section 48A of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) it is against the law to post a lost property notice promising a reward with a ‘no questions asked’ policy.
  • Similarly, it is unlawful in South Australia to intentionally obstruct or disturb a wedding ceremony or funeral – whether it is secular or religious. Accordingly, Section 7A of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) specifies a punishment of $10,000 or two years in prison
  • In Queensland, Section 21 of the Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld) prohibits the false reporting, whether explicitly or implicitly, that a child has been born, a person has died, or a couple have become engaged. Punishments include upwards of $1,129 in fines or 6 months imprisonment.
  • Finally, in Western Australia, Section 370 of the Criminal Code makes it illegal to steal a pigeon, but only if the pigeon is tame and located in a pigeon house or on the rightful owners land. 


Our research revealed that the most outlandish or absurd alleged laws were often too good to be true. Accordingly, there is no existing law in Queensland that requires taxi cabs to carry hay bales in their trunks. Likewise, luckily for your local, bars and hotels are not actually legally required to water, stable and feed their patrons’ horses. 

Nevertheless, by debunking the following laws, we have been able to make your next trip to Melbourne significantly more enjoyable and fashionable. Accordingly, there is no mandate stipulating that swimmers must wear a neck to knee swimsuit at Melbourne’s Brighton Beach. There is  also no validity to the claim that Victorian law prohibits Victorians from wearing hot pink hot pants on a Sunday after midday. 

Whilst this article has dispelled a wide variety of bogus laws that have no basis in legislation, it has also revealed that a number of these absurd or bizarre laws are still on the books. Thus, when visiting these jurisdictions it is important to remember to limit your potato consumption or simply stop yourself from dispensing unsolicited psychic readings. Likewise, it is crucial to remember that your chances of being caught are not zero (probably closer to one in a billion). However, if you are unlucky enough to be charged with one these offences, our criminal defence team are always one call away.

Sam Hines