Golfing heads to the outback

Golfers will be able to give their clubs an outback workout from next month when a golf course, touted as the world's longest, opens on the Nullarbor Plain.

Nullarbor Links covers 1365 kilometres and crosses two states. It begins and ends (depending on which way you approach it) in the goldmining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and the coastal town of Ceduna in South Australia.

Golfers will have to contend with more than strong winds and water hazards on the par 72 course.

In addition to tackling the rough desert terrain, there will be wombats, camels and kangaroos to dodge. Not to mention the resident ball-stealing crow.

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"At the Nullarbor Roadhouse there was a crow that you had to run down the fairway and scare off because it would pinch the balls," said David Blanch, who was able to give the course a test-drive with his wife, Cheryl, this month.

The couple, who hail from Ballina in northern NSW, lost only one ball, but a group of six Kiwis who completed the course lost eight.

An untapped revenue raising opportunity for the roadhouse, perhaps?

Nullarbor Links has taken almost five years to get off the ground. Like many grand plans, it was formed between friends, Alf Caputo and Bob Bongiorno, over a bottle of red wine at the Balladonia Roadhouse.

"It's a huge road and is very boring," Caputo said of the Nullarbor Plain.

"With this idea, people rest, go into the roadhouses for a can of drink and have a game of golf."

The course can be completed in four days, although the Blanches took seven days and did some sightseeing, including whale watching, between holes.

Of the 18 holes, seven are in existing golf courses, and 11 have been purpose built near each of the roadhouses along the Eyre Highway. For these, synthetic turf was laid at each tee and hole. However, the fairway remains the natural terrain. One is even on a working sheep station.

"One of the holes is massive, it's 520 metres, hitting up a hill against the prevailing wind," Caputo said. "It is a par five that should be a par seven. Most people who have played it think Tiger Woods wouldn't be able to do it."

It's definitely not a course to be tackled in a golf buggy. Caputo says the average distance between holes is 66 kilometres. Two of the holes are almost 200 kilometres apart.

"It's an Australian experience," Caputo said. "When you lob in Sydney, if you took away the Opera House and the [harbour] bridge you could be in any city in the world. Certainly, when you play Nullarbor Links you couldn't be anywhere but in Australia."

But what do the punters think? Cheryl and David Blanch, who are both amateur golfers, gave it a big thumbs-up.

"It is as rough as, but it is great fun," David said. "There was a suggestion sheet to input improvements but we said nothing [needs to change]. It needs to be left like that. You don't have to be a golfer and, if you are, it is just great fun anyhow."

Nullarbor Links officially opens on October 22. For details: