Private golf club member test drives the Nullarbor Links

Steve Perkin posing in front of Nullarbor Links sign

Crossing the Nullarbor is just a walk in the park.

Well, perhaps not a walk, but it’s certainly not what it was. In fact, it even has its own golf course, and as stupid as that concept may sound, it’s actually a lot of fun.

The course is called the Nullarbor Links. It’s the longest in the world at 1365 kilometres and it’s like no other course you’ve ever played, or ever will play.

It works like this:

  • You go to the tourist information centre in Ceduna or Kalgoorlie, depending which way you’re travelling, pay $70 and get a golf card.
  • The card tells you where each of the 18 holes can be found and, as with any normal golf card, it will give you the distance and par for each hole.
  • You play each hole as you drive across the Nullarbor, enter your score and get the card stamped by a local business near each tee, usually a roadhouse.

Nobody cares what you score or how long you take. When I played it with my wife, we played 14 holes, then on our return trip two months later, played the last four holes.

The holes vary enormously in the degree of difficulty. In Kalgoorlie, for example, you play two holes at the wonderful Kalgoorlie Golf Club, designed by the world class architect Graham Marsh.

At the Madura Pass Motel, in an area once responsible for supplying polo ponies and cavalry horses for the British army, you’ll find a 125m par three set just near a car park that’s full of caravans and trucks.

There’s a par four that crosses a local airstrip, a par five with crows that like to steal your golf ball, countless rocks and stones to navigate, and, despite the course’s name, plenty of trees to play over, under or into.

This is a course with more native vegetation than grassy fairways and the hard ground will scuff up your clubs, so take an old set if you have one – or just a few essential clubs.

You may be asking yourself why anyone crossing the Nullarbor would embark on such a crazy activity, and the answer is in the very reason why the course was created in the first place – to break up your trip so you’re not driving tired.

The holes, which are usually an hour or two apart, make you stop, perhaps buy something to eat, top up the fuel tank even if you don’t really need petrol, or force you to simply stretch your legs.

That is good for the driver and for local businesses, the owners of which dreamed up the golfing idea some 17 years ago and then followed it through to completion in 2009.

And you learn a lot about the history of the area via the info boards at the start of each hole.

If you do embark on this golfing novelty, you won’t be alone. I think I saw only two holes where there weren’t other players, and every roadhouse I questioned said a handful of other players had played their hole that day.

As for my score, I recorded one par and a host of bad numbers going up to an 11 on a par four at the Mundrabilla Motel. The course record is a two under par 70 set by somebody in 2018. How they did that is beyond me given the length of the course.

So now I bore my golfing buddies with stories about how I played the longest course in the world. I’ve got a golf card stamped 18 times to prove it and I might even get it framed.

Oddly enough, I’m looking forward to playing it again.

For more information go to the Nullarbor Links website.

Have you played the Nullarbor Links? Would you add it to the journey if not? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: The Nullarbor – beast or beauty?

Written by Steve Perkin

Steve Perkin had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, covering sport and general news and writing daily columns for The Age and the Herald Sun. He's written three books and is a regular YourLifeChoices contributor.

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