Oct. 22, 2009 -- Take care not to hit the wild camels that may wander onto the tee along the new Nullarbor Links golf course in Australia. You may also want to avoid the wild wombats who, although cute, may steal your golf ball. If you do run into a wild Kangaroo, the advice is to quickly hop out of the way.
Nullarbor Links, open today for the first time, is a brand new 18-hole par 72 golf course in the Australian outback. At nearly 850 miles long it spans across two states, from Kalgoorlie in West Australia to Ceduna in South Australia. So forget the golf cart and make sure your car is full of gas.
Some tees are as far as 50 miles apart. Depending on how quick you are behind the wheel, completing the course should take between three and four days at a cost of $46 (gas and wombat treats not included.)
The new course is the brainchild of The Eyre Highway Operators Association (EHOA), a retail-based community organization. EHOA is seeking to promote tourism and business in the towns and communities across the region.
The Eyre Highway is a tourist destination in and of itself for rugged travelers who want to experience the desolate beauty of Australia's true outback. The land is too arid for grass, so each green is artificial and sand, grit and gravel make up the rest of the course. The Nullarbor Links promises golfers "the quintessential Australian experience" but industry experts are not convinced.
"It's the most god-awful piece of dirt in the world," said Graeme Archer, the managing director of The Australia Travel Co. "As a publicity stunt [the course] is brilliant but the reality is that much of the highway is flat as a pancake, straight as an arrow and boring as hell."
Australian tourism has been hit hard by the recent economic recession. Nullarbor Links is a long way to go for golf when there are courses all over Australia. Golf legend Greg Norman has already designed nine courses here and has plans for at least six more.
But EHOA does have the support of major international investors such as British Petroleum and Schweppes and the stamp of approval from the Australian Government's Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.
Playing Golf With Wombats for Company
"One of the holes is right smack bang in the middle of a sheep station," Alf Caputo, Nullarbor Links project manager, told the Australian news site Perth Now. "You can actually see the sheep. You can see the shearing shed. You can imagine international tourists will have never seen anything like this in their lives."
Caputo said he expects tourists from all over the world will come to play golf and see what he calls the "real Australia."
Just be prepared to share the course with a wombat or two.