Nullabor Desert (2017)

Outback, worlds longest golf course, roadhouses, time problems

On the way to the Outback - First desert golf course

We drive the 395 km from Esperance to Kalgoorlie quite relaxed in northern direction on the "Goldfields Highway". Extensive farmland and a vast forest area offer some variety to the eye. The closer we get to our destination, the more often roads branch off to various mines. The number of "roadtrains", huge trucks with 2 trailers and a length of up to 53 m, increases significantly. When they pass us, the wind bow wave always pushes us a meter to the side. Overtaking is a bit ticklish. You can't pass that fast!

The first bigger town is Norseman, where we make a short stop at the tourist office. The founder of the town, a gold prospector named Sinclair, named it after his horse, because the horse uncovered a large gold nugget while digging with its hooves.

In general, everything in this area revolves around gold. All the settlements were established 140 years ago as a result of extensive gold discoveries. To date, over 5 million ounces of gold have been mined in Norseman. This puts it in second place in Western Australia.

In Kalgoorlie, 160 km north, we try to play the golf course first. It is over 35 degrees hot and extremely humid. Therefore, it is very convenient for us that the operators have offered a "special" for this day, which includes a cart in addition to a greatly reduced green fee. The course, which was only built in 2011, is laid out in a flawless "desert layout" with 6 tee boxes each. Outside the tee boxes, the fairways and the strongly undulated greens there is only "waste area": sand with sparse bushes and eucalyptus trees. The state of maintenance is fantastic. The goal of the operators is to get into the "Top 10 desert courses" worldwide. The course is very difficult, our results accordingly modest. Countless kangaroos graze on the fairways or relax in the bunkers.

In the evening a bad weather front moves in with stormy winds, heavy rain and a drop in temperature to 15 degrees. 


Kalgoorlie-Boulder - Gold and nothing but gold

The history of Kalgoorlie begins in 1893, when 3 wandering Irishmen wanted to replace a horseshoe of their horse at this very place. In the process, they stumbled across 100 ounces of gold nuggets. The following gold rush was the cause for the emergence of Kalgoorlie and the neighboring town of Boulder. In 1989, the two towns were merged into one municipality, and to this day they remain one of the largest gold mining towns in the world.

Both towns present themselves architecturally in the centers with beautifully restored or preserved facades from the gold rush era.

On closer inspection, many vacant buildings cannot be overlooked. Upon inquiry, we learn that Kalgoorlie's main mine, the Superpit, will be completely exploited in 2021. The future of the city is therefore rather not rosy.

We visit the Superpit, a gigantic open pit mine on the outskirts of the city. The "hole" is 3.5 km long, 1.6 km wide and 620 m deep. It is impressive to see the giant trucks crawling up with the ore from the hole.

Many of the miners come from far away and live in the motels or in the caravan parks, often in caravans. This does not seem to be without problems. Posters in the pubs warning of depression and suicide and offering addresses for psychological counseling were conspicuous.

Kalgoorlie - where it all begins

Faithful readers of our blog will now realize that Kalgoorlie including golf has already been covered. The first two holes of the Kalgoorlie Golf Course are also holes 1 (CY O'Connor, par 4, 319m) and 2 (Golden Mile, par 5, 450m) of Nullabor Links Golf course. On the information boards, in addition to the usual golf information such as course course, length, par, there is also a text about the naming and the corresponding historical background printed.

Sabine started furiously with a par and followed it up with a bogey. I could only note double bogey and bogey. But many people before us seem to have done much worse. The lady in the office, which confirmed us the results by stamp was anyway quite taken.

5 holes in 380 kilometers

60 km south are holes 1 and 2 at Kambalda Golf Club our holes 3 and 4 at Nullabor Links. Green fee for 18 holes on this course: $5. Still, we don't play it. Hole 3 is called "Silver Lake", named after the world famous salt lake nearby, where world record attempts with racing cars etc. have been run. After struggling along the 395 meters, a black green awaits us. Instead of grass, a fine black sand is used there. There is no one to be seen in the clubhouse. We need our stamp. So we ring the bell at the only house nearby. The resident is a bit annoyed, tells us that he has nothing to do with it and that the stamp is in a box behind the clubhouse. We are certainly not the first to knock on his door.

On we go to Norseman, from where I have already reported above. Here, too, holes 1 and 2 are played. A novelty: There are green greens made of artificial turf. Even with pre-green in a darker shade of green. Nice for the eye but very difficult to play. They are as hard as concrete and as fast as an arrow. The largest eucalyptus forest in the world stretches around the course.

Hole 7, "Sheeps Back" is a bit off the road on "Frazers Range". We drop our original plan to spend the night here because of the heavy rain, drive to Balladonia and finish the day after 380 km with 2 double bogeys at hole 8 "Skylab".

We (actually Sabine) cook for the first time on the 2-burner gas stove and the microwave in the car. The campground has no "Communal kitchen" and in the Roadhouse, where we treat ourselves to two small bottles of "Coopers Sparkling Ale" for $16, we see the food coming out of the kitchen. Sabine can do that better! Stirfry Vegetables with Beef Strips. Yum. In addition a bottle of Jakobs Creek Pinot Grigio and the evening is saved, despite rain and max. 15 degrees.

A lived road movie

For today largely dry weather is predicted.

Watching TV at the Roadhouse, where by the way we visit a museum founded on the occasion of the crash site of the first Skylab, a few kilometers away. Watching TV, we learn that Australia is currently experiencing the wettest summer since 1922. We see pictures of our former campsite in Perth, where the caravans are up to their axles in water, hear that there is a three-day power outage stretching from Perth to Bunburry.

I hereby take back the "complaints" I made on the occasion of the rain and the cool temperatures at that time!

To reach the next golf-hole we have to follow the highway straight for 90 miles. Not the slightest curve! After that this track got its name.

Then we continue to Eagles Nest in the usual rut. 

The last golf-track in Western Australia is "Nullarbor Nymph". Why it's called that is written on the sign. It is located on a sports ground with a golf course and a clay pigeon shooting range. Because it is so beautifully dilapidated, I have photographed it for you. Every now and then lonely Harley riders (without golf-clubs) overtake us as we ride through the countryside.

To the first track in South Australia we are greeted by a huge kangaroo. 184 km further on we try "Dingos Den". Sabine has to pause for a moment because the fairway is crossed by a runway and a small airplane wants to take off. Airplanes have right of way over golfers!

On the way we take a small detour to have a look at the cliffs in the "Great Australian Bight". Impressive!

According to the description, 144 km further, at the "Wombat Hole" you should get to see wombats from time to time. We saw only garbage. Car tires, broken glass, beer cans and all kinds of plastic waste. That spoiled our fun a bit here. 

In Penong, the home of the windmills (why there are so many, we could not find out) we liked it again much better.

Only 70 km later we finally reach Ceduna, where the two final holes are to be played. For a change, once again on black "sand greens". We receive our certificates the next morning at the tourist office and the lady confirms that we are in the front range with our, actually very modest score (99 and 101). Most players are around 130 - 140 strokes. That reconciles us a bit.

Unfortunately, we have to give away all our fruit and vegetables here. South Australia is trying to prevent the fruit fly from being brought in from West Australia.