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World's longest golf course planned in Australia

Outback councils have unveiled plans to open the world's largest golf course along the Eyre Highway.

The scheme will convert the Nullarbor Plain into a 1400km sandtrap.

Councils along the length of the Nullarbor, including Ceduna, have approved construction of the course. They hope it will induce tourists to slow down and appreciate what is regarded as one of the most desolate environments in Australia.

The plan is to build one hole at each of the 18 towns and roadhouses (petrol stations) dotted along the Nullarbor section of the Eyre Highway. Collectively, they would be known as Nullarbor Links.

There will be seven holes in South Australia, from Ceduna to the West Australian border.

Motorists will stop at a roadhouse, play a hole, then drive to the next hole - 100km down the road, in some cases.

The idea is the brainchild of Balladonia roadhouse manager Bob Bongiorno. It combined his love of golf with his hopes of boosting tourism.

"I brought my golf clubs when I first came out here seven years ago and tried hitting a few balls in the bush," he said yesterday. "I had to fight the spiders to get them back, so I gave it away." Mr Bongiorno said about 300 vehicles passed along the Eyre Highway each day.

Nullarbor Links would provide a unique golf experience and each stop on the course would promote a local treasure - from whale-watching just 500m from the highway, at Head of Bight to ancient fossil beds.

Mr Bongiorno's attraction in Balladonia is the site where the US Skylab satellite came crashing to Earth in 1979, attracting world attention.

"Even if people only play a few holes, it will break up their journey and give them the chance to say they've played on the world's biggest golf course," he said.

The roadhouse manager plans to build the world's largest golf ball in Balladonia to publicise the course. Dimensions are to be finalised.

Goldfields Tourism Association chairman Alf Caputo said local councils had agreed to use their equipment to create the dirt fairways and "greens" made of oiled sand.

Trial holes will be built in the next few months - the first at Balladonia - and the course is scheduled to open in 2006.

Mr Caputo had already received calls from tour operators wanting to offer clients a round of Outback golf.

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