King Island now has two of the best golf courses in Australia, one of which is considered one of the best in the world, carved out of windy dunes and former cattle country in Bass Strait.

Story + Photos Ken Eastwood

Martin Rose is standing on a high point – the 14th tee of the gorgeous Ocean Dunes golf course on King Island, Bass Strait. With a wild wind slamming into his face, he’s looking at a 180-degree vista of rolling coastline and the Southern Ocean beyond. But his eyes are focused just a short distance away, on a manicured green way down below, which is surrounded by a thick sea of waist-high native grasses and club rush. “Depending on the wind, this shot can be a sand wedge or a three-iron,” he says. “I even used a 7 wood once.”

King Island, on Bass Strait’s west side, may only be home to 1600 residents, but it now holds Cape Wickham, Australia’s best public access golf course (according to The Golf Course Guide), Ocean Dunes (rated Australia’s fourth-best public access course) and another older 12-hole course known as the Golfie, with many of the same dramatic features. The two new courses, which each were developed from 2013 and opened 18 holes in 2016, are bringing plane-loads of tourists to the island, with visitor numbers up by 20 percent in some months. 

Perhaps more like wild links-style courses on the coast of Scotland, the stunning sites include rolling grassed dunes, with greens and tees built on seemingly precarious points above the sea. Occasionally wet by sea spray, golfers smack balls over sprawling pink-flowering pigface to find luxurious fairways among thickets of saltbush, boxthorn and wind-bashed melaleucas, and greens that have to be kept with longer grass than many courses to stop the balls blowing around.

This story excerpt is from Issue #118

Outback Magazine: April/May 2018