Living in Tasmania stories
Links courses shape up on island
King Island’s two major new golf courses are taking shape in a development trend that could rival Hydro Tasmania’s proposed TasWind project as an economic game-changer for the remote Bass Strait community.
Links courses 25km apart at Cape Wickham and near Currie are expected to draw well-heeled golf tourists from around the world and complement the hugely successful Barnbougle and Lost Farm links courses near Bridport in north-east Tasmania.
And Australian golf legend Greg Norman has islanders speculating about a possible third course after making several visits.
One of Norman’s businesses develops international standard courses around the world.
The developer of the Ocean Dunes course near Currie, Graeme Grant, told The Sunday Tasmanian in April that he would welcome a third new course on the island.
“[Norman’s] presence on the island would have a massive beneficial impact and having a third course operating would make it that much more of a destination,” Mr Grant said.
Ocean Dunes has a $7 million budget and is steadily taking shape as a small construction team works on the difficult rocky holes near the seashore. The inland holes on former farming country will be easier.
“I’m standing on the fourth green and it’s got water in front, behind and to the right … it’s phenomenal and not many people would get the opportunity to build on this sort of land,” Mr Grant said.
The $12 million Cape Wickham development, designed by American golf architect Mike DeVries, has a working title of King Island Golf Links.
It’s being built at the northern tip of the island amid stunning scenery crowned by the 50-metre Cape Wickham Lighthouse – Australia’s tallest. The lighthouse will dominate views from the closing holes and from the clubhouse.
Mr DeVries, who relocated his family to the Bass Strait island while overseeing the project, has designed eight holes to run along the shipwreck-strewn west coast, with another two greens positioned on the shoreline.
“The combination of the Cape Farewell headland, Victoria Cove, Cape Wickham Lighthouse, views to the ocean and shorelines, as well as the prospect of direct golfer interaction with the water makes this the most amazing site I have witnessed, existing or imagined,” Mr DeVries said.
Twelve of the 18 holes have been grassed and the course is expected to be complete by July. It will operate as a public course and eventually include accommodation for stay-and-play tourists.
Initial investment in the project is $12 million and it coexists with a mutton bird sanctuary that will provide a unique experience for golfers during the breeding season.
Project consultant Darius Oliver said: “Our aim is to put King Island on the golfing map, and we are confident that Mike can help us deliver a genuine world-class course.”
Developers of the two courses don’t anticipate any problems if the $2 billion Hydro Tasmania wind farm also proceeds on the island. The TasWind project is subject to a feasibility study and a second round of community consultation.
Golfing tourists will be able to travel to the island by air from Tullamarine or Moorabbin airports in Melbourne, or from Launceston or Burnie-Wynyard airports in Tasmania.
A trend for golfers to travel to play, the popularity of golf in Asia and growing Asian tourism to Tasmania are all expected to help fuel a golden triangle of premium Australian coastal golfing experiences encompassing Melbourne, King Island and Bridport.
In Tasmania’s south, a $15 million coastal course is planned for the tip of South Arm, south-east of Hobart. The site is a nature reserve over-looking Ralph’s Bay and the River Derwent.
Developers plan to use a quarter of the site for the golf course, add walking trails, cycle-ways and picnic spots, enabling the natural qualities of the landscape to shine through.
It can be reached by road in about 40 minutes from Hobart or via a 15-minute ferry trip and would give golf-minded tourists an excellent reason to travel out of the capital.
A second $15 million proposal put forward for Seven Mile Beach, near Hobart airport, would include two 18-hole courses, plus a mini-layout for children.
On a narrow beach-fringed spit planted with radiata pine, the 300ha project would also include 216 private residences, a conference centre, shops, tourist accommodation and restaurants.
It has been opposed by a local group and on the basis of their objections the Clarence City Council has declined to alter zoning to enable the project to proceed.
The proponents, including Tasmanian professional golfer Matthew Goggin, are considering an appeal.
1 May 2014, Edition 149