Fancy a long weekend away from the big smoke? Senior writer Rohan Clarke sought advice from regional golf clubs about how to maximise a lifestyle-inspired vacation.

Taking a Friday off work and escaping to the bush for a holiday should be a national pastime. It’s ever more appealing with so many wonderful golf courses in the regions. But where to start? Australian Golf Digest contacted regional clubs across the country to get their opinion on how to mix top-shelf golf and tourism attractions for a weekend away with a difference.

Like playing a round of links golf in Port Fairy and visiting The Twelve Apostles on Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast. Or tackling Noosa Springs on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast before relaxing with a ‘Thermal Suite’ massage at the resort’s day spa inspired by ancient Roman baths. Or a leisurely afternoon hit at Sandy Creek in the Barossa Valley before imbibing a glass of semillon on the clubhouse deck overlooking the course.


Peppers Moonah Links Resort (98km south of Melbourne)

Peter Thomson’s Open course at Peppers Moonah Links Resort on the Mornington Peninsula holds the distinction of the only regional golf facility to twice host the Australian Open. Ross Perrett’s accompanying Legends course takes centre stage this November when it co-hosts the Victorian PGA Championship for the fourth time.

With sumptuous accommodation, the Peppers resort is an ideal base from which to play all 10 peninsula courses ranked in Australia’s Top 100 Courses: Moonah Links (x2), The National Golf Club (x3), The Dunes, St Andrews Beach, Portsea, Sorrento and RACV Cape Schanck.

It would be remiss to simply focus on golf when visiting the Mornington Peninsula. The clever folks at Visit Victoria have created an ‘Arts + Heritage Trail’ and ‘Wine Food Farmgate Trail’. For liquor connoisseurs, the ‘Beer, Cider + Spirits Trail’ has 18 pitstops stretching from Carrum Downs to St Andrews Beach (visit

Flinders Golf Club (101km south of Melbourne)

Legend has it Peter Thomson would practise at Flinders Golf Club on the Mornington Peninsula prior to his annual pilgrimages to Britain for the Open Championship. Although short by modern standards (5,277 metres, par 69), the seaside layout has the fast-running couch fairways and omnipresent breezes that are a feature of British links courses. For the $45 midweek green fee ($65 on weekends), it’s a treat to tread the fairways once graced by the five-time Open champion.

Port Fairy Golf Links  (290km west of Melbourne)

Making the three-hour journey from Melbourne is well worth the effort to tackle Port Fairy Golf Links. Ranked No.55 among Australia’s Top 100, Port Fairy has drawn favourable comparisons with the great links courses of Britain. Routed through natural sand dunes on the coast of the Southern Ocean, ever-varying weather makes Port Fairy a much more formidable challenge than suggested by the scorecard (5,887 metres, par 72). In tandem with Warrnambool Golf Club, Port Fairy has become a star attraction on Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast made famous by The Twelve Apostles limestone formations.

Murray Downs Golf & Country Club (350km north-west of Melbourne)

At 3.5 hours to reach Swan Hill from Melbourne (or 5.5 hours from Adelaide), it leaves ample time for a leisurely afternoon round at Murray Downs Golf & Country Club in north-western Victoria. Swan Hill boasts more sunny days per year than the Gold Coast with average daily temperatures of 23°C.

Murray Downs Resort has 50 self-contained apartments from which to explore Swan Hill. Fishing is a popular pursuit and local bait-and-tackle shops rent equipment to reel in the iconic Murray  cod. The Pioneer Settlement is another attraction for its portrayal of life on the Murray (1830-1930), paddle-steamer cruises and nightly laser shows.

Curlewis Golf Club (88km south-west of Melbourne)

Entrepreneurs Lyndsay and David Sharp have capitalised on their hospitality knowledge to create a special experience at Curlewis Golf Club on the Bellarine Peninsula. The winery and cider brewery owners (Leura Park Estate, Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Yes Said The Seal and Flying Brick Cider Co.) have resurrected the embattled club as a play-and-stay destination.

Initially, the Sharps commissioned Mike Clayton to renovate the Curlewis course. The pair then built The Range @ Curlewis – an $8 million entertainment complex with 18 driving bays, Toptracer technology, X-Golf simulators, mini-golf and a dining area. Since then they’ve invested $20 million on a new clubhouse and 60-room on-site motel. With spectacular golf-course vistas, the clubhouse precinct has provided the peninsula with premium golf lodging (

The Sebel Yarrawonga/Black Bull Golf Course (274km north of Melbourne)

The opening of The Sebel Yarrawonga has provided the Murray River with a flagship hotelier to accompany the outstanding Black Bull Golf Course. The Sebel Yarrawonga won best Luxury Lakeside Resort in Australia at the 2022 World Luxury Hotel Awards. The 5-star hotel forms part of a new $35 million recreational hub at the Silverwoods residential community. Golfers are spoilt for choice when it comes to unwinding after a round on the Thomson/Perrett layout ranked No.73 on Australia’s Top 100. There are options aplenty from sipping a cool beverage alongside the infinity-edge pool, receiving a massage at the SOL Wellness retreat or exploring Rutherglen’s wineries.

Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club (274km north of Melbourne)

Three hours from Melbourne on the NSW side of the Murray River, Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort is Australia’s largest public-access golf complex with its 45 holes. The Murray course (6,095 metres, par 72) is routed through creeks and towering river red gums while the Lake (5,965 metres, par 72) has strategically placed bunkers and water hazards. The nine-hole Executive course (2,248 metres, par 33) is ideal for beginners and less-accomplished players.

However it would be inappropriate to label Yarrawonga Mulwala as just a golf facility ( The family-orientated resort has a massage centre, cinema, swimming pool, lawn bowls and croquet while the clubhouse dining has an interactive play area for kids with TVs and gaming consoles. It boasts nine different styles of accommodation from six-person villas to twin suites.


Cypress Lakes Resort (162km north of Sydney)

A multi-pronged facelift of Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort has refreshed the iconic property that put the Hunter Valley on the map as a golf-and-wine destination. Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites is funding a complete renovation of the lobby, bar and bistro at the 300-villa resort, which hosts TPS Hunter Valley on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

The conditioning of Cypress Lakes has improved immeasurably in recent years under the maintenance team led by Craig Molloy who received the turf industry’s Excellence In Golf Course Management award in 2021. Before departing to take over as course superintendent at Barwon Heads, Molloy implemented a new bunker-drainage system as part of a storage/irrigation project that collects/recycles more than 7.5 million litres of stormwater.

The Vintage (161km north of Sydney)

The triple treat of golf, wellness and wine-tasting is an enticing mix at The Vintage in the Hunter Valley, where guests have a variety of accommodation options. A spa suite at the Chateau Elan hotel allows guests to fully indulge in pampering, massage and hydrotherapy treatments. Chateau Elan also has Mediterranean-themed villa apartments. Alternatively, Grand Mercure has 12 self-contained apartments (each with kitchenette) adjacent to the clubhouse and restaurant. The Vintage Holiday Houses are another terrific option to explore Pokolbin’s cellar-door vineyards and restaurant scene after tacking the dramatic Greg Norman/Bob Harrison course ranked No.51 on Australia’s Top 100.

Pacific Dunes (182km north of Sydney)

Beautiful Santa Ana couch fairways and pure bent greens are highlights at Pacific Dunes, the epicentre of a residential golf community at Medowie in Port Stephens, two hours and 15 minutes from Sydney. James Wilcher designed a visually demanding course, which is a tale of two distinctive nines. The front side is carved through native bushland and the back nine features water on every hole.

Along with water sports, Port Stephens lures tourists for whale and dolphin-watching all-year round. For those seeking a little more adventure, hiring a quad bike in the sand dunes off Stockton Beach has become extraordinarily popular. Port Stephens has plenty of eating options from The Greenhouse at Pacific Dunes to fine dining in ‘The Bay’ area at Rick Stein’s Bannisters, Mavericks On The Bay and Little Beach Boathouse. While Pacific Dunes doesn’t have on-site accommodation, the club manages the play-and-stay booking process by partnering with local providers.

Wauchope Country Club (371km north of Sydney)

Two years after flooding devastated Wauchope Country Club on the NSW Mid-North Coast, the hidden gem 20 kilometres west of Port Macquarie has returned to its best. The bentgrass greens on the par-71 layout stretching 5,866 metres have recovered in the aftermath of some of the region’s worst weather in more than 50 years. Tourist attractions in the Wauchope/Port Macquarie/Laurieton area include Bago Maze and Wine, Old Bottlebutt, Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries and Timbertown.

Calderwood Valley Golf Course (106km south of Sydney)

Twenty minutes south of Wollongong, Calderwood Valley Golf Course in the shadows of the Illawarra Escarpment is one of regional Australia’s prettiest layouts with its creeks, garden beds, bridges and pergolas. With no members, competition rounds or clubhouse, Calderwood is marketed as the Illawarra’s only exclusively public golf course.

Since opening in 1995 it’s acquired a devoted following among locals with a mission statement “to ensure Calderwood Valley Golf Course is an enjoyable and affordable place to play golf and socialise”. It lives up to the declaration by offering a $30 midweek green fee ($36 on weekends). Twilight golf after 2pm is priced at $22. It even offers a full refund if fewer than four holes are played due to bad weather.

Noosa Springs’ wellness retreat will have you coming back for more.


Noosa Springs Resort (160km north of Brisbane)

An exquisite wellness retreat is a splendid accompaniment to the golf at Noosa Springs Resort on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Inspired by ancient Roman baths, the day spa features unique hydro-massage and flotation pools, infrared sauna, steam room, blitz shower and treatment suites. The ‘Thermal Suite Experience’ uses strong underwater jets to massage different parts of the body.

It’s an ideal way to relax after a round on the Graham Papworth layout, which has been routed around a Mediterranean-themed residential precinct with its charming terracotta-tiled rooftops. The resort also has a modern-Australian restaurant and 20 two-bedroom apartments, each with ensuite, full kitchen, laundry and balcony overlooking the course. Elsewhere, chef Peter Kuruvita’s ALBA restaurant/cooking school is located just across the road from Noosa Springs, which is three kilometres from the Hastings St dining/shopping precinct. Active types may wish to explore Noosa National Park for a hike hugging the coastline for 20 minutes or up to four hours.

Mount Isa Golf Club (1,826km north-west of Brisbane)

Mount Isa Golf Club is basking in the limelight after staging the series finale of the Outback Queensland Masters. Mount Isa was the final leg of the six-week tournament that encourages golfers to visit remote Queensland towns like St George, Cunnamulla, Quilpie, Richmond and Karumba (

At Mount Isa, more than 140 golfers were greeted by an oasis of manicured turf on tees, fairways and greens as a result of the club’s multi-year vision to fully irrigate the 5,827-metre, par-72 layout. All the more reason to visit Mount Isa, which is celebrating the town’s centenary since the discovery of vast mineral deposits.

Tin Can Bay Country Club (216km north of Brisbane)

Located 2.5 hours north of Brisbane, Tin Can Bay Country Club is flourishing with a dedicated superintendent and a new irrigation system currently being installed at a cost of $1.4 million. With subtle undulations and forgiving fairways, the Tin Can Bay course (5,666 metres, par 72) is ideal for holidaymakers venturing to the quaint fishing village in the Gympie Region. The club’s authentic Chinese restaurant is ideal for a post-round review.

The Cooloola Coast is famous for white sandy beaches and safe waterways. Tin Can Bay is one of two locations in Queensland where you can hand-feed Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. As many as 100 people queue every morning to feed the dolphins in knee-deep water at the boat ramp near Barnacles Dolphin Centre.

Tropics Golf Club (1,350km north of Brisbane)

Tropics Golf Club in Townsville is benefitting from an injection of funds by new management. Buildit Property Group recently spent $280,000 on repairing the irrigation system, weed removal and greens renovation as the club embarks on a course masterplan. Another $50,000 has been spent on refurbishing the clubhouse.

The Tropics course is renowned for its water features and an abundance of wildlife, including freshwater crocodiles. For a friendlier encounter, tourists can take a 20-minute boat ride to Magnetic Island where more than 800 koalas reside. Other activities include visiting the Great Barrier Reef, hiring a charter boat for barramundi fishing in the Coral Sea, attending an air show at RAAF Base Townsville and watching a Cowboys NRL game.


Kalgoorlie Golf Course (595km east of Perth)

The spectacular Graham Marsh-designed Kalgoorlie Golf Course is ample reason to make the six-hour trek along the Great Eastern Highway from Perth (alternatively a 65-minute flight). Kalgoorlie is a genuine ‘desert’ course that’s renowned for the bold contrast between the lush playing surfaces and ochre pigment of the arid wasteland. On-course accommodation will be available once Kalgoorlie DoubleTree Hilton (128 rooms) opens in mid-2024.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a city every Australian should visit at least once in a lifetime ( The city’s economy has been driven by gold since 1893. Burt and Hannan streets are two of WA’s most significant streetscapes, lined with historic colonial architecture and federation-era pubs. A popular attraction is the ‘Super Pit’ – which was Australia’s largest open-cut gold mine – to witness its twice-daily blasts. Also popular is Mount Charlotte Reservoir Lookout for sunset views over the city.


Sandy Creek Golf Club (62km north-east of Adelaide)

At the gateway to the Barossa Valley lies the charming Sandy Creek Golf Club, a volunteer-run course known for mobs of eastern grey kangaroos, native gums and panoramic views over South Australia’s world-famous wine region. Established in 1904, Sandy Creek rebranded from its previous name of Gawler Golf Club to avoid confusion with a par-3 course. The 6,030-metre, par-72 layout has exceptional drainage due to the sandy soil base.

The club actively encourages juniors – children under the age of 12 play for free at Sandy Creek where the green fee is a relatively modest $40 ($50 Saturday, $45 Sunday). The clubhouse deck overlooking the course is perfect for a post-round thirst quencher from club sponsors Laughing Jack Wines, God’s Hill Wines and Greenock Brewers.