An EV Holiday

I thought I would write a little report of our journey so far from the perspective of travelling with an electric car. So if such things don’t interest you, probably stop reading now.

We are travelling from Canberra to Airlie Beach via the M1 which is approximately 2280km. It is not the shortest route up the East Coast but it is the most populated and, so far, it is really the only option for electric cars. As far north as Gympie in Queensland (Gympie is about the 4th dot north of Brisbane on the map below), there are Tesla Superchargers every 200 kilometres. One of the amazing things about our Tesla (and I assume all Teslas) is their incredibly accurate range prediction and their excellent satellite maps (which, best of all, are updated over the internet with no inconvenience to us whatsoever). So the first 1300 kms were pretty easy because the car knew where the chargers were and, as long as we told it where we were aiming for and what stops we wanted, it could plan the route and the charging for us.

A lot of people with petrol cars think that the charging takes hours and makes your journey so much longer. The superchargers are very quick. We stop for 15 – 25 minutes once or twice in a day where we travel 400–600 kms. Honestly, it’s hardly enough time to have a cup of coffee. And, on a trip like ours, there is usually shopping to be done for some minor food item or for sunglasses because we’re going boating. So we have no trouble filling the time in.

To give you an idea of pricing, in Australia the Tesla power is 50c per kilowatt hour. With current petrol pricing in Australia (around $2.15 – $2.30 per litre) you are paying about 15 – 25c per kilometre. If you travel using only Tesla power, it’s about 10c per kilometre. But, around home, we never pay that much because we charge at home and we charge when electricity is cheapest. And, even on this trip, we have often managed to charge for free. On our first night in Sydney we stayed at a caravan park and were able to charge overnight. In Brisbane, the hotel allowed us to plug into a powerpoint in the underground carpark and we left Brisbane with a full “tank” at no extra cost than what we would have paid for accommodation anyway. And tonight, the hotel has a “destination” charger which is free so when we leave Rockhampton, we will again have a full 470 km tank at no extra cost.

Today was really the first day that we had to plan our own route. Now that we’ve run out of Tesla Superchargers, we’re using an App called Plugshare which tells us where all the chargers are. Between the Sunshine Coast (where we stayed last night) and Rockhampton, there were multiple chargers marked on the Plugshare Map (about one every 100 kms). Because we haven’t done much travelling, we chose 3 to stop at, knowing we didn’t need three but wanting to allow for one being too busy or one being out of order. In fact, we stopped at two – the first in a place called Gin Gin where we had lunch. We also stopped in Miriam Vale although we had plenty of charge left. This was to make sure the battery wasn’t crazy low when we arrived at our accommodation in Rockhampton. Batteries don’t like being left fully charged or fully discharged for long periods although the newer standard range Teslas have Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries which don’t care.

The power at Miriam Vale and Gin Gin was supplied by a company called Charge Fox. They sell their power for around 30c per kilowatt hour and their chargers are not as quick (lower ampage) so the stops are necessarily a little longer.

Miriam Vale turned out to be a lovely little town with a fabulous playground for the kids and a locally owned cafe right opposite for a caffeine addict like me. We easily filled 40 minutes there just relaxing and enjoying not being in the car. But instead of being in a smelly petrol station with ordinary coffee in a styrofoam cup, we were in a green park with good coffee in a ceramic mug. It was truly enjoyable.

So this trip has definitely been different. In 2018 we did this same trip in our Plug in Hybrid – a Mitsubishi Outlander. It only had about 50km range on its battery and we were towing a camper trailer so the efficiency was appalling. We were totally dependent on fuel and we went the more inland route because it was shorter. Even with petrol being the “normal” way to travel, we still ended up needing our spare jerry can when a whole series of fuel stations marked on the map were no longer functional.

So having set out on our self-planned day feeling slightly apprehensive, we met several Teslas on the same route using the same chargers and whose owners were quite blase about the long distances. They were Queenslanders and clearly trusted their cars’ range predictions implicitly and also trusted that charger availability was reliable.

All in all, travelling as a family long distance with an EV has been at least as pleasant as in any other car. I would actually suggest it has been more pleasant because the chargers are often in interesting locations. Some examples:

  • In the carpark of a winery where a helicopter with joy riders came in to land while the kids were climbing a Moreton Bay Fig tree in the winery’s park-like gardens.
  • Beside a country hotel in a tiny town on the Clarence River where we had an interesting conversation with the owner of the Antique Shop and her little dog, Peggy.
  • Beside the “Macadamia Castle” where we ended up spending significant money on locally grown Macadamia nuts.

As electric cars become more and more common, I assume the infrastructure for charging them will also grow and the options for where you might stop will increase and increase. Business owners will find that having charging stations available will increase their business, just as the restaurant at the winery did, or the people at Macadamia Castle.

It has been heartening for me to see the large numbers of electric vehicles already on the road, especially up here where the distances are great. The Australian government has not done a lot to support the EV industry so private enterprise and personal investment are largely to be thanked for the huge progress.

7 thoughts on “An EV Holiday

  1. That sounds like value for money, Wormsie. Very informative. Is that the park at Miriam Vale? If so, it has been upgraded since I was there last. My mother lives in Calliope, just north of there. I confess that I find that coast route particularly tedious. Hopefully the inland routes will become EV friendlier in future. I long for the day when batteries are so efficient that you can just pull out your solar panel and charge ‘er up.
    Have fun. Hope you see lots of whales.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tracy. Bits of it have been tedious but mainly due to roadworks or traffic jams (between the border and Brisbane was the worst). We really enjoyed the drive from Nambour to Rockhampton because we got a bit off the beaten track. It was slower but really beautiful country. Batteries are getting better and better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds wonderful. I haven’t done a really long drive for years. We thinking about taking a few months and taking the kids around Australia, but we can’t even get into Canberra without fighting in the back seat. So we’ll wait until they’re old enough to be left at home and go without them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes. Backseat brawls are a thing. 😉 Our two are pretty damn good but we have had to intervene occasionally. We have had this trip planned since 2019 (for 2020). So it’s kind of amazing that it has actually gone ahead this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like fun. If I had known you were at Ulmarra, I could have popped….well driven for a while….and said hello. Grafton has a charge station at the library if you stop n the way home? If not wave as you drive past 🙂


  4. We have an electric vehicle (not a Tesla) that we got last August and we’ve yet to take a really long trip in it. It does have a dashboard app that shows the locations of charging stations in various areas, and it allows us to map out a trip so that we can have access to quick charge stations along the way. Your trip sounds great!

    Liked by 1 person

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