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Tesla Tripping to Winton to See the Dinosaurs

I have answered the question many times: “But where do you charge?” and confidently, I have said — “at any power point — you know, like a toaster.” Well, I was wrong; our trip to Winton in Central Queensland put our car, and our nerves, to the test. It wasn’t quite as easy as I thought. Brisbane, Winton, and return is about 3000 km. 

Our cruise was cancelled and we were sick of being stuck at home, so we decided to head west. Unlike all the other grey nomads, however, we were driving an EV. We were quite confident of charging options along the coast but weren’t too sure how we would go once we left the Queensland Electric Highway and headed towards Winton. We wanted to see the dinosaurs. As you can see above, we did succeed, had a great time, and have returned to Brisbane.

Our Tesla Model 3 SR+ had a stated range of 350 km, so we planned our charging stops meticulously. From Brisbane to Rockhampton was about 600 km north. We planned to charge at Gympie (166 km) using the Tesla Supercharger, then at the QESH charger at Gin Gin (180 km), and again at Miriam Vale (95 km). At Rockhampton we had a destination charger at the Best Western Stirling hotel — sweet. Things didn’t quite work out that way, as I will explain in a later article.

From Rocky, we planned to travel west to Emerald (271 km). Surely, this would be an easy reach when the car was fully charged and showed a range of 350 km? Nevertheless, just to be on the safe side, we planned a stop at McKenzie Park 111 km down the road. This is in the town of Duaringa. The PlugShare app told us there was a 15 amp power point available.

The Emerald Comfort Inn hotel also had a destination charger. So we didn’t expect any problems. From Emerald, the next stop was Barcaldine 302 km west. This was a bit too tight, so I found a friendly publican in the tiny town of Alpha who said he had a 15 amp power point we could access.

Barcaldine Country Motor Inn had a destination charger — so no worries charging up there. Barcaldine to Winton is 286 km, so should be able to cover that with more than 10% to spare. The owner of the Banjo’s Holiday Inn units said he had a 15 amp socket we could access. Having four days in Winton meant there would be no problems getting a full charge.

What we didn’t know — that driving at 102 km/ h with the air conditioning on down the highway chews through about 20% more electricity than the range display indicated. You need to download an app to use the Queensland Electric Superhighway (QESH). Our credit card had expired and we needed to update the details to use the Tesla Supercharger. PlugShare isn’t always up to date!

What we learned: 1) Even careful planning won’t always work! 2) The tyranny of distance can be overcome by the kindness of strangers.

 
 
 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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