Continuing the story of driving a Tesla Model 3 SR+ 3000 km from Brisbane to Winton Queensland, here’s a second part of the journey.
After careful planning and a few weeks of nervous anticipation (fearing that covid lockdown may yet be reimposed), we set off on the first part of our trip to Winton. We were pleased to see 10 other Tesla Model 3s on the highway between Brisbane and our first charging stop — the Tesla Superchargers at Gympie 166 km away. A pleasant though slow drive, as there are many roadworks on this stretch of highway.
Whilst recharging in the shopping centre’s underground car park, I noticed a woman pushing a large car — dad was at the wheel, two children were in the back, and mum was trying to push start the car. It was an old commodore 6 cylinder, and the battery had died, I was informed. But it was okay because they parked it on a hill at home — didn’t seem to worry about the underground car park being on the flat. I, of course, went to help. It was like the good old days when my cars occasionally got a flat battery.
They got going and were very grateful. Later that day, as we faced many challenges with charging, we were also grateful for the kindness of strangers.
First challenge: We finished charging and got a message on the screen saying that our credit card had expired and we needed to update our card details. “Supercharger network is unavailable.” On a positive note, at least we had a full charge – this issue could be resolved later. We just had to put up with the continuous nagging of the message on the screen. From now on, we would be charging on the Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH), as there were no more Tesla Superchargers on our route.
We set off for the next charging spot at Childers (142 km), but there was a Kona charging there. They had not logged it with PlugShare, so we had no way of contacting them. It was okay, though — we knew what we were doing. We’d be right to get to Gin Gin (only another 54 km) and charge on their QESH station. Research on the web had not informed us that we had to download the app or how to pay for our charge. There were instructions on the charger and we followed them, downloading the app (using very slow country internet) and following the instructions, which said to hold the phone near the charger. That didn’t work. In the end, we rang the help line and a wonderfully patient and kind young lady walked us through. She ended up running the charger remotely and we got a full charge. Off we went again.
We thought we’d better keep topping up, so we stopped at Miriam Vale. Once again, the charger would not work. We said some naughty words and decided we should chance it getting to Rockhampton (another 170 km to go) with the battery running low. Stress levels were high as we approached Mt Larcom and spotted another QESH charger. By now, the car was nagging us about finding a charger and we thought we might not make it (another 76 km).
We had a similar experience and again we were dependent on a helpful lady many miles away to remotely turn on the charger for us. Little did we know that it would not be until we had used the app four times that it would work. Chargefox has a lot to learn from the Tesla Supercharger network. However, the cost was low — $11.00 for 400 km of driving.
We arrived in Rockhampton that evening with electricity remaining in the car’s battery, the reassurance of a destination charger, and the prospect of food and a good night’s sleep at the Best Western Stirling Motel.
What we learned: No matter how well you plan, things will go wrong. Check your credit cards, download the necessary apps, be patient, help others. Driving over 100 km per hour and using air-conditioning really reduces your range. Also, Tess is very good at nagging.
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