For those of you who have just joined us, this is the middle of a saga about driving from Brisbane on the coast of Queensland 1500 km to the inland town of Winton in a Tesla Model 3 SR+. Earlier articles are available in my author archives. In this leg, we’re going from Winton to Longreach to Barcaldine in Queensland.
We left Winton on that Sunday morning with a full battery — 350 km (217 mile) range. But Tess lies like a politician. Halfway to Longreach (about 90 km into our 290 km leg), the car started telling us we wouldn’t make it to Barcaldine. Remember, we had driven the other way just a few days ago and the car did make it. We couldn’t work out what the problem was, but we dutifully turned off the air conditioning and drove 90 km/h (in a 110 km/h zone). Just as well — there was very little traffic on the road. Those who were on the road passed us easily, and I wondered what must be going through their heads: “I thought those Tesla cars were supposed to be fast!!” The range prediction didn’t get any better.
Later, when checking the weather, we found that we had been driving into a 40 km/h headwind. Meanwhile, we had to find some charging in the next town, Longreach. PlugShare was no help, as there was nothing listed. We rang the information centre and two caravan parks. Only one answered the phone. He had a cousin who owns a Tesla. This cousin had bought shares and made millions. “This is great,” I thought, “he will be understanding.” But no, he wanted $29 for two hours of charging — about $2 worth of electricity. No thanks. Then he wanted to keep chatting about his problems at the caravan park. Sorry mate, I’ve got problems of my own — I need to find a place to charge.
We dropped in at the information centre where the lovely manager looked all around the building but couldn’t find an external power point. So we went around to the other caravan park (the one we hadn’t spoken to, and who hadn’t returned our phone call). Going through our minds were various backup plans — staying overnight, a very expensive option at $240 a night; driving to Ilfracombe, but not sure where we could charge there either. Of course, there was the obvious: arriving in Barcaldine on the back of a tow truck after waiting many hours on the side of the road.
Then, we found a very helpful Māori lady at the desk at the Longreach Tourist Park. Yes, they had room. Yes, we could use a powered site. And yes, we could charge our car. Yay! Once again, the tyranny of distance (and strong headwinds) was overcome by the kindness of strangers. So, we walked into town with 2 hours to enjoy the delights of Longreach.
Coffee, food, and service were great at the Merino Bakery and the prices were reasonable. After lunch, we dropped into Outback Pioneer Tours to look at their historic building and artifacts. As usual, I told the manager I was a writer for CleanTechnica and was writing up my Tesla journey. We had the most interesting conversation about Brazil. Yes, the manager and his wife were from Brazil. His cousin’s children attend an exclusive school in Brazil and need extra security because of the possibility of kidnapping. So, of course we talked about the Cybertruck being bullet proof. He wants one!
Time to walk back to the car (we certainly did our 10,000 steps that day) and head off for Barcaldine. The wind hadn’t dropped and now we had tumbleweeds to contend with. It was like being in a bowling alley with giant kangaroos tossing hundreds of large grey balls across the road. We were still hypermiling and made it to our motel (and our destination charger) in the red.
Going for my walk after dinner, I noticed a trailer parked next to the motel and realized that there were worse possibilities than running out of charge. Two thousand litres of flammable liquid would make for quite a bang.