Barcaldine to Alpha to Rubyvale & Emerald
It was a lovely relaxing drive out of Barcaldine and down the dusty road to Emerald. We had planned a couple of stops. We were definitely going to pay a visit to Dev in Alpha (141 km away) — have lunch and enjoy a beer. Maybe get a treat at the bakery. Despite the signs warning of wandering cattle, we had an uneventful trip to Alpha. At the pub we met Wayne who drives a Nissan X-Trail. He almost ran out of petrol on the way to Longreach. It cost him $95 to fill up. He wasn’t impressed when we told him we paid $10 for an equivalent amount of electricity.
Last time we were in Alpha, we had spoken to the owner of the general store and he was keen to put in a charging station to encourage EV tourism. So this time we mentioned it to the manager of the information center and she thought it might be a good idea to lobby the government for a charger as part of the Queensland Electric Superhighway.
All fueled up, we headed for Rubyvale (112 km) with plenty of charge to spare. That evening, many grey nomad couples walked past the car, looking, pointing, and chatting, but I was too tired to waylay them and bend their ears.
The next day was to be the highlight of the trip for my beloved wife, as she is a keen amateur gemologist. So, the next morning, we headed for the Miners’ Cottage to get a bag and do some fossicking. You put 10 kg of “wash” — river silt that has been buried and then mined — through a process of washing and sifting, then pick out your fortune in sapphires. I took on my Spanish alter ego — Manual Labore — and did the sifting and washing. Majella has the best eye and the most patience, so she picked out the gems.
Then it was time for scones and jam and chat. The boss of the wash was from New Zealand and we had a great chat how New Zealand was set to become the Norway of the pacific. The New Zealand government has no coal or gas industry to support, so there were no protests or lobbying when they set climate targets and brought in an $8000 subsidy to buy an electric car.
One couple came from the UK and the man was telling me he worked in coal-fired power stations till 1985. His station alone burned 20,000 tons a day, and there were 20 other stations along this coal alley. He used to worry about what he was putting in the air and whether the ground would subside across England one day. His station had 1.3 million tons of coal on standby in the yard because coal froze in coal rail cars in winter and they needed it loose to get it into the ovens (so it’s not just wind turbines in Texas). He left in 1985 as the UK was putting in sulphur scrubbers because of acid rain. I was living in England at the time and remember the trees dying and the women’s stockings melting. We have paid a high price for our power over the years. I did tell him to check out how the UK is rapidly transitioning to wind and solar.
That afternoon we visited the jewelry shops in Sapphire and had a great conversation with one owner. He admired the car and then said he was going to put in a charger to capture a bit more trade.
Off to Emerald tomorrow — a mere doddle at 62 km away.
Emerald to Rockhampton to Brisbane
Rubyvale to Emerald is a mere 62 km, so we had plenty of charge to visit Mike who had stayed with us in Brisbane during his apprenticeship training for small motors. He has graduated from that and now works on hydraulics in a large coal mine. He has turned out to be quite the inventor. His wood splitter powered by Honda won him an innovators prize. I hope he applies these ideas to electrify some of his inventions.
His property just outside Emerald is dotted with machines he has made. He enjoyed his ride in the Model 3, but the wife and kids were more enthusiastic. Wife Cassie was really impressed and raved about the pre-cooling feature. “You can overtake anything in this,” she said when Majella took her for a drive. The kids loved the acceleration and the toy box. They couldn’t stop giggling at fart mode. We told her about the Model Y and she is as keen as mustard.
Mike is a bit more stoic. He drives an Amarok Diesel. Even though the Model 3 is cheaper to run, he’ll stick with what he’s got.
The next day we set off for Rockhampton with a full charge. To avoid the dreaded yellow triangle of death, I planned to top up at the Dingo (124 km) caravan park. The manager was most gracious and allowed us to use a powered site. I told her I’d write it up and hope for some positive publicity. We picnicked on the grass beside the flower beds. It was a beautiful day only spoilt briefly by the smell of gas from the Origin truck refilling the tanks. What a contrast. It’s great not smelling any fumes as we charge the car.
We got to Rockhampton (another 148 km) just before school finished. The roads were full of mums in their big SUVs picking the kids up from school after idling outside the gate and filling the air with yet more fumes.
Fully charged the next morning, we left at 9:00am and went to Aldi to get food for lunch. Our first charging stop was Miriam Vale (170 km). Again, the QESH app wouldn’t work. We rang the help line. She thought it was a problem with our phone. (It turned out to be an internet black spot). She turned on the charger remotely. Too many devices make it too complicated. At least we got our charge.
At the Childers QESH (a further 154 km) everything worked perfectly at last, probably because we had plenty of internet. We ate lunch, watching the diesel sugar cane trains go by. Now to the Tesla Superchargers at Gympie (142 km). We had sorted out the credit card, so everything worked like clockwork. (Do electric clocks have clockwork?)
Gympie to Brisbane (150 km) was a good road, lots of it new highway. We could travel at the speed limit of 110 km/h but had to turn off Autopilot because roadworks had finished but Tess thought it was still 80. The traffic got heavier as we approached Brisbane. Are we there yet? Yes we are!
Been home for 3 days and we still haven’t washed the car! But the sapphires have been soaked in denture cleaner!
I would encourage you to take the challenge and travel out West in your EV. We found the people in the country positive and curious. Within 2 years, QESH will build out from the coast and you definitely shouldn’t have the challenges that we had. If you do, there will always be someone to lend a hand in true Aussie fashion.