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Can Electric Vehicles Revive the Great Aussie Road Trip? Part 3

The great Aussie road trip continues. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Our Bairnsdale accommodation was not only luxurious but had Tesla destination chargers. We had a stress-free few days visiting spots around Lakes Entrance in Victoria. We walked out to the entrance itself — a 5 km round trip — and saw the dolphins, seals and cormorants competing for fish in the near ocean. We also visited Raymond Island, where you can observe koalas sitting and sleeping in their gum tree homes just above your head.

While staying at the Riversleigh, it was recommended that we visit the Metung Hotel. Metung was a fishing village but now appears to be a playground for the wealthy. We ordered our meal and were enjoying our drinks when Majella thought she would see if there was any charging around. We didn’t need it, just curious. To our surprise, the Metung Pub was listed on the PlugShare app as having a destination charger.

We asked, and the manager offered to move her car so we could access the charger. It may be that some locals were abusing the free charging so they had decided to block it. They were more than happy for paying customers to use it. The manager plied us with questions and mused about her next car being electric.

The Great Aussie Road Trip

Manager of Metung pub shares the charger. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Sadly, the time came for us to leave Bairnsdale. On the way home we thought we would try for a top-up charge at Cann River. We had seen plenty of Orbost and wanted to explore a new town. There was a powered caravan site there with scores of lovely 15 amp power points we could use. However, it had been damaged in the recent floods and was closed to the public. The council could offer no other possibilities. The local publican, however, was very happy to hang an extension cord out of the window and charge Tess in his beer garden, as we once again got the opportunity to play tourist.

The Great Aussie Road Trip

Charging in the beer garden at Cann River. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Cann River sits on the junction between two highways, one leading to Canberra and the other the main highway between Sydney and Melbourne. It’s a perfect spot for a bank of EV chargers, and the Victorian government must think so too, as they are installing three Tesla Superchargers and another one for non-Tesla EVs also.

The town was full of grey nomads — with large four-wheel drives and larger caravans. They were enjoying their own great Aussie road trip — just paying a lot more for fuel.

The Great Aussie Road Trip

Construction of Tesla Superchargers at Cann River. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

We enjoyed coffee and lunch in the busy café and a walk along the river and through the deserted caravan park — all those power points and no one plugged in!

After a full charge at Berry, we stayed overnight at a little caravan park in Windang. The accommodation was on the lakeside but disappointingly shabby (the pictures on the website were wonderful, but they were not of the unit we stayed in). We had arranged to plug the car in for a top-up. We didn’t need the charge but thought it would be a good opportunity to demonstrate that an EV can be charged from a power point.

The manager said that they had never had that request before. This stimulated a good conversation about the surge of EVs entering the Australian market. Despite our assurances that the car would not damage their circuitry, the manager asked for a $100 surety deposit. Before left in the morning, two staff inspected the unit — checking to see if we had burnt it down, I guess. Hopefully the management has learnt something and will be more welcoming of EV travellers in the future. I encouraged them to consider installing destination chargers.

We retraced our steps to Lake Macquarie where we stayed with family. They were introduced to Tess and we toured the local beaches and lookouts. They live in an older house on the lakeshore with limited electricity supply. We found we could only charge overnight, as the house used all the power during the day.

On our way back to Brisbane, we stayed at a different motel at Port Macquarie. Of their two destination chargers, only one was operating due to maintenance issues. The frustrated owner was even thinking of pulling them out since she could not get Tesla to come up from Sydney to fix it. At Karuah, we shared the chargers with an electric MINI and an Atto 3. The MINI driver was having difficulty working out how to disengage the charging cord and the Atto 3 driver was helping him out.

The Great Aussie Road Trip

We shared the Karuah chargers with an electric mini and a BYD Atto 3. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

By the time we repeat this trip, we will probably have an EV with longer range (Majella wants to upgrade to a Tesla Model Y), and the high-speed chargers will be up and in operation at Cann River and Orbost. Perhaps the next issue that EV drivers in New South Wales will face is queuing at the chargers?

Australia is experiencing a surge in EV ownership as carmakers increase their shipments and add new models. Tesla alone has 11 ships in process of bringing cars to Australia throughout November. Queuing would be a nice problem to have. In the meantime, enjoy your own great Aussie road trip — just remember to plan ahead!

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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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