In the hot and humid summer days, Queenslanders like to head to the beach or to the mountains to seek cooler, higher ground. We chose the higher ground in the Gold Coast hinterland, Mount Tamborine to be precise. We also wanted to check out progress in electrifying the mountain since our last visit in 2019 when Tess was a brand-new car.
There is lots to do. The plateau is 1722 feet above sea level and only 11 square miles in area. “The name is from the Yugumbir language of the Wangerriburra Clan, from Jambireen meaning wild lime tree, or dum/gom bireen meaning yam in a cliff,” according to Wikipedia.
Back in 2019, people were amazed that we could even make it up the mountain. Now, the concerns are mainly around charging. Where would you charge? We chose to stay at The Manor for several reasons: It had a Noodoe charger installed and it has a family connection. It is currently owned by one of Majella’s cousins. And her father was born behind the bar in 1923.
We checked PlugShare to see what else was available and were pleasantly surprised to find a scattering of chargers around the mountaintop. We were even more surprised by the number of electric cars we saw driven both by locals and visiting tourists. At Curtis Falls we had a chat with a blue MG ZS EV driver from Brisbane who told us that he had enough charge to make it up the mountain and back home. He and his family live in the CBD in an apartment block with no access to home charging. He was able to inform me that they could charge for free at the BMW dealership, QUT, and other sites in the city. I encouraged him to approach his body corporate to put in chargers in the car park. He hadn’t thought of that.
At Thunderbird Park, there is an ancient EV charger installed by the Australian Electric Vehicle Association. The lights were on but no one was home. We could plug in, but the car and the charger would not talk to each other — except to say “Charger insecure.” No wonder none of the other Teslas and the lone black Volvo in the carpark had not tried. We did not have the time to visit all the public chargers on the mountain, but we could not resist dropping in at St Bernard’s Hotel (and yes, they do have dogs in residence) for a cold beer and the great view down to the Gold Coast. Their charger is branded Ocular. We decided not to try it, as we didn’t want to download yet another app.
Dennis, Majella’s cousin and owner of The Manor, told us that he thought there should be a high-speed charger on the mountain for those who need it. But perhaps that time has not yet arrived. He has had his charger installed to attract EV driving customers and gets a couple of EVs charging each week. “We get about 10 EV drivers visiting for meals and accommodation each week, but only 2 or 3 using the charger.” We saw at least 10 Teslas each day we were travelling around, so we assume that they are locals, or that they can make it there and back on a charge.
He expects it will be some time before he needs to install any more chargers. There are concerns with loss of parking space for his hotel and 16-room guest house. He did tell us the funny story of an MG ZS EV driver who plugged in, charged up but when he went to leave after lunch, he couldn’t work out how to get the charging plug out of the port. “He knew little and I knew less,” Dennis quipped. Eventually they worked out that it was linked to the key and they were on their way!
In fairness to all concerned, I need to point out that the driver had only just picked up the car on the Gold Coast and driven it up the mountain. It was the first time he had charged it. A word to the wise — do short trips first, learn how to charge at home.
As promised by Sam from Noodoe, the charging process was simple. Back the car in, access the Noodoe site through the QR code with your phone camera, plug in, and put in your credit card details. You get a text that says “welcome to Noodoe” that gives you a website to track the charging process. We charged at a rate of 50 km/hour, the same as we get from our destination charger at home. We decided not to download the app — we have enough apps. But then when we went to charge for the drive home, we found we had to input our details once again. Moral of the story: if you are going to use a charge provider repeatedly, download the app.
We are looking forward to when all chargers have readers for credit cards and we can just tap and charge.
In 2019, when we visited The Manor just after we purchased Tess, we caused quite a stir — people gathered around the car asking questions. We had had to detour to Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast to top up as we were driving back and forth to Warwick. It’s okay — we met with friends for lunch. At that time, there was only the one charger at Thunderbird Park. We were pleased to see the progress being made to electrify the mountain. Dennis tells us that the Noodoe charger was easy to install with the encouragement of a family friend who is now full-time selling EV chargers to local businesses. Thanks, Cody — he’ll be next on my list of people to interview.
Dennis tells me that he is beginning to understand EVs more. “You need to plan your drive.” Yes, you do. However, it may not be long before destination chargers at tourist spots are ubiquitous and we can charge the car while we trek down to Curtis Falls, or Palm Grove, or enjoying the Skywalk, opening up the national parks to stress free EV driving. Progress is being made electrifying the mountain.
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