EVs Shock the Gayndah Orange Festival

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When Geoff Walden contacted the Australian Electric Vehicle Association to ask for some electric cars to participate in a parade, he was hoping for a handful. He was pleasantly surprised when four Teslas, four BYDs, and two Kona EVs showed up on Saturday morning.

He commented: “Given the lack of charging infrastructure out here in Gayndah, we were very pleasantly surprised to welcome 10 EVs to the EV Show and Shine held in conjunction with the 2023 Gayndah Orange Festival. We didn’t really know how many might turn up and we would have been very thankful for any number greater than two.

“The idea of such a gathering to be held in Gayndah came to me after seeing a report on Facebook describing a show that had been organised by the Queensland branch of the AEVA and held in Cleveland. Jon Day’s name was associated with the event and in October 2022 I contacted Jon by email to discuss the possibility of such an event being held in association with the Orange Festival. I was on the festival committee and had responsibility for booking the acts and looking after them on the day.

“With Jon’s encouragement, I decided that we would go ahead with the exercise. I invited owners via messages to Facebook groups and the word got around. Given the responsibility I had of looking after the entertainers on the day of the festival, I was going to need someone to look after the arrangements that needed to be made for the cars and their owners. Les and Benita Darrow both have great interest in the automotive industry and were very keen to be associated with the display.”

Majella and I travelled up in Tess (our Tesla Model 3) from Brisbane (361 km/224 miles) to share the joys of driving an electric vehicle and to represent the Tesla Owners Cub of Queensland. The trip from Brisbane to Gayndah on Friday was uneventful. We supercharged in Gympie while we enjoyed a pie and a coffee for lunch. It was a bit of a surprise to find a large fossil-fueled ute parked across two of the four charging bays and, initially, indignation rose within us. As we got closer, we found it had Tesla livery. This very busy 4-bay station was being updated and the technician was working on the magic electrical boxes. He assured us the work would soon be finished and one of the drivers charging said she would send us a text when she was close to finishing so we could swap cars. By the time we were charged and full, the technician had finished and 4 bays were available once more. Just as well, as two more Teslas had arrived and were getting a good feed of those quality electrons.

Gayndah Orange Festival
Tesla chargers iced? Photo by Majella Waterworth.

We arrived at the Lion’s Park assembly point in Gayndah early Saturday morning and had a great chat as we waited for the parade to form up. We were placed just behind the Blue Cow Citrus Float (number 10) carrying the Festival Queen and drove at 3 km per hour past thousands of curious onlookers. “Rev your engine!” the young people in big hats and blue jeans called out. “They’re so quiet,” the older onlookers with blue hair said. We were within a meter of the crowd, so heard everything. One even called out “Don’t run out of electricity!” Majella assured him that we had packed a long extension cord — and we all had a good laugh.

Geoff’s granddaughter took advantage of the open roof of the Atto 3 and stood up to throw lollies to members of the crowd.

Gayndah Orange Festival
Geoff’s granddaughter shares lollies with the crowd. Photo courtesy of Benita Darrow.

We waved; they waved back. Overall, it was a warm welcome from the country folk — who, we are told, are very conservative. Lots of photos can be found on the Facebook page here.

Before the parade, we had a few curious people with questions. Some of them were locals who had never seen an EV before. Others said they were thinking about buying an EV for their next vehicle purchase. There was little negativity. The crowd was impressed as the BYDs showed their tricks — one powered an electric sign encouraging people to check out the cars, another ran a record player, and a third made coffee. Ah, power take-off — such a wonderful thing. Of course, we ran the Tesla light show.

Gayndah Orange Festival
Need a cuppa? Plug the kettle into the car! Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Geoff continues: “Les and Benita came up with the idea of having an electronic digital sign, about one metre square, to promote the EVs and the display. They were keen to promote the V2L capabilities of our ATTO 3 and suggested that they arrange to hire the sign from Bundaberg and bring it over to Gayndah on the back of one of their utes.

“Les and Benita also gave us a loan of their gazebo to provide shade for the participants and the people who were interested enough to ask questions. A special thanks to the Darrows for their help in making the EV Show and Shine work.

“As well as powering the sign, our Atto 3 also provided electricity to boil the kettle to make cups of coffee for visitors.”

Gayndah Orange Festival
Powering the billboard. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

One generous BYD owner took people for test drives. They were impressed by the technology, especially the 360-degree camera because they had it in the car they were currently driving. They checked out the specs on the internet and spoke of their intention to get one as their next vehicle.

Although Teslas are quite common in Brisbane these days, once you go a little way north and west, they are rare. BYDs even more so. Geoff has a BYD and he invited AEVA (who invited the Tesla Owners Cub, etc., etc.) because he has the only EV in town and wanted some company. He wrangled us into the centre of the parade so that no one could say they did not see an electric vehicle. We were almost back to driving a rainbow farting unicorn.

Keeping us company was a little electric sports car (article to come on this).

Gayndah Orange Festival
Valerie’s electric mini sports car. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

After the parade and a delicious lunch, we wandered amongst the stalls and even got to talk to the local member of federal parliament. Sadly, as he represents the conservative Liberal National Party, he was obviously not interested in our suggestions about installing a high-speed charger in the town to encourage tourists with EVs to spend money with the local businesses. He sat behind his coal dark glasses and appeared to be thinking about something else. While his re-election continues to depend on a majority that fight renewable energy and don’t believe in the value of electric cars, his mind will not change.

Gayndah Orange Festival
Parade of EVs. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Most participants in the Gayndah EV event had enough charge to get back to a charge point on the highway either at Gympie, Childers, or Gin Gin. One owner took advantage of the 3-phase outlets on the showgrounds to ensure he had enough charge to make his way home comfortably.

Saturday afternoon, we played tourist and chatted to our good friends who were providing accommodation and charging. Sunday was going to be another exciting time as we attended the Orange Festival’s family fun day and answered even more questions from the curious. The public mood has changed. Over the weekend, I think I had only three trolls. We expect to attend several. There will be more events this year and we are looking forward to these more positive attitudes.

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David Waterworth

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].

David Waterworth has 763 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth