How a Tesla travelled 9,000kms through Queensland without super-charger network

Environmental thunderclouds threaten mankind - Tesla accelerates towards a brighter future!
Environmental thunderclouds threaten mankind – Tesla accelerates towards a brighter future!

A previous trip reported in Renew Economy Tesla return trip Brisbane – Canberra – Brisbane illustrated my motivation for environmental protection, EVs and sense for adventure. This time around, I propped it up a notch higher proving that it is perfectly possible to combine this life vision and mission with a very enjoyable family holiday.
N-Queensland has strong international tourism ace cards and beyond the beaten tourist tracks, this area really offers some magic and fun! The environmental and scenic diversity is vast and distances to some attractive spots can be considerable but with the 400km “Typical Range” available from the Tesla MS we haven’t experienced any real range anxiety.
As I expressed to local press and ABC radio, I like to reiterate here that writing this article fits my self- proclaimed mission of proving to Australians that with the Tesla Model S the era of electric transport has started NOW and that with little equipment you can travel thousands of km far from Tesla- or public charging infrastructure making use where ever possible of renewable energy resources. This is reality and not a far-fetched dream!
Lately, I was encouraged to read about the Electric Highway initiative from the QLD Government. I wish that my practical experience reported hereafter proves to the initiative takers that this project, besides Super-, DC- and Level 2 chargers should also integrate 3-phase charging from regular industrial sockets in existing public and private facilities, as well as destination charging such as recently promoted by Tesla + Airbnb. This approach will relieve budget strain, drive an increased adoption rate of EVs in QLD and can act as a prelude for phased installation of DC chargers.
Now, let’s consider, here is what I experienced in practice:

  •   Using a modern EVSE Charge Controller, it only takes 3 phase 5 pin 32A power sockets to reach an 80% charge in 3 hours in the case of a Tesla MS with dual chargers! One hour charging gives the car +/- 120km of typical range! The waiting time may be an issue for some but not in case you have other activities to take on instead of waiting and watching…
  •   Many public and private sites along the Bruce Highway and on branch artery roads to coastal and inland towns already have powerful substations and 3 phase electrical infrastructure. The majority of those sites I visited to top-up my Tesla’s batteries are very open to support the idea of the QLD electric highway!
  •  A number of sites that I found to top-up batteries already have renewable energy while others boost great potential for solar energy which could well fit in to their own needs and supplementary provide employment opportunities. Let’s just mention a couple of ideas: wouldn’t solar shaded parking spots, tribunes and cafeterias fit into showgrounds?
Sugarcane Tesla
Sugarcane Tesla
I like to thank everyone who allowed me to top-up the car’s batteries at their premises. Your goodwill make these long road trips possible and deserve remuneration. Some of you felt there wasn’t a need for that, but I was happy some goodies were accepted as token of appreciation, in a good QLD fashion.
I also like to thank my friend Peter Hill at Ripple Multimedia, a passionate supporter of renewable energy and EV’s, for helping to correct a few of my photos.
Since May, I have completed 2 return trips to N-QLD. During the first one, I set a personal Tesla daily distance record of 948km without superchargers or destination chargers and I covered a distance of 1590km from home to Innisfail, 90km south of Cairns, in 2 days. This was a scouting trip to evaluate the challenges I would encounter undertaking a real lengthy holiday trip bringing along my spouse, her nephew (11Y) and niece (9Y) who would come over from Taiwan to spend their school holiday with us.
For the 2nd trip odometer data tell that we covered 9002km in 48 days holidaying.

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Over the course of both trips, I used a total of 40 different charging sites besides my own place from where I left with a 100% “range charge”. The number of my visited charging sites in specific areas is depicted on the map above, a screenshot taken from the Tesla central on-board screen: 4 Hervey Bay, 5 Rockhampton, 4 Mackay, 9 Airlie Beach, 3 Townsville, 15 Cairns.
This total of 40 consisted of 20 sites with 3 phase 32A 5 pin sockets, 3 sites with 3ph 20A 5 pin sockets, 1 site with a private owned single ph 40A Tesla HPWC, 8 sites with single ph 15A sockets, and 8 sites with single phase 10A sockets.
Further down in the article I’ll zoom into the above map and split up the list of charging sites in accordance with the areas were we passed or stayed.
Undertaking long trips needs preparation and planning as I described in my former article. I decided to bring multiple EVSE charge controllers:
1) 1 Mister EV Maxicharger Type 2 , max 22 kW, single + 3 phase from 10 to 32A
2) 1 e-Station ELPA EVR Type 2, max 22 kW, single + 3 phase from 6 to 32A
3) 1 Tesla UMC max 11 kW, capable of controlling charging up to 32A single phase and 16A 3 phase, but currently supplied to Australian Tesla buyers with only 1 dongle for 10A single phase charging.
Another J1772 adapter cable, expected to be useful when passing Townsville arrived too late at my home.
The huge trunk and frunk space of a Tesla MS was very beneficial for this family trip. Four 4 passengers, luggage “car support items” resulted in a “ballast” of about 400 kg but the Tesla handles the weight gracefully and the extra weight did only affect consumption a tiny bit, max 3%.

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Charging time doesn’t need to be boring, once you have driven a few hours it’s a perfect opportunity to stretch legs, do a bit of exercise, visit the local township and have a light meal in a local eatery!
For charging, our preference went to sites where renewable energy was available. Other places included showgrounds, industrial sites, holiday retreat parks, hotels, restaurants, houses, etc…see pics below.
Area 1: Bribie Island to Rockhampton
The map here below zooms into the previous one showing the area and the different sites where I charged:

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Within the list there are 3 showgrounds (1 has solar energy), 2 companies dedicated to solar energy and 2 tourist parks with some PV installed. The owners of Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat are very open to the idea of installing Tesla Destination Chargers to help Tesla drivers staying overnight.
Charging time doesn’t need to be boring, once you have driven a few hours it’s a perfect opportunity to stretch legs, do a bit of exercise, visit the place and have a light meal in a local eatery!
Showgrounds in Maryborough, Gin Gin and Gladstone.

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Gladstone showgrounds (above right) was one of the favourite charging spots for the kids as it is located next door to the attractive Aquatic Centre were, in view of the colder weather that day, we all enjoyed the indoor pool and a little snack!
On our return trip home from N-QLD we choose to overnight and charge at Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat, conveniently located not too far from the Bruce Highway but off the beaten track. Early morning proved to be a good time to have a walk following the path along the lake where you can spot a rich variety of birds.

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In Hervey Bay and Rockhampton we charged at two solar businesses. Both owners invited local press to spread the word of renewable energy being of good use to power the Tesla super EV and the future of electric transport. In Hervey Bay lots of visitors attended the event and a few people were heavily impressed leaving with Tesla dreams!
Hervey Bay: Tesla’s car an impressive piece of engineering Rockhampton: Tesla owner pumped to prove critics wrong
(Left) Hervey Bay: Solar Power Wide Bay Burnett (Right) Rockhampton: the Power Shop
(Left) Hervey Bay: Solar Power Wide Bay Burnett (Right) Rockhampton: the Power Shop
Our next destination was Rockhampton, the beef capital of Australia. Of course, a good portion of beef was a must on the menu and gave us all a boost of nutrients very welcome for our next day activity in Mt. Hay a 30 min drive east of Rocky, where the kids had some superb moments frolicking for thundereggs in the Mt. Hay Gemstone Tourist Park.

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Area 2: Mackay & Whitsundays

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After a short stop in Clairview, our next charge spot was at Sarina showgrounds, where we had breakfast, sporty fun and met some of the animals that were to become stars during the upcoming Sarina Show.

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Sarina may be a good place for a Tesla Supercharger, it’s conveniently located <300km on the way from Rockhampton to Mackay. It also has some potential for Tesla Destination Chargers, for example, the Sugercane Shed Museum and eatery place, which is also at walking distance from the shopping area.
During my trip in May I charged in Mackay, where Ziggy’s Engineering and Energy Base companies blessed me with their help and hospitality, allowing to top-up of batteries with renewable energy:

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Also in Proserpine and Cannonvale I topped up with solar energy provided by solar businesses:
(Left) Proserpine Electric Services (Right) Green Energy Technology in Cannonvale
(Left) Proserpine Electric Services (Right) Green Energy Technology in Cannonvale
Three more interesting 3phase charging spots in Airlie Beach:
First, the Reef Gateway Motel in Cannonvale +RSL Club lets you to charge when staying at their club facilities for a good meal etc…and further, there were the Whitsunday Sports Park and the Whitsunday Shipwrigth Services. Besides these I have seen other places that have 3 phase power sockets, one being the Abell Point Marina, close to their paid parking zone. This marina’s parking would be an ideal place for destination chargers as many half-day or full day boat trips leave from here to visit the Whitsunday islands.
(Left) Whitsunday Shipwrigth Services (Right) Whitsunday Sports Park
(Left) Whitsunday Shipwrigth Services (Right) Whitsunday Sports Park
While driving between places we also experienced some welcome Tesla technology features that came with the recent software updates provided by Tesla to our car f.o.c. over the internet. Three features that I particularly appreciate as very useful during long travels are the improved traffic aware cruise control (TACC) which became more nimble, the automatic emergency braking and the automatic high/low beam headlights. These features are a great improvement to safety and driving comfort, also reducing the stress level and reduce the frequency of fiddling with controls. Automatic emergency braking occurred twice, once for a Kangaroo that was about to consider suicide and once for a pushbike that made a manoeuvre when we were driving on a narrow road! The car anticipated a potential accident, reacted faster than I was ready to do and did it smoothly.
The Whitsundays area was one of our major tourist destinations and obviously I feel I should share some photos of scenic spots we reached with the Tesla. When covering some terrain using dirt roads we felt that the Tesla handled and behaved extremely well also tanks to the Smart Air Suspension feature of the car. You can find the places shown in the following photos in the more detailed map of the area below:

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I suggest to use a bigger screen to view the pictures below.

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While staying in the Whitsundays, I was also invited for a meeting with representatives of the regional council and the local press. We met at Cannonvale Beach and had a very good exchange. COO Ken McLoughlin who was fairly impressed after accepting to join for a small ride and Councillor Jan Clifford were suggesting they may report back to the Council and evaluate how the Council could help EV owners.
 
rsz_screen_shot_2015-09-16_at_20136_pmThey especially supported the idea of having Destination Chargers at hotels, eateries and AirBNB hosts.
As a matter of fact my Airbnb host in Woodwark “Scenic Haven” has already applied for a Tesla Destination Charger.

I now round off Part 1 of my lengthy article.
In Part 2 I will cover our Tesla travel experiences traveling from Proserpine through Ayr, Townsville, Tully, Mission Beach area, Innisfail up to Cairns.
In Part 3 I will cover the areas north of Cairns up to Cape Tribulation and the Atherton Tablelands.
In case you consider buying a Tesla Model S and my report helped you to make a decision….please note that Tesla is currently running a “Referral Program” whereby anyone who orders a new Model S before October 31st using the referral link of a current owner will get $1,500 off the purchase price. In return, the current owner will get a $1,500 discount that can be applied to a new car, service center visit or accessory. Referral discounts are limited to ten and are awarded on a first to purchase basis. New orders must be placed prior to October 31, 2015.
For more details please check “Tesla Motors Referral Program”. When designing and buying your Tesla, please feel free to use my referral link which is http://ts.la/marc4161

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