EV Tourism Offers Several Benefits

Maybe it is my demographic, but I am finding that touring the country in an electric vehicle is vastly different to the mad dash to the destination in a petrol car. Being an EV tourist is different. Take Brian and his wife Kate, for example. They deliberately chose to drive to a location just because it had convenient chargers. They drove for 4 hours, covering 300 km, just so they could stay in an area that had installed chargers. They then used the caravan park as a base and toured the various surrounding areas.

Starting in Dayboro, north of Brisbane in Queensland, Brian and Kate drove to Tenterfield in New South Wales, stopping in Warwick to charge at the fast charger supplied free to the town as part of the University of Queensland’s solar farm project. Rather than fast food or servo food, spending 35 minutes charging gave Brian and his wife time to visit the Cherry Tree café for a delicious morning tea. EV tourists can take their time, and can inject money into picturesque country towns.

“When we went touring in a petrol car, we used to take a thermos and sandwiches. Now that we aren’t spending money on petrol, we have plenty of money to go to a café. We have a chance to chat to locals and feel like the rich and famous. In Warwick we heard a lot about the solar farm.”

Warwick is also home to one Australia’s most ambitious onshore wind projects, the Macintyre Wind Farm, located about 50 km southwest of the town.

EV Tourists

Living like the rich and famous. Photo courtesy Brian Porter.

Then it was on to the Glen Rock Gardens for lunch at The Barn. There was no need to charge, as Brian had enough range in the battery to make it through to Tenterfield. He still had 175 km of range left in his Tesla Model 3 Standard Range.

Although it was the 250 kW Tenterfield Tesla Superchargers that initially attracted him, Brian ended up using the free NRMA chargers. They filled the battery at a great rate — in 20 minutes. Kate did the shopping and the car was charged. At Tenterfield, they stayed in a cabin at the caravan park.

EV Tourists

Tenterfield Saddler shop.

Over the three days that they spent in the area, they visited Armidale and charged for free behind the information centre. It only took 30 minutes for the 50 kW charger to replenish the battery. The charger, provided by the NRMA, is available 24 hours a day and appears to have little use at the moment. Brian had a great chat to a fellow motorist while the car charged. He told him that young families will be able to afford day trips — once cars are a little cheaper. “Sometimes I feel like I am in a Porsche telling people how good life is. I am looking forward to the time when prices come down.”

With the doubling of the rebate from the Queensland government and the introduction of newer, cheaper models, like the MG4, I assured Brian that that time is not far away.

At every opportunity, Brian and Kate gave the message: Superchargers and fast chargers attract EV tourists, and tourists spend money. After visiting the Tenterfield Saddler shop, they had lunch at the Tenterfield Corner Café, where they told the wait staff: “You pulled us from the north side of Brisbane to have coffee in your town solely because you have four Tesla Superchargers.” Brian tells me that they let the local businesses know that EV tourists bring in money. They gave the same message at The Cherry Tree, as well.

“We are semi retired, so time is not an issue. Driving an EV helps you slow down and relax, and you see more.”

One of their day trips (60 km round trip) was to pristine Bald Rock National Park for some bushwalking and rock hopping at Bald Knob.

EV Tourists

Brian atop the Bald Knob. Photo courtesy Kate Porter.

“An easy drive for any vehicle led us to a large carpark and picnic area, where we had the choice of either the Bungoona walk or Rockface walk to the summit. We chose the Rockface walk and followed along with groups of young families through the easy bush track, finally arriving at the steep rock face. There were white dots to follow up the face, which was nearly as steep as Ayers Rock we climbed in the ’80s when you were allowed to do it.

“Stopping several times to catch a breath and the view, we reached the summit in around 30 minutes. We took the time to take a break at the top, with the 360-degree view of bushranger Captain Thunderbolts’ territory, before heading down the same route.”

EV Tourists

Tesla Model 3 under the 200-year-old cork tree. Photo courtesy Brian Porter.

When in Tenterfield, there is much to see, including the giant cork tree in the centre of town, “which was brought out from England in a jam jar in 1861. It still grows today in Wood Street and is believed to be one of the largest of its kind in Australia. The tree flourishes in the New England climate and enjoys the same lucky reputation of its English counterparts.” Since the great plague of London in 1665, people have believed that walking three times around a cork tree will grant one’s wish.

A visit to George Woolnough’s grave is a pilgrimage made by the many fans of his grandson, Peter Allen. Peter has perpetuated the memory of George Woolnough in one of his best-known songs, “The Tenterfield Saddler.” George was a saddler in High Street Tenterfield, New South Wales, from 1908 until his retirement in 1960. 

EV Tourists

The grave of the Tenterfield saddler. Photo courtesy of Brian Porter.

They had many “charging chats.” Arriving in Warwick on the way to Tenterfield, another EV driver, dining at The Coffee Club, saw the notification on PlugShare that Brian was connected to the slow charger. (Warwick has a fast and a slow charger at the same site.) He came over and took his car off the fast charger so they could use it. This is a model of charging etiquette and courtesy.

On the way back, when topping up in Warwick, an MG ZS EV pulled up. A young mum was driving from Tamworth to Brisbane (about 580 km) and was amazed she could do it for free. Brian didn’t need much charge, so he unplugged and let her use the fast charger while the baby slept.

“It cost AUD$21 to drive 1200 km. This range anxiety is complete crap. There were so many chargers around we could have driven all around New South Wales for free. In the old days we would rush to destinations and then sit in parks beside the road with our thermos and sandwiches. We didn’t interact with the locals or other drivers.” Being on the road as an EV tourist is a much more relaxing and connected experience. I hope you will feel inspired to get on the road and enjoy being EV tourists.


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