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Tesla adventure in Outback Queensland and North-QLD

Section 7 Winton - Cloncurry:

On this part of our route 347 km we have used Tesla's AP1 to its maximum! It definitely helped for a relax driving but you got to watch out for some animals crossing the road. Leaving Winton it becomes outback and nothing more than outback...all the way to tiny Kynuna.
This time there was no wind at all and we cruised along for about 168 kms in autopilot at average close to 85 kmh which resulted in a consumption of 177 wh/km in stark contrast with the 230 kmh for an earlier stretch of road to Winton.
The Blue Heeler Hotel in Kynuna was our first Coffee Stop and arriving there we soon noticed the place attracted more then just humans...some Brolgas did favor the place as well.


Above: My spouse got in to trouble asking for some vegetarian food in the outback...LOL

Leaving Kynuna, some Brolgas in their natural habitat:
Section 7 Winton - Cloncurry

A 2nd driving break was planned at the Crocodile Dundee’s Walkabout Creek Hotel:

Getting out of those hotels you not only need to watch out for Kangaroos, Emus or Brolgas on the road...

Arriving at Cloncurry we expected to have a 3 ph 32 Amp 5-pin socket to be awaiting us at Cloncurry caravan Park OASIS. From our intensive research and preparation we knew they had 3 phase power available but only missed the correct socket. Sockets were shipped to them but the package only just arrived before us and their sparky could only install it a week later....
With less than 20 km range left in the batteries...over to Plan B, I speeded to the local council to arrive at 5 pm and put up the guts to ask for their help and yes...with a little bit of charm and insisting patience, Melissa contacted a few people and told us there would be a solution at the “Cloncurry Equestrian Centre”!
Consequently I charged there using 3 phase 32 Amp and did it again on our return to Cloncurry 2 days later when there was a contest going on for Cattle drafting in the evening.
Section 8: Cloncurry - Mount Isa – Camooweal – Mount Isa

On arrival in Mount Isa we charged at the “Buchanan Sport Complex” which Richard had already added to the Plugshare App. If you like to charge at this spot I personally suggest to call the caretaker first. The place is usually open between 7am and 3pm.
We only needed about 80 minutes charging but that was enough for some exercise climbing the close-by hills and getting a good panoramic view of the sport complex and Mount Isa City.
Zoom in to find our Tesla!
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Upon charging we headed to the tourism information center to obtain a list of the local accommodation and food places with the intent to contact them and figure out one by one which of the places may have 3 phase power.
After about 10 calls we finally found that Leichhardt Accommodation had 3 phase and was willing to help us for our quest! We went there while the iron was hot and handed over another 3 phase socket donated by AEVA/TOCA.
A few days later I received an email that it has been installed and waiting for the first EV driver to sap electrons.
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Continuing our quest, we drove to our most Westwards destination Camooweal, close to the Northern Territories border. This tiny village is the only Urban spot on the >450 kms road that connects Mount Isa with Tablelands village across the Northern Territories border and consequently an essential place to charge up batteries.
In Camooweal, the only reliable place to install an appropriate 3 phase socket was the RACQ workshop where there was an existing 4-pin 20 Amp outlet.
Before starting the trip from Bribie Island, we had negotiated a deal for them to swap that outlet with a 5-pin 32 Amp 3ph socket which David Green accepted to do.
The RACQ workshop is located 3 minutes walking from the Puma/BP Roadhouse which also has accommodation and food!
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To close the day we drove back to Mt Isa and on a rest stop along the way we took a photo from Electra on the dark red soil background
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So good to open Plugshare and see so much more green across the top of Queensland. Congratulations @Dylanpete your work is so important and will give other Tesla owners confidence to go North and explore this vast country. Top marks!
And your photographs will give many an idea what the country is like and a taste of what they will find when they do their own travels to the deep North.
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So good to open Plugshare and see so much more green across the top of Queensland. Congratulations @Dylanpete your work is so important and will give other Tesla owners confidence to go North and explore this vast country. Top marks!
And your photographs will give many an idea what the country is like and a taste of what they will find when they do their own travels to the deep North.
Thanks Sylvia, some more special photos are coming reporting the next sections of my trip.
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Reactions: wilsilly
Section 9: Mount Isa – Cloncurry

Arriving at Mt Isa from Camooweal we stayed overnight at the Moondara Accommodation Village. Also here there is 3 phase power for their kitchen and laundry facilities and the owners may consider installing an appropriate socket in the future.
The MAV is about 12 kms away from the magnificent Moondara Lake, a welcome oasis in the arid area. The lake offers picnic facilities, water sports and an interesting scenic drive but there is no accommodation.
Surprise...at the edge of the lake the local council did establish a small open air event facility that among others featured a few perfect 32 Amp sockets but preventing cars, motor homes or caravans to park nearby. Imagine charging at the edge of the lake while fully enjoying nature!
We definitely need to suggest to the council to allow for charging here!
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Before arriving at Cloncurry we paused at the Chinaman Creek Dam which was another lovely nature experience after traveling through drought stricken areas.


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Section 10 a) : Cloncurry – Burke & Wills

Before leaving Cloncurry we once more rang Burke & Wills Roadhouse to inform them about our ETA but were told the manager had left early morning to Cloncurry for an urgent matter.
Not leaving Cloncurry timely would definitely get us in trouble to reach Karumba before Kangaroo-bumping-time so we decided to go anyway and to try reaching Mark, B&W's Manager via phone for further brainstorming.
Getting out of Cloncurry phone reception became very hazardous but he succeeded to reach us and we concluded to leave a AEVA/TOCA donated 3 phase 32 Amp socket to one of his staff during our stop at B&W Roadhouse. Mark agreed to install it in replacement of one of the two 3 phase 20 Amp 4 pin they have on their camping site.
With batteries 100% charged at the max 387km typical range for my 2015 Model S85 we left for a 388 km trip to our Normanton 3 phase charging destination. We hoped there wouldn’t be any strong headwind giving us some stress and slowing us down.
We knew that driving slowly, keeping our speed below 80 km/h up to Four Ways would allow us to reduce consumption and increase our balance range kms for the next lag from B&W Roadhouse to Normanton.
Note the below picture of the Tesla's central screen still showing an expected battery state of 12% capacity when we had left Cloncurry.
How to explain?

Arriving at B&W close to lunch time there were plenty of heavy 4WD vehicles taking fuel and they clearly got shocked seeing a Tesla EV taking the same route. They just couldn’t believe what they saw...It was our chance to educated some of them a little about EVs and show them our box of charging tricks.
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Plenty of squabling Apostle birds at B&W Roadhouse looking for some food spoils. Who is Burke and who is Wills?
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Next, we continued to Normanton, increasing speed to about 90 kmh, and driving through some eerie landscapes convincing us that the original population from Australia are termites!
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Section 10b : Burke & Wills – Normanton

More endless outback as far as you can see when driving from Four Ways to Normanton, no villages at all...
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Arriving at Normanton we were expected by Doug & Lyn, the main promotors and investors into the Normanton Solar Farm.

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The 5 megawatt solar farm has 4 ha under power, 50 rows of PV panels, each row having 100 kW of installed power. The NSF will provide enough energy to power the towns of Normanton and Karumba, and the cattle stations of the Carpentaria Shire covering an area 1 ½ the size of Tasmania.
The area currently gets its electricity from a coal fired power plant at Rockhampton, nearly 1700 km away and according Doug’s explanation: “from our research we are yet to prove, to deliver approximately 4 MW of electricity to the Normanton substation the power plant has to supply approximately 10 MW of energy to the network landlines which translates into what we believe would be 60% power losses!”

Consequently Doug Scouller and NSF designed the PV farm to match the power load needs of the nearby Normanton substation and reduce the landline power losses to 0%.

In my perception, this project, located at the fringe of the existing network makes absolute common sense as:

  • To Ergon, it will reduce the power losses and energy cost delivered to the Normanton substation
  • To the QLD Government this will result in fewer subsidies to be paid out to reduce the cost per kWh delivered to the local users in the area.
  • To the NSF investors it makes the project highly financially sustainable all while creating permanent jobs in the area.
  • To the local council it provides availability of reliable cost worthy energy allowing a vision for further economic development of the area.
  • According ARENA, to ARENA and Ergon the “Normanton Solar Farm will act as a test case for network provider Ergon Energy to understand the true impact on network losses. This will provide a starting point to explore regulatory changes that would support more renewable energy installations in fringe-of-grid locations across Australia.”
Considering this win-win for all parties involved people with common sense cannot understand or accept that till now, 10 months after completion of the PV farm, it is still not exporting energy. Commissioning is now planned for 9th October.
Section 10c : Normanton - Karumba

To finish the day we left the Normanton Solar Farm with enough solar energy added to the batteries to drive an extra 130km. We headed to Karumba (75km) targeting a timely arrival at Karumba Point Beach to enjoy the sunset over the Gulf of Carpentaria. We made it with 2 minutes to spare...
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After driving through the outback for many days with temperatures up to 39C it was a relief to see the sea again and enjoy the refreshing breeze! We decided to stay for 2 days and take a deserved rest. There is a +/- 4km walking trail from Karumba Point to Karumba which leads you through the wetlands. At the time of our passage it was pretty dry but we were still able to make some interesting photos there and at the beach.
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We charged at a seafood business that had 3 phase power for their reefer and searched for an accommodation place that had 3 phase power coming in to their switch board. We finally found ASH'S Holiday Units had 3 phase and willing to support our quest.
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Section 11a: Karumba – Normanton:

Leaving Karumba at Sunrise we headed to Normanton where we still had a job to perform.
Early enough to spot the evasive Australian Bustard!

Normanton Solar Farm intends to set-up a NSF tours facility along the main road to Normanton. An EV charging station would be part of such facility.
But as long as NSF isn’t connected to the Normanton power substation by Ergon, the company isn’t ready to implement such plans.
Consequently we wanted to find an alternative spot for our followers EV travellers to charge 3-phase and had to contact a number of people. Early birds have the chance to find more worms so we made sure to arrive timely in Normanton!

We weren’t successful at first with motels or accommodation/food places but got a tip that Hawkins Transport Pty Ltd. 2kms out of the town center had several 3-ph sockets. Electra got welcomed there with open arms and lots of interest! We did a top-up of Electra’s batteries and after a nice chitchat with the Manager he agreed I could put their charging spot on Plugshare!

But this place being quite far away from the town centre and lodging or food supply we wanted to do an additional search effort which resulted in another charging spot in town.

We visited Normanton Train Station where you'll find the museum and iconic Gulflander train which offers tourist rides to a few destinations.

As you can spot in the above pictures, the station's workshop has a 5-pin 3-phase socket but as it is part of QueenslandRail property the Officer in Charge thought he may be restraint to help due to Workplace Health and Safety considerations...

Finally, KC’s corner, a hardware business and shop outlet in the town cetre had 3-ph 20A 5-p socket and willing to cooperate for our quest! Next-door to them there is a supermarket and they are close to some eating places and motels.

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