Tesla Model 3 — “But Will It Get Me To Uluru?”

By David Waterworth and Adam & Tanya Philips

It is a common joke amongst electric vehicle owners in Australia that some people won’t believe that an EV is worth buying unless it can get you to Uluru — the sacred heart of Australia (previously known as Ayers Rock). Well, one intrepid driver and his partner decided to check it out. Adam and Tanya Phillips drove to Uluru in the Northern Territory from Marysville in Victoria and back. Their full story can be found here.

I have provided some of the highlights with their permission.

Tesla Model 3 makes it to Uluru.

With a total distance of approximately 6000 km and a lack of high-speed chargers, getting from rural Victoria to the center of the Northern Territory is quite the challenge. Total stats for the trip: distance = 6050 km, total energy = 1044 kWh, average kW/km = 173, total cost = $281.04.

Lots of destination chargers at their accommodations provided the bulk of the charging. This included Keith Motor Inn — South Australia, Desert Cave — Coober Pedy SA, Erldunda Roadhouse — Northern Territory (3-phase outlet free to guests), Yulara Campground — Northern Territory, Oasis Motor Inn — South Australia.

Here are some trip highlights from Adam and Tanya:

Day 3 challenge — Only 1 road today, the Stuart Hwy. 110km/h the whole way. Charged at the Ampol at Glendambo, $20 per hour to charge from 3 phase that would only give 8kW. After 4 hours and $80 to get from 23 to 63% (29.63kWh), I consider that pretty much enough to get Coober Pedy tomorrow. But just to make sure I don’t have to drive slow, I’m charging from the 15A outlet for the air con in our hotel room for the rest of the night till we leave. Total distance = 290km, average Wh/km = 173.

Uluru trip

Coober Pedy

Day 5 — We headed from Coober Pedy to Erldunda today, the biggest single stretch of the trip at 495km. A stop was had about halfway at Marla for 2 hours @ $10 an hour to charge on their 3 phase running 16A giving 12kWh, then onto Erldunda where they have a 3 phase 16A plug that’s free for guests and also delivers 12kWh. Total distance = 495km, total energy = 83kW, average Wh/km = 167, total cost = $20.

Uluru Trip

Charging from a powerpoint.

Day 6 — A quick run down the Lasseter Hwy and we arrived at Yulara and set up camp at Ayers Rock Camp Ground. They have a Tesla destination charger giving 12kW which is free for people staying at the camping ground. Total distance = 285km, total energy = 47kWh, average Wh/km = 166, total cost = $0.

Day 8 — We left Yulara and headed north for Kings Canyon. We had an Ensuite site which has a 15A power point and this is how we charged whilst at Kings Canyon Resort with our UMC. The walks around Kings Canyon were absolutely superb. As we were in the powered site area, we had many people that couldn’t believe that the car was charging from a power point. Many great conversations were had with people helping to educate them: wherever there’s a power point, we can charge. Total distance = 311km, total energy = 55kWh, average kW/km = 178, total cost = $0.

Uluru trip

Kings Canyon, charging from a power point.

Day 13 — We headed south down for a night at Kulgera before moving on. The pub is a classic. The queue for diesel was about 300m long, as everyone was towing something the size of a house behind them taking up all the other diesel bowsers. Charging was a breeze at the 3 phase charger in the caravan park facility at $10 an hour. $50 and we’re full! Total distance = 295km, total power = 50kWh, average kW/km = 171, total cost = $50.

I did my maths a little better this time and worked out I didn’t need to use the 3 phase charger and pay $20 an hour for really slow 3 phase (10% an hour). So I plugged the UMC into the aircon 15A socket in our room and got to 90% by the time we left in the morning, which was more than enough. First bit of damage to the car today. 1km out of Glendamdo we got a stone from a small car and received a windscreen chip and star. This will need to be replaced when we get home, I called ahead to Port Augusta trying to get a fill repair but no luck. Total distance = 290km, total power = 47kWh, average kW/km = 173, total cost = $0.

Day 22 — After discovering the only ‘fast’ charger in the area is broken, we had to either backtrack slightly to Ballarat for a charge to get home or I could ask the hotel if they mind me plugging into the outdoor power point to charge up. They were quite interested after I explained how EVs are fine like this as we’re not off till the morning so that’ll be all the charge we need to get home. They wouldn’t accept cash so I gave them a nice bottle of wine as we were checking out in the morning to say thank you and to encourage them to consider a proper destination charger.

Uluru Trip

Adam and Tanya have included a handy table with charging suggestions and distances, etc. The issues they faced, how they solved them, and the generosity of their accommodation hosts is similar to what we found when we drove to Winton. It will almost be sad to think that soon these challenges will no longer be there as chargers become more ubiquitous.


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