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Results from the First Tesla Road Trip

June 30, 2024

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I took a couple of weeks off recently.

We loaded up the car and headed off to a few destinations in Southwest WA.

You’ll see some snaps from that in a moment.  But as a new EV driver, it was interesting.

I had to navigate and plan between chargers and our accommodation along the trip.

How did it go?  Mostly smooth.  But there were some frustrations, which I’ll happily share with you.

I actually took some brief notes along the trip, since I had a feeling I’d end up writing about it.

So strap in for some holiday snaps, a tour of Southwest WA, some cafe/restaurant recommendations, along with the Tesla road-trip experience.

Where did we go?  Dunsborough, Denmark, and Esperance.

The trip itself was really good.  It was pretty cold this time of year, but we enjoyed it anyway.

We contributed mightily to the local economy, eating at cafes and restaurants far more than we probably should have.  There was a lot of walking, but probably not enough to make up for it 😉

As for the day by day, here’s what the trip looked like, before we move on to the Tesla’s performance, charging adventures and what I learned.

 

Day 1

We left home after peak-hour had finished and headed towards our first destination: Dunsborough.

 

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Along the way, we stopped in at Eaton shopping centre, which has 6 Tesla superchargers lined up nicely.

It was a buzzing little shopping centre with a nice open plaza area full of eateries – much nicer than I expected.

 

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Our next stop along the way was a place we’ve stayed before: Busselton.

It’s a major town in the southwest, which I’d classify as a popular beachside mini-city outside Perth (I could definitely live there).

We stretched our legs, had something to eat, then headed to our accommodation in Dunsborough a short drive away.

 

Day 2

Today we spent a lot of the day touring the coast and driving to check out all the nice beaches and recommended spots.

 

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It’s such a beautiful environment, where bush meets the ocean.  I love greenery, but I also love being near water.  So when you combine those, I’m in heaven.

Later we stopped in at a cleverly named watering hole in Dunsborough – The Pour House.  It was fairly busy with what I’ll assume was a mix of locals and tourists.

After that, we had dinner at a local Indian restaurant and settled in for the night.

 

Day 3

Topped up the Tesla in town this morning.

Paid $13 for about 50% charge.  Afterwards I realised I could’ve got the 20% discount for being an inadvertent RAC member due to the car insurance.  Missed out on a $3 saving, damn 😉

Funny side note: everyone seems to think the same thing: “I’ll head out at the convenient time of 9am on a Saturday and plug the car in while I have a coffee. Surely nobody else will be doing that” 😂

Uh yeah, so that might not work out so well.  You’ve gotta be a little bit smarter than that if you’re in a town with only a couple of chargers, especially on the weekend.

Got talking to a few other EV drivers at the charging spot and they’d all had their cars for less than 9 months, and all were very happy.

Today we went for a nice walk around Dunsborough and I met up with a reader in Busselton.

 

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Later on we went back to Busselton for dinner at a Thai restaurant, which was excellent.

I think I’ve decided that Thai food is my favourite cuisine – it just seems to have so many good dishes I like.  Might have to go try some in the actual country one of these days!

 

Day 4

This morning we got up early, grabbed a morning coffee and went for a walk along the beach.

 

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Then we did a final drive to look at a couple more spots before heading off to our next destination: Denmark.

We spent most of the day driving, stopping to eat, take walks, and charge the car.

I’m no fan of sitting in the car.  But when you’re driving through forest and beautiful tall trees like this, it’s hard not to enjoy it…

 

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An interesting thing happened too.  There was a glitch in the Chargefox app.

While this seemed like a problem at first, turns out the charge terminals were working, but because it wasn’t connecting to the app, it somehow turned out to be free!  That was a nice bonus.

We arrived at the property kinda late and settled in for the night.

 

Day 5

We woke up to beautiful birdlife and a few kangaroos grazing nearby our accommodation.

 

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This property was basically a cottage in a hilly area at the back of town, nestled among big trees and semi-open bushland.

Even without the animals, the outlook and the tranquility is lovely.

 

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We got organised and headed to our favourite two spots in Denmark: Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.  Pretty damn cold, but still lovely.

 

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Later we went to a local brewery – Boston Brewing – for afternoon drinks and a meal.  They make a damn good ginger beer!

 

Day 6

Today we went for a morning hike at a place called Monkey Rock.

I’m honestly not sure why it’s called that… unlike Elephant Rocks, the formation doesn’t seem to resemble a monkey, unless I’m mistaken.  Any locals care to explain that one?

Anyway, the hike was great and the views were incredible.  Sadly, photos never seem to capture things like this very well.  But this is from me sitting at the top, looking way down on the forest and the ocean…

 

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Later, we had some lunch in town and hung out by the river for a while, before checking out a few more areas.

 

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The day finished with another cheeky drink at the brewery!  For clarity, we usually only have like 1-2 drinks per week at home, but we’re in holiday-mode here.

 

Day 7

We woke up to an extra 40% charge after finding an outside power point at the house.

This ‘trickle charge’ method would be horrendous if you were actually waiting for it, but it’s perfectly fine in many cases, even for the majority of daily commuting.

There was actually a faster charger in town, but we didn’t need to use it despite driving around a lot each day.

Today we packed up and spent most of the day driving to our final location: Esperance.   The supercharger we planned to use was out of action (more on this soon), so we just went to the next area for a slower charger – bit annoying but fine.

We walked around town – Ravensthorpe for those curious – got something to eat and drink and killed an hour before taking off again.  Arrived in Esperance pretty late so we just grabbed something for dinner and settled in.

 

Day 8

Woke up to beautiful views at the little beach studio.

 

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This property was part of a small acreage (which is impressive considering the views), which had a few of its own animals.  I even made some friends…

 

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At this point I’m feeling a little bad about not doing any ‘work’ for almost a week.  There’s an urge to be productive, but I’m enjoying the trip enough that I just don’t care.

I find it relatively easy to switch off for the first week or so.  After that, I start getting a little annoyed at the lack of accomplishment relative to the amount of consumption and indulgence going on 😅

Does writing notes for a blog post count?  If so, I probably cheated.

Today we fully charged the car in town, gave it a wash, did some laundry, and then went to see my mum.  After spending some time with her, we went for a big walk along the esplanade.

We actually saw 2 dolphins not that far out from shore, which was awesome.  Then we did the Great Ocean Drive loop, which takes you round the coast to about a dozen beach spots before looping through bushland back into town.

On the way, we saw a small group of deer (???) crossing the road into bushland.  Apparently there’s a few around… who knew!

 

Day 9

Rainy this morning, but we went to a popular local breakfast spot – Bread Local – a bit out of town on a lovely tree-lined property.

They had some incredible home-made donuts (probably the best I’ve ever had), and the coffee was delicious.  Maybe now you can see why I’m starting to feel a little slothful 😉

In an attempt to make up for it, we then went for a giant beachside walk – about 20,000 steps – stopping through town to get another coffee and something to eat, then headed back.

Saw mum again this afternoon and had dinner and drinks.  While at the bar, we bumped into a couple that we kept seeing on the ocean drive loop.

They told us they saw 50 dolphins playing and jumping out of the water… at the one stop we didn’t go to 😢

 

Day 10

Today we went for a drive to our favourite spots in Esperance, all located inside Cape Le Grand National Park.

Lucky Bay.  Thistle Cove.  Hellfire Bay.  And they all look a little something like this…

 

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All unbelievably beautiful spots with white sand and turquoise water.  It was dead quiet, and we basically had the place all to ourselves.

Even with poor light and cloud cover, you can still tell how beautiful they are.  It feels like you’re on an island somewhere.

This time we didn’t see any kangaroos on the beach at Lucky Bay, but did see a couple nearby (the first time we must’ve been super lucky).  We did see a few more dolphins at Hellfire Bay, but they were a little far out.

In the afternoon we went to Lucky Bay Brewery for a few drinks and an early dinner.  They had live music, friendly staff and tasty food.

 

Day 11

Took our time today doing another lap of the Great Ocean Drive.

We stopped at every stop this time, even had time for a little modelling (think I nailed it personally lol).

 

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Unfortunately, we didn’t see the big pod of dolphins.  Even still, the scenery and environment is gorgeous regardless.

Took mum in for a medical procedure and hung out around town.  Went to a coffee spot I like (Cloud Eleven), then packed up and cleaned our unit to get ready for the drive home tomorrow.

 

Day 12

This morning we went into town for a final walk along the esplanade and gave the car a quick charge.

 

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We then spent the rest of the day driving back back to Perth, with a few stops and breaks along the way.

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It was a pretty boring day to be honest.  Instead of doing two stops on the way to Esperance, we should’ve done one stop going there and one coming back!

Now, onto the main question many of you will have: “How was the car?”

 

EV charging, mileage, and driving

How did the car perform long distance?  Actually, a little disappointing in terms of range.  I’ve been getting 500km per charge in the urban environment and I’m used to that.  On long distance highway driving, I was only getting about 400km (sometimes less).

Why?  I think because highway driving is constant acceleration.  Whereas in the city, the stop-start nature of driving lets the battery incrementally replenish due to the regenerative braking.  This ends up making a big difference.

Also, EVs seem far more sensitive to changing conditions, like weather, speed, etc.  For example, there was a noticeable difference in range when driving at 80kmh vs 100kmh, which was quite interesting.  But someone with more knowledge and experience may be able to shed more light.

How long did charging take?  In most cases, not long.  Between 15 minutes and 45 minutes, depending on the charger’s speed and how low our battery was.  As mentioned, we plugged into a wall socket at one of the properties and got an extra 40% charge overnight, which was pretty handy.

The more frustrating one was in Ravensthorpe, using a ‘medium speed’ charger.  We spent about 1.5 hours hanging out there, which was probably an hour more than I wanted.  But we needed to do that because the other fast charger nearby was down.

How much did it cost?  At a rough guess, our ‘fuel’ cost was probably about 50-70% cheaper than petrol would have been.  A little of that was free, but the rest was between 30-60c per kWh (prices vary between charger/location).  Which equates to something like $17-35 per full charge (battery size is 57 kWh).

How’s the car going so far at home?  Excellent.  We’re basically just charging with solar or free at our local shopping centre.    Our mileage is better than expected at the rated 500 km, whereas I thought it’d be less in real life.  Probably because we don’t do much long highway driving, which seems to kill range in an EV.

 

What else did I learn? 

Reception matters.  Lack of Optus reception in one area meant we couldn’t connect the app to charge.   As I understand, this can be overcome with an RFID card (or being with Telstra).  Both would be useful backups.

A few chargers were also down, either under maintenance or not working.  That’s despite the app saying they were ready to use, which was annoying.

Luckily, I always planned so that we had enough to make it to the next charging area if we had no success in one particular town.  It pays to just stop quickly and give it a top-up even if you don’t need much.

Taking breaks and charging itself is fine.  On our previous road-trips, we’d always stop every 2 hours for a good 20 minutes or so.  After a couple of hours, I’m itching to get out and walk around, so that was no different.

Any advice?  Charging availability differs widely around the country.  Check the PlugShare app for various chargers on any trip you do and filter by type of charger.  This way you can tell how long you’ll need to stop for, where the next charger is, more effective routes, etc.

The superchargers we found to be great, reliable and fast.  The medium speed chargers, less so.  But it could also be luck of the draw, so your mileage may vary (literally) 😉

 

Final thoughts

Overall, it was a lovely trip and good to get away for almost two weeks.

While the car is super comfortable, I’ll never enjoy sitting and driving for that long.

I’m also excited to be back at my desk (rather, converted dining table), and back to doing what I’m doing here.  I’m not a hyper-productive person, but I also don’t like getting nothing important done for too long.

Why don’t I just do a little bit of work while away?

I’ve tried this several times.  But for some reason, I really struggle to get in the zone.  I’m too easily distracted and my mind can’t get into a mode of deep concentration.

Other people seem to love working in a noisy coffee shop.  I need zero noise, and zero distractions to work properly.   So that’s likely just a me problem.

I can do ‘shallow’ tasks, like emails, admin, social media, or notes.  But so called deep work like writing?  No bueno.

Anyway, that was the first Tesla road-trip.  I’ve learned a few things for next time, but it was still quite a happy adventure 🔥

Have you done any road-trips in an EV?  If so, share what you learned and any tips you have in the comments…


Thanks for reading! 

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18 Comments

18 Replies to “Results from the First Tesla Road Trip”

  1. This is actually a great tourism guide! I’ve been very interested in doing a trip like the one you’ve done for quite some time and this has got me already thinking about finally booking the trip over from Brissy

  2. Looks like a great trip. Very interesting to hear about the mileage on longer trips. 400km range is a hard pill to swallow coming from the 1500km that my prado gets. Next time you need to make it to Kalgoorlie. Would be great to catch up more and I can show you around. Unfortunately we didnt get to chat much at your last meet up!

  3. Hi Dave – great trip and love those photos! We are likely heading out that way from Sydney in October to do a camper van trip from Perth to Exmouth and back. Maybe we can catch up for a coffee.

    Can you comment on the cost of the car and the recent drop in pricing given the imminent flood of cheaper Chinese options? Are you concerned that the car could be worth half what you paid for it in the next few years?

    1. Exmouth is a big trip, not one I’ve had the patience for thus far 😉

      My comment is I couldn’t care less. Tesla, BYD and others will likely all continue to reduce in price over time given benefits of scale + battery tech improvements (as expected/predicted). If I cared about resale value, i wouldn’t have purchased a new car to begin with. It might seem flippant but I’m being honest.

      Buying a relatively expensive brand new car is basically lighting your money on fire. Having your resale value fall at a slower rate is simply watching your money burn slower.

  4. Hey Dave, regarding your Optus coverage issues:

    Highly recommend Boost Mobile, we’ve used them for years.
    You get access to the entire Telstra 4G/5G network (capped speeds).

    12 month plans start from $230 (170GB), which equates to about $19 (14GB) a month. They actually used to be cheaper, but overall still excellent value. https://boost.com.au/pages/prepaid-plans

    Even Telstra and Optus’ best priced plans start at $35/m, or ~$26/m on their 12month offerings.

    Cheers

    1. Anywhere in South East Asia will satisfy taste buds. I went to Thailand thinking Thai food was my favourite, but ended my trip in Vietnam and now their food is my favourite. Cambodia in between was pretty darn good too.

  5. We just did an Adelaide to Melbourne trip in a Telsa Model 3 without a problem. Plenty of chargers along the way, and by the time we had a coffee, the car was recharged.
    Also toured around the Great Ocean Road, where charges aren’t as common, but easy to plan around. Stayed at a few AirBnB places, and they let us change overnight for free. Using a regular power points is slow (around 10km.hr), but a good top up when you’re exploring around a central base.
    All up around $200 for 2,500km. Not including coffee costs….

  6. The reason for your reduction in range at higher speed is at least in part because aerodynamic drag force is proportional to the square of the speed (it is not linear).
    For example, changing speed from 50kmh to 100kmh would result in 4 times more fuel used for the same distance.
    So even though changing speed from 100kmh to 110kmh is a 10% increase in speed you actually increase fuel usage by more than 10% due to drag from the air.
    The same principal applies whether the car is electric or petrol/diesel.

    1. Ah ok, interesting, thanks for the additional info. The speed thing seemed to be more pronounced in the EV for some reason, but that could’ve possibly been because I was watching it more closely.

  7. ICE cars have multiple gears, which reduces the impact on fuel consumption as the speed increases, with the car shifting to a more efficient gearing ratio for the engine.

    Keep an ICE car in 3rd gear at 100 km/h vs 50 km/h and watch the fuel burn!!

    BEVs have single speed reduction gears.

    (It’s a bit more complex than that, but the basic principle is correct)

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