Can you really take a long road trip in an electric vehicle?

Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a ‘short drive’ in Australia. If you’re tripping, you’re committing. Which begs the question: can you really road trip in an EV?

By Citro partner carbar

‘Range anxiety’ plagues many current and would-be Australian electric vehicle (EV) owners. It’s the nagging worry your car's battery will die out the back of nowhere, leaving you stranded with only a wary mob of kangaroos for company.

The good news is that a reliable EV charging network is growing and ready to support just about any journey. There are also plenty of new EV models on the horizon with improved battery technology that offers increased efficiency and extended driving ranges.

Tips to keep charging ahead

Before setting off on your grand EV adventure, however, it’s best to plan ahead. Here are some quick tips to make it work:

  • Always have a plan B in case your plan A charging station isn’t available
  • Try to target EV-friendly accommodation so you can charge overnight
  • Factor your charging time into your journey, allowing extra time 
  • Download a few charging station operator apps before you set off (try Chargefox, Evie, PlugShare and Tesla’s app to find its own Supercharger stations)
  • Take your own adapters to avoid any issues on the road

There are also handy tools that can help with EV trip planning, such as the navigation app A Better Route Planner (ABRP). It uses real-time data to help you calculate when, where, and for how long you'll need to charge up along your route. If your car runs the Android Automotive operating system, you can fully integrate ABRP to make your trip a breeze.

Particularly juicy road trips

To calm a bad case of range anxiety, try to make your journey one that can be done on the juice of a lithium ion battery alone. Otherwise, plan your route and know your charging stations. Have a backup charger in mind, and then a backup for your back up – just in case.  

Here’s how it might go down on popular road trips across NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

More trips here: 10 great Australian driving destinations

1. Winding along the Great Ocean Road (Victoria)

Route: Melbourne to Apollo Bay

Estimated driving time: Just under 3 hours

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's most famous drives for good reason. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Not only is the Great Ocean Road one of the best road trips in Australia, it’s also one of the most EV-friendly routes around. 

If you’re coming from Melbourne, the fast charging station at the RACV Torquay resort makes for an efficient first charging stop. There’s a backup charging option at the Walker St Car Park just down the road.

As you head towards Apollo Bay, there are a few places you’ll want to stop. Visit Erskine Falls near Lorne (there are 2 Tesla chargers at Great Ocean Road Brewhouse) – the falls are just spectacular. Take a cliff-top walk via the Surf Coast Walk at Anglesea (also worth a visit is the local kangaroo-friendly golf course). And don’t miss a wander through the beautiful redwood forest at Apollo Bay.

If you’re getting angsty before the return drive home, there are several charging options in Apollo Bay. The fastest is at the Best Western hotel, or there are 2 Evie charging bays at 14 Pascoe Street.

2. Cruising the Pacific Coast Way (Queensland)

Route: Brisbane to Cairns

Estimated driving time: About 20 hours

The east coast drive from 'top to bottom'  is on the top of many a bucket list. Image: Queensland State Archives

The highway from Brisbane to Cairns has been aptly dubbed the ‘Queensland Electric Super Highway’, with dozens of fast-chargers along its 1700 kilometres.

Easily one of Australia’s best and easiest EV road trips, chargers have been installed in spots that make sense, including shops, cafés and accommodation facilities. Which means that rest stops can double as a refuel while you stretch your legs.

The abundance of charging options means this is a drive to take at a leisurely pace. It’s a straightforward route, straight up the Bruce Highway, but there’s plenty to see and do along the way.

Recommended stops along the route include cosmopolitan Noosa for shopping and beaches; whale-watching off the coast of Hervey Bay (and a drive around K’gari if your EV happens to offer high-clearance four-wheel drive); lunchtime strolling around historic Childers; and dipping into the lagoon at Mackay to cool off. 

The turtle sanctuary at Mon Repos near Bundaberg is another highlight, plus don’t miss tucking into a giant bowl of mangoes and ice cream at the Big Mango in Bowen. It’s the ideal way to refuel as you charge ahead to your destination, the tropical paradise of Cairns.

3. Coasting the Grand Pacific Drive (NSW)

Route: Sydney to Jervis Bay

Estimated driving time: Around 2 ½ hours

The Sea Cliff Bridge is an engineering marvel that's a dream to drive. Image: Luke Zeme

There are now dozens of fast chargers along the Hume, Great Western, Mitchell, Newell, Sturt, and Oxley Highways, installed by NRMA and Transport NSW, as well as dozens more through Chargefox.

As a result, the possibilities are endless for trips in NSW, but the thing we love about the Sydney to Jervis Bay trip is that a Tesla 3 is likely to go the distance – and complete the trip on a single charge.

Just in case, there’s a high-speed charging station at Shell Cove, which is at roughly the halfway point. A five-minute stop will top you up enough to ease any impending range anxiety. Or stop for lunch and a stroll at the new marina then continue down the coast on full charge – it’s totally up to you.

The sweeping ocean views (especially along the Sea Cliff Bridge) are what make the Grand Pacific Drive special, but there are plenty of great stopovers if you want to make a day of it. There’s the lovely lagoon and waterfall at Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park; a spectacular lookout at Stanwell Tops; remarkably uncrowded beaches across the whole of Wollongong; one of the southern hemisphere’s biggest Buddhist temples, Nan Tien Temple at Berkeley; the ridiculously-quaint towns of Kiama, Gerroa, Berry and Gerringong; and the pristine aqua waters of Jervis Bay itself.

There aren’t many official charging options once you’re in Jervis Bay, so be sure to get a full charge on your way through. Options include at Silo’s Estate on the outskirts of Berry; the Woolworths at Bomaderry; Basha’s Floors and Blinds in central Nowra; and Worrigee Sports as you head out from Nowra towards Greenwell Point.

Our top pick of where to stay in Jervis Bay is Huskisson. It’s in the heart of the bay which makes it the perfect base for diving, snorkelling, sailing, kayaking and fishing. It’s an achievable day trip from Sydney, but like any good road trip, we’d advise you to pause for a while and make a weekend of it.

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