Tasmania by EV
What it’s like to go on holiday driving an electric vehicle
By Jenny Ringland
It was with a burning desire to escape, connect with nature and to be anywhere but in our house over summer that we embarked on a family trip to Tasmania. As Australia’s only island state, getting there is either by air or sea and thanks to the pandemic hire cars are scarce and eye wateringly expensive. Which created a bit of a conundrum for us, was a trip to experience some of the most beautiful remote landscape Australia has to offer worth the expense?
As it turns out, electric vehicles are becoming more easily accessible, and through the lens of being curious about new ways to tread lighter and make small, incremental change in the way we live our life, we embarked on the adventure of a holiday for a family of five in a Nissan LEAF, a hatchback EV.
Compact living in an EV
My husband’s initial reaction was cynical, he half jokingly suggested we might need two EV’s in order to fit a week’s worth of stuff for two adults and three children in a small car. But I was determined to give it a try. So we packed light, the kids shared a suitcase, my husband and I had a small bag each, and it turns out that’s all you really need. All our belongings, including the kid’s haul from environmentally progressive toy store Plato’s, located just off the main square at Salamanca Market, fit easily in the boot, with room to spare.
Exploring Hobart and its surrounds is perfectly suited to a car with a battery range of 315km. We park and ride the ferry to Mona, spend a day exploring Richmond and its surrounds, stopping at wildlife zoo ZooDoo to see a Tasmanian Devil (at our animal mad eight year old’s request) and visit Tasmania’s first certified environmentally sustainable vineyard, Pooley Wines.
Our Airbnb, a cute sandstone cottage in West Hobart, doesn’t have access to an external powerpoint, and given the charge also naturally reduces each night if it’s not plugged in, after a couple of days we are nearing 60 per cent charge, which makes us feel nervous. The fear of running the battery flat is very valid, especially as pulling up to a public charging station means waiting an hour or two for the charge to restore (it’s not the instant fix of a petrol station we are all accustomed to).
However the universe intervenes, a chance dinner at a friend’s place in Taroona, one of Hobart’s beach side suburbs, provides easy access to their garage from the street, and powerpoint to boot. The few hours we spend there is enough to top us back up over 70 per cent, which is plenty to get us to our next destination.
The wonderful thing about Tasmania is how quickly you can go from buying fresh seafood dockside in Hobart to feeling like you are in one of the most remote parts of Australia in only an hour and a half. Bruny Island is a case in point. It’s an hour and a half from Hobart, including the duration of the ferry ride across The D’Entrecasteaux Channel, and once you are there, even in the spots frequented by tourists, like Get Shucked, the island’s oyster offering which includes drive through service, a feeling of remoteness, disconnection and connection to nature arrives in a gradual wave that’s hard to say goodbye to when we eventually leave.
Our home for the next four days is in a little fibro shack, typical of the island, at Adventure Bay. It’s so compact and fuss-free that we can park under one of its windows and feed in the charging lead straight into a powerpoint in the lounge room. Charging success! One of the things we are loving about our adventure is how good it feels to navigate driving an EV and getting to celebrate all the little wins along the way. It’s become a family talking point and the kids embrace our new way of travel as much as we do.
We visit Adventure Bay General Store on the afternoon of our arrival to stock up on local produce, and there next to the petrol bowser is an EV charging station. For an island with a local population of around 200, it shows just how environmentally progressive Tasmania really is and how well suited it is to travel life powered by battery.
Adventure Bay is what all our Tasmanian dreams are made of, crystal clear ocean, white sand, with a rugged coastline, bulging with wildlife that could just as easily be Thailand as it is Australia. We go on bush walks, spend afternoons fishing, and quickly adjust to the slow life, made possible thanks to very patchy mobile service.
On our last day on Bruny Island we drive to the opposite side of the small island, to South Bruny National Park. We stop to pay the entry fee, and a ranger comes to chat, he’s fascinated that we’re all squeezed into a hatchback but even more interested in the fact it’s electric, which has been a common theme over the week, the car gets noticed a lot, and people are curious about what it’s like, but mostly impressed that we’re traveling in one.
We walk the lighthouse walk, marvel at the lighthouse keepers’ old cottages, and the life they must have led at such a wild outpost. Then it’s a dirt winding road down to Cloudy Bay, which is a wonder, all rolling waves, rocky outcrops and tales of adventurers drawn to the unforgiving coastline.
The trip back to Hobart is an easy one, and we are sad our week-long holiday is coming to an end. The combination of being virtually off-grid, experiencing remote wilderness and all the beauty of nature we had hoped for, our pandemic drained cups have been filled and we know one thing for sure, we will be back.