My first car, bought the day the Covid 19 lockdowns started.

How to drive from Canberra to Adelaide in a Tesla

In the age of Covid 19

It’s almost xMass and typically, each year, I like to get over to Adelaide, South Australia to catch up with family and friends during that period of enforced annual leave. Normally I’d fly. This year however I’m very keen to attempt the drive, having finally bought myself my first car.

When I was about 14 years old my father asked me what kind of car I thought I’d get when I grew up. My response was that I didn’t think I really wanted a car, so much as I wanted a robot to carry me around at high speed, and it had to be electric. That seemed obvious to me, given when I was 14 the world was in the middle of the OPEC Oil crisis and it was not uncommon for people to believe that electric cars were just around the corner.

Dad, if memory serves, said something along the lines of “you’ll be waiting a long time then.” and I suppose he was right.

Some 40 years later I bought my first car; a Long Range Tesla model 3 with the full-self-driving options. Hence my determination to drive it back for xMass. Dad’s in his mid-80s now and, realistically, who knows how many more opportunities I will get to show off my fancy electric self-driving car to him and say “I told you so.”

The route

Driving from Canberra to Adelaide in a Tesla is fairly straightforward. There is a good network of both high-speed superchargers, and lower speed destination chargers along the direct route, cutting directly through the state of Victoria.

The plan, as per the diagram below, is to leave home in Canberra late in the afternoon and drive directly to the town of Albury on the NSW / Vic border, via a quick boost at Gundagai. I’ll stop the night in Albury and recharge the car at a the free destination charger the motel offers (there’s lots of motels with destination chargers in Albury, as well as a proper supercharger in Wodonga over the border if I get stuck).

The following morning I will drive over the border into Victoria (no permit needed) and then head to Bendigo where I’ll charge at a supercharger for 20 minutes or so before driving to on to Horsham, also in Victoria, for another 20 minute stop to recharge.

From Horsham I head to Bordertown and cross into South Australia (permit needed), then stop for half an hour in the scenic town of Keith. From there its an easy drive down to Adelaide, where I should arrive with around 35% charge remaining.

A Better Route Planner is the indispensable tool for EV travel planning.

Covid Complications

2020 is no ordinary year. The various restrictions around interstate travel that were put in place by state governments in order to neutralise the threat of Covid-19 have made travel planning a lot more complex.

As it currently stands, travel from Victoria into South Australia is only permitted via Mildura in the far north of Victoria, and then down via the Riverland. That’s fine and dandy if you have an ICE car, as petrol and diesel are readily available, but it’s a five day trip in an EV as the charging infrastructure is lacking along that route.

The restrictions put in place by the SA Government on travel from Victoria will be lifted tomorrow (1 Dec 2020), so my planned journey is possible with the following provisos.

  1. While I won’t need a permit to enter New South Wales from the ACT, or to enter Victoria from NSW, I will need a permit to enter South Australia. This is available the South Australian Police Force and must be obtained in advance of travel. I have been advised to fill this form in as soon as possible after 9am Adelaide Time on 1 December as there will be a significant delay in processing.
  2. I will need to articulate if I am transiting through a state and in what states I will be stopping. According to SAPOL, stopping includes recharging, going to a servo (adding air to tyres for example), indeed anything at all that involves me pulling the car over and getting out of it. Even a quick roadside piss counts as stopping.
  3. Due to the recent outbreaks of Covid 19 in Adelaide I will need to complete cross border travel forms for every state and territory I cross back into when leaving South Australia (see links below)
  4. The situation is extremely fluid, with new Covid hotspots emerging on a daily basis, so there is no guarantee I’ll be able to get back home in a timely manner.

In summary, the route I plan on taking will be possible as of tomorrow, but there is no guarantee for how long, or whether I will be able to get back. Fortunately for me I am able to work from pretty much anywhere there is a decent internet connection so being stuck in Adelaide, with all that good food and wine the city is rightly famous for, and my family and friends, doesn't sound too arduous to me. I’ll take my chances.


Permit going over

Permits coming back

Other Information

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