Testing out the new Tesla charging station at the Macadamia Castle in the Northern Rivers.
Testing out the new Tesla charging station at the Macadamia Castle in the Northern Rivers. Courtesy of Glen Sanders

Introducing the Northern Rivers' first electric car station

FIVE Tesla cars pulled up at the Macadamia Castle on Tuesday but drivers weren't foraging for nuts: they came to charge up at the first Northern Rivers electric station.

Castle owner, Tony Gilding, officially opened the station Wednesday with Nationals' MLC Ben Franklin in a flurry of excitement as reporters and onlookers vied for a joy ride.

Mr Gilding came from a family of high profile "greenies" and said his latest project was built upon existing eco-friendly initiatives at his tourist attraction.

The station will allow Tesla drivers to travel from Melbourne to Brisbane knowing they have somewhere to charge up for the final stretch of the Pacific Highway and Mr Gilding hopes it will draw more tourists to the Byron region.

 

The charging port of a Tesla car is tucked beneath a back light.
The charging port of a Tesla car is tucked beneath a back light. Mia Armitage

Mr Franklin, who described himself as "a lowly backbencher", said he wanted the Northern Rivers to be "the California of Australia" by developing an industry in renewable energy research and development and was looking forward to discussing ideas for tech start-up initiatives with 2017's Northern Rivers' business chamber head, Jane Laverty.

"I'm a rev head," said Vicki Brook, who looked a candidate least likely for the title in white linen pants and resort-style top, happily describing family trips with the grandkids and dog riding in the back of her crisp white Tesla bought in May for $140,000.

 

Vicki Brooke, of Eureka in the Northern Rivers, shows off her Tesla key ring for the $140,000 electric car she bought in May.
Vicki Brooke, of Eureka in the Northern Rivers, shows off her Tesla key ring for the $140,000 electric car she bought in May. Mia Armitage

But behind the wheel, Ms Brook showed how her hot set of wheels went from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in less than four seconds: the "revs", however, were silent.

"It's hard to wrap your head around the fact that there is no engine," she said, "the motors are in the wheels and underneath".

 

The popped bonnet of a Tesla car is empty save for windscreen wiper fluid.
The popped bonnet of a Tesla car is empty save for windscreen wiper fluid. Mia Armitage

"People ask if it's an auto or a manual but there are no such things in Teslas, although they've given us a lever to mimic gears.

"Think of it like a light switch, you just turn it on and off and that's it."

Ms Brooke said the longest road trip she'd driven in her Tesla was from her home in the Byron hinterland village of Eureka to Coffs Harbour and she'd managed to drive to Brisbane and back - nearly 400 kilometres - on a single charge, now possible at Macadamia Castle in thirty minutes.

"I charge it at home using my solar panels," she said "but I'm looking forward to getting electric backups too."

Mr Franklin said he "would strongly support" a government fleet of electric cars but ruled out subsidising Teslas for the public.

He said "it would be utterly appropriate for buses" to transition towards electric motors and gave the example of Sydney's recent light rail project as a step in the right direction for public transport.

"I would be happy to be part of a group looking at light rail in Byron but I need to see the report first," he said when asked for an opinion on a renewed push by Byron Shire Council for a connection between Billinudgel and Bangalow.

"As a government, we know we have a great deal to do to meet the carbon emission targets we have set for 2050."



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