Perth’s ‘fast-charging’ friends circle Australia to prove an electric point

On a cold, wet Sunday afternoon Harald Murphy set off from Perth in a bid to circumnavigate Australia in his electric car.

Fourteen days and 13,550 kilometres he arrived back home.

Mr Murphy and his friend Pete Petrovsky set off from Perth in opposite directions, driving Tesla Model Y’s.

The goal of the trip was to prove it is possible to drive electric vehicles through remote parts of Australia.

“We met up at Barkly Homestead which is basically … in the centre of Australia,” Mr Murphy told Tom Baddeley on ABC Perth breakfast.

“It was quite an emotional time because we’d effectively jointly closed the loop.

“Jointly, the two cars had done one lap and [then] Pete and I separated again and we [completed] our lap.”

This was Mr Murphy’s second time completing a lap of Australia. He said not much had changed since his last trip four years ago.

“Doing a trip of this sort of magnitude anywhere west of the eastern seaboard is a slight challenge because there are some big gaps [between towns],” Mr Murphy said.

“Some local gaps are 400km, such as between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing. Unfortunately with an EV you then have to budget energy.

“The first challenge is the speed at which you can charge. The next challenge is ‘are you going to make it?'”

The long distances between towns in northern Western Australia has meant Mr Murphy could drive at only 80kph to ensure his car had enough charge until the next destination.

He said the long charging times in places without fast-chargers also made the journey more difficult to complete.

According to the Electric Vehicle Council’s charging map there are only three charging stations north of Perth: at Jurien Bay, Geraldton and Paraburdoo.

WA to get electric highway
The state’s fast charging network is set to change with the government last year announcing chargers would be installed at 45 locations from Kununurra in the north to Esperance in the south.

The first charger is due to be installed in November this year, with a contract to install the 98 chargers awarded in August.

“WA’s EV fast charging network is an important step to boost our uptake of electric vehicles, enabling drivers to travel the vast distances around the state more easily,” Premier Mark McGowan said at the time.

“This will help to reduce carbon emissions, as WA transitions to net zero by 2050.

“When completed, WA’s EV fast charging network will be the world’s longest of its kind.”

While on the eastern seaboard, Mr Murphy said he could get from Adelaide to Gundagai, via Melbourne without having to worry about range.

He said the addition of fast chargers in north-west WA would be a game-changer for electric car use.

“On that trip it was just amazing. I didn’t have to think about range, I didn’t have to think about how long it would take to charge,” Mr Murphy said.

“I just hopped in my car and drove.

“I drove the 1,200km to Gundagai without a care in the world … that’s the difference and Western Australians will experience that.”