Destination Sydney
Dates 2018-01-18 to 2018-01-28
Transport Tesla Model S
Purpose conference and holiday

In 2018 I attended LCA2018 and gave a talk on Robotica. Mum and the three kids we are caring for also came to Sydney with me.

See details of the conference LCA2018.

Transport to Sydney

Mum and I took turns driving my Tesla Model S. Unfortunately it was very hot driving and this made the stops more tedious as it meant getting out of the air conditioned car into the roasting sun. However we did need to stop, more often then the car needed charging as us drivers needed regular breaks. It was rare for us to be waiting for the car to charge, more often the car was waiting for us.

On the first day we stopped at Euroa for recharging and lunch. We then proceeded to Wondonga for another recharging and to buy things for tea. Due to the high temperatures I dropped the others off at the nearby indoor shopping centre and then drove to the supercharger to recharge. While I was waiting for the car to recharge I walked to the indoor shopping centre. It was only 10 minutes walk but very hot. We then made several more stops at small places, before stopping the night at Hillview Farmstay, a place near Gundagai.

I originally picked this place because it has a 4 bedroom apartment (The Lodge) we could book, which is ideal with two adults and 3 kids. The plan was 1 adult in one bedroom each, the twins in another bedroom, and the youngest in a bedroom of her own. This did not go to plan, the youngest did not like sleeping by herself, and ended up sharing a bedroom with one of the adults.

I was also surprised to find that they had two Tesla 3 phase chargers, which meant my car was fully charged within several hours of arriving. This was very convenient.

On the second day we made a number of extra stops at places like Yea and Cambeltown. We did not want to arrive in Sydney during peak period, so did not try to hurry. We also had lunch and recharged the car at Goulburn. We were planning to go to Sydney via M5, the south route, but Google suggested due to traffic it would be faster to go via M7 and M2, instead. It probably cost more in tolls though.

We intended to charge the car at the St Leonards supercharger. Unfortunately the car navigation intended on us turning right into Tesla from Herbert Street, which is not legal because Herbert street has double lines through the entire section. We ended up having to turn right onto another road, make a U-Turn away from the double lines, and come back. This supercharger is not in a great location for entertaining kids. According to Google Maps there is a Children's Playground not far away, at the North end of Naremburn Park. We walked there and found it was locked, and aimed at children younger then our kids anyway. In the end we waited on the bridge above the train line and watched trains go past.

At Sydney we stayed at a three bedroom apartment, at Meriton Suites, World Tower. This was eventful trying to find the correct parking spots. The sign said "private parking" and looked like it required a PIN for entry. I ended up going around the city block and back to the same place again, and we followed another car in. We were told this was the correct parking. Later on I looked at the PIN entry keypad, only two find it had two buttons clearly marked "PRESS HERE". Oh well. I must have been tired. Still, it would have been good if the sign also said this was for guest parking.

Public Transport

After using Melbourne public transport for numerous years, it is interesting to compare with Sydney. There are some aspects I much prefer with Sydney's public transport, there are some aspects I hate.

The ongoing dispute with the train drivers did not prove a problem for us.

  • The Sydney city loop is bidirectional, and the trains at the same platforms go in the same direction around the loop all day. This is much easier to understand then Melbourne, were some of the loop lines swap direction around midday, and depending on configuration it isn't possible to travel from any arbitrary station to any other station in the loop, because the trains are heading in the wrong direction.
  • Opal is fast and responsive. I also like the mobile application, which allows me to read the card balance instantly from the card. Further more, trip details from trains seem to show up instantly on the mobile application, as opposed Myki where the do not show up until the next day.
  • Often if you held you Opal card too long against the touch on device, it would interpret this as two transactions, the first one successful, the second one producing an error. This is very confusing. We weren't the only people having this problem. Possibly this is due to the (bad) habit gathered from using Myki where you have to hold the Myki to the reader until the reader wakes up and processes it.
  • Google maps has real time information on buses. Very good.
  • I found the bus routes in the city very confusing. The fact bus stops do not have maps does not help. Instead they have a list of routes and destinations. This does not help with questions like: What bus do I catch to get from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to Museum station?
  • On one such trip, Google said I should catch the 436 bus (note route numbers are from memory), which was several minutes away (and 5 minutes early). It came right when Google said it would, but it did not stop. I do not know why it did not stop. I caught the next bus, which Google also said I should catch. The 433 bus. It terminated at the Central station, which was a very short (and expensive) trip. It would have been better to walk.
  • The buses I caught and some of the trains don't have automatic announcements concerning next stop information. This makes it hard to work out where you are if you are a visitor.
  • On another trip in the other direction, Google neglected to show the route of the 1st bus (M30 from memory), and instead preferred the 2nd bus (which ended up following the 1st bus).
  • The daily limit for fares in Sydney is relatively high. However the fares generally end up being cheaper then Melbourne because we never reached the daily limit. Except for Sunday, where the daily limit is $2.60. This does mean however that every trip does cost extra, unlike in Melbourne where you effectively get free trips once you reach the daily limit.

Return Trip

The return trip was cooler on the first day, although hot on the second day. We drove on the southern route out of Sydney, via the cross city tunnel. The only drama was not being able to find the entrance to the cross city tunnel until we were next to it. So we had go around the largish block and try again. The 2nd attempt was successful. We basically followed the same route and made similar stops on the trip to Sydney, including the stay at Hillview Farmstay. On this trip the owner of the Farm also gave as a tour of the farm and we fed some of the animals.

Conclusion

Interesting experience, interesting drive. However it was a long drive. When I go to PyConAu in Sydney this August, I think I will fly as I don't think I would be able to drive all the way to Sydney and back myself.