Remote tourism business looks to the sun

Adels Grove, Lawn Hill Gorge
Adels Grove, Lawn Hill Gorge

A solar powered boat at a remote western Queensland eco tourist resort has improved the experience enjoyed by visitors and boosted the bottom line.

Adels Grove is almost as remote as you can get being 3500km from Brisbane on the Queensland/Northern Territory border, 1200km west from Innisfail, and 340km north from Mount Isa, which is the nearest supply point.

It is located 10km from the Lawn Hill Gorge, Boodjamulla National Park, and 50km from the World Heritage Riversleigh Fossil fields.

The major tourist attraction is the Lawn Hill Gorge and previously, on-the-water access was only by means of canoes. However, this was difficult for many visitors and, as petrol outboard powered craft is ruled off limits by Queensland National Parks (QNP), the full gorge experience was being missed. To improve accessibility to the site, the owners of Adels Grove worked with QNP and renewable energy company Q Energy Solutions to convert two 10-passenger tourist boats – originally designed for operation with a 9hp petrol driven outboard motor – to solar power as an environmentally friendly and commercially-viable alternative.

“We devised the solar system using eight Trina Solar panels arranged on the roof in two strings of four, connecting to SunXtender batteries. The motor is a Torqueedo 4hp 48V electric motor replacing its petrol equivalent, a Honda 4 stroke 9.9. As a result, visitors can now the travel in a solar electric powered boat to see the scenic majesty of the gorge from the water,” Q Energy Solutions director Matt Brewster said.

“The boat cruises at 4km/h during daylight hours and, as a result the battery voltage, remains above 53VDC, ensuring the batteries are maintained at 100 per cent and the boat is powered directly from the panels.

“In operation it is very quiet; just a low hum, which is important in such a tranquil setting.”

Adels Grove owner Michelle Low Mow said she’s now planning to build 10 more rooms using solar power, with a view to phase out the diesel generation system in the near future.