SolarTuk Expedition visits Shepparton

By Madeleine Byron

The world’s most unlikely expedition vehicle, the tuk tuk, has been transformed into a sustainable form of transport by a team of young extraordinaires making its way across Australia.

Across the next three weeks, the SolarTuk Expedition will venture across the east coast to the Great Barrier Reef in the Thai-made, three-wheeled, sun-powered, long-range electric vehicle to promote sustainable transport and a low-carbon future.

Unbound chief executive officer Julian O’Shea teamed up with RMIT University to complete the three-month project.

Unbound, an education start-up, works with Australian universities to develop innovative global education programs for students.

Mr O’Shea said the real reason behind the project was to encourage Australia to think about sustainable travel.

The tuk tuk can transport up to six people at a time, not including the driver.

‘‘We want a lot of young people to think around technology and ideas and bring new things to life and have a lot of fun doing it,’’ he said.

Departing Melbourne on Sunday, the team enjoyed the stopover in Shepparton before moving up the coast.

‘‘Our goal is to get there in just over three weeks, definitely by Christmas,’’ Mr O’Shea said.

He said the team had big plans for phase two of the project to venture further around the world next year.

‘‘If we can get across Australia we’ll come back for Christmas, but the tuk tuk, fingers crossed it survives, it will embark on a global trip,’’ Mr O’Shea said.

‘‘In short, it should run smoothly, but there is a lot of electronics behind it that if it goes well we’re happy and if it doesn’t, we’ve got to catch up.’’

SolarTuk Expedition leader Carl Moir said he was excited to be in Shepparton and to experience what everyone had planned for sustainable energy.

‘‘We went and hung out with Diamond Energy and they charged us up for a little bit on bio gas from the poo of Shepparton,’’ he said.

‘‘I think we all know that coal is doing more damage than good and the sooner we can find new options the better and it’s really cool to see that happening here in Shepparton.’’

The duo agreed the core of the project was to show that there were sustainable travel options out there and for Australia to build them for a sustainable future.

‘‘We’re not setting any land speed records, the top speed of the tuk tuk is 50k an hour, with a daily range of 300k, so a lot of that time is having conversations with people and groups and schools,’’ Mr O’Shea said.

To follow the SolarTuk Expedition’s progress, visit