When it comes to travelling to distant parts of Australia, even many Aussies are surprised at the distances involved. The width of the mainland, east to west, is 4,000 km as the crow flies, and a deal more by road. If you were planning to drive around the country, you’d be looking at a distance of at least about 15,000 kms, and possibly quite a bit more, depending on how many nooks and crannies you visited. (And a fair proportion of that distance would be on roads that are not exactly expressways.)
This map makes the point rather graphically:
Five countries (Germany, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland and Japan), plus Texas, are superimposed on a map of Australia – and they fit in with plenty of room to spare. In fact all together they take up only about a quarter of the space.
Their total population is about 307 million, whereas Australia’s is only about 22.7 million. Combine those statistics, and you can discover that Australia’s average population density (about 3 per square km) is only one fiftieth of the average population density of those other places (150 per square km).
Australia’s population is heavily concentrated around the coastal fringe, which in turn means that the population density in the Outback is way less than 3 per square km. The average population density for the whole of the Northern Territory including Darwin is only 0.2 per square km, so I’d guess there’d be large areas of the Outback with average population density of no more than one person for every 20 or 30 square kms.
Which in turn begs the question of how big a population Australia can reasonably support. I’ll save my opinion on that for a later post. In the meantime, please feel free to submit a comment with your opinion.