Top map: I keep saying that Australia’s about the same size as the continental United States. Here’s a map that overlays one over the other.
The United States has 327 million people. Australia has less than 25 million. Even crazier, half of all Aussies live in those three dark blue areas shown on the second map — Melbourne at the south, Sydney in the middle and Brisbane in the north — coastal cities less than 1100 miles apart.
Here’s a good comparison: Seattle, Portland and San Francisco also have about 12,000,000 residents and sit roughly as far apart as Melbourne and Brisbane. Imagine if half the population of the United States lived in those three cities and the rest of the country was virtually empty. Same situation.
Most of Australia sits eerily empty. We once drove straight down the middle of the country from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. We left Darwin (population 120,000), spent one night in Katherine (population 6631), the second night in Tennant Creek (population 2221), the third night in Alice Springs (population 25,186) and the fourth night in Coober Pedy (population 2,762). Those are virtually the only towns along that 1865 mile route.
Eerily empty, indeed.