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Is it possible to walk across the Australian continent East to West (or W to E)? In other words, as an American, only familiar with movies/tv shows, etc, I think of Australia as a wasteland in the center. Would it be possible to backpack(hike) across as a (personal) achievement?

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    By backpack do you mean hike (walk), or do you mean backpack as in travel with a backpack by buses, staying in hostels etc? – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Feb 11 '15 at 0:54
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    Well, here in the US, one can walk the Appalachian Trail, several hundred miles. It's a great personal accomplishment. I was wondering the viability of walking Australia... or is simply too big with too great distances between towns. – CGCampbell Feb 11 '15 at 0:57
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    There is a list of people who did it on Wikipedia, which suggests it's not absolutely impossible but more of a challenge than many classic long-distance trails. – Relaxed Feb 11 '15 at 1:28
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    CGCampbell: your main problem is going to be water. There are huge stretches of what is effectively desert, with no towns for hundreds of km. You definitely cannot rely on towns for supplies- – Michael Borgwardt Feb 11 '15 at 11:01
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    Although the Appalachian Trail (~2,200mi) is about the same distance as crossing Australia (~2,400mi), the key difference is that much of Australia is almost completely empty. For example, Western Australia is literally a quarter the size of the USA but has only 2.5 million people in it. Western Australia minus the city of Perth is literally a quarter of the size of the USA but has only 500,000 people in it. – David Richerby Feb 11 '15 at 22:42
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Now that you've clarified in the comments, yes, it's entirely 'possible', but not easy, by any means. As mentioned by @Relaxed, only 37 people have been recorded successfully completing this challenge.

As an American, you'd be the 5th American citizen to complete it, if you did it now.

Some (crazy) people have even run across Australia.

One of the stories I've heard is of a guy who tried to walk from the South to the North, and he failed 3 times - due to too much water! Crazy to think of, but the cart he was pulling behind kept getting bogged down in mud north of Adelaide.

However, as you note, much of Australia is desert and pretty inhospitable, with >85% of the population living within 50km of the coast (Sorry, old stat, but if anything that's probably increased).

People have died when their cars have broken down, because of the lack of cellphone reception and almost no other traffic.

Friends drove from Sydney to Broken Hill a few weekends ago. They sometimes went 3 hours without seeing another vehicle, and there were big signs warning when there was a slight bend in the road, as so many people just zone out on the long straight roads.

So yeah, it's possible, it's an amazing achievement that very few people have been recorded as having completed, but it would not be easy by any means.

Bonus fact: Of the people who have walked around Australia, it's taken them 365–401 days to complete the walk.

  • What sort of visa do you need for a 401-day stay in Australia?! The general visitor visas seem to max out at one year. – Michael Hampton Feb 11 '15 at 4:44
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    @MichaelHampton working holiday visas can get you two years (under certain conditions), and presumably like other countries, if you have a reason you can apply for longer visas. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Feb 11 '15 at 4:46
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    +1, but it's ~400 days to walk around Australia, not across it. Crossing just east-west is obviously faster: one guy walked from Wollongong (near Sydney) to Perth in a mere 67 days, although he was smart enough to stick to the roads instead of going through the desert. illawarramercury.com.au/story/2198487/… – jpatokal Feb 11 '15 at 5:12
  • @jpatokal oops, fixed. Aside: 67 days is amazing for a crossing. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Feb 11 '15 at 5:34
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    I seriously doubt your friends. I've driven Sydney to Broken Hill and I was alone for at most 10 minutes. Maybe your friends took a particularly circuitous route. However, Sydney to Broken Hill is the least remote part of a cross-continent trek. – Hugh Feb 11 '15 at 12:16

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