A while ago, I figured out why it is that Top Gear hate caravans.
It's not just because being stuck in a four-mile tail-back behind a Morris Oxford towing a 1986 Chateau La Car is even more frustrating when you're attempting to review a 900-horsepower quad-turbo Lamborghini Testicoli Enormi. It's also because Top Gear are in the UK, and I think caravanning in the UK is like metal-detector-ing in Australia.
There are few places in the UK that are worth dragging a little mobile house to. Cornwall's nice enough, but it has hotels, as do the other parts of the UK that try with varying plausibility to present themselves as holiday destinations.
OK, maybe you enjoy being able to have a fry-up breakfast out of the rain and then tramp around a different soggy piece of Scotland every couple of days. But this is stretching it.
Here in Australia, on the other hand, we have large amounts of beach and forest and low-but-wide mountain ranges that are not within convenient distance of a motel. You can easily spend a year driving around this place and still have failed to come within a hundred kilometres of enough land area to make up what most people call a country. OK, a signficant amount of that area is one of our many great expanses of nothing much...
...but there's still a lot of Australia out there.
The whole of Australia has an area of more than 7.6 million square kilometres. But Australia's population is less than 23 million, versus 62 million and change for the UK. (Australia's population is about 15% more than that of New York state.) And most of the Australian population is crammed into little strips on the coast.
Result: An awful lot of wilderness where you could play with a howitzer for weeks without hitting anyone. If you're crossing those distances, a little towed house can be convenient.
If you make a hobby out of metal-detecting in Australia, though, you're not likely to find anything very interesting. Humans have been here for tens of thousands of years, but until Europeans showed up and commenced doing what they usually do, the indigenous Australians didn't have any metal at all.
You can find plenty of stuff if you swing a metal detector around in any vaguely habitable part of Australia, but the most antiquitous items you're likely to locate are ring-pulls.
Oh, and you're not going to find any gold, either. There are still plenty of places in Australia where you can pan for gold successfully - which is to say, at the end of the day you'll have a clearly visible collection of gold-specks in a little vial, which may be worth as much as fifty cents. But our most recent gold rush was well over a century ago. You're more likely to find a fist-sized meteorite than you are to find a gold nugget, and you are not likely to find a fist-sized meteorite.
If you live in the UK, on the other hand, then just going into your back garden and digging a hole will very probably find you some Roman pottery, or even coins. The pottery will probably be worthless broken shards and the coins will probably be equally worthless lumps of corroded bronze, but they'll still be more than a thousand years old.
If Tony Robinson et al came to Australia to dig places up, they might be able to find something a couple of hundred years old in Sydney, or perhaps an interesting geological specimen out in the sticks, but that's about it.
Am I missing something, here? I invite comments from any Britons who gain deep fulfilment from caravanning the Grampians, or Australians who metal-detected a gold bar on Coogee Beach.