Yes, that was a bit scary.
I drove for hours—Highway 1 in the middle of Australia's west coast is straight and desolate, slicing through a beautiful but brutal hot, dry, and sunny environment. I was glad to have a brand-new zippy rental car instead of one of those dilapidated rental camper vans. Plus, gas prices were nuts—at $5.69 a gallon, I'll take a Hyundai over a van any day.
I didn't make it to Cervantes. I had pulled off of Highway 1 and was along the coastal road when the sun was just hovering over the horizon. I'd seen enough warning signs about stray animals that I didn't want to travel after dark in kangaroo country. I pulled into Jurien Bay Tourist Park at really the last possible instant before the sun went down.
I started reading all the signs on the door.
And it was closed.
I panicked for a minute, standing in front of the locked reception office. Then I remembered people arriving after dark at my first campsite, the first night near Perth. They'd arrived after the office had closed.
Ah. There it was. A sign with instructions for late arrivals.
"Pick up this phone. Someone will answer."
They did. A cheerful, friendly Australian woman, about ten years older than me, showed up a minute later to check me in.
"Is there anywhere to eat around here," I asked her.
"Yes, there is a pub across the road. Better hurry though. It's Sunday night in a country town—they might close if no one is there. Set up after dinner."
I parked my car in my site—a lovely grassy site away from all the caravans—and hurried over to the bar.
The cheapest main dish on the menu? $25. That was more than my campsite!
I sucked it up and ordered.
"Would you like something to drink with that?"
Perhaps I needed to reconsider cooking for myself at night.