Riding a motorcycle in the Atlas Mountains

While the High Atlas Mountains with some passes over 3000 metres on some of the back roads that catch the headlines there is a lot more to the Atlas Mountains. The Middle Atlas to the north and the Anti Atlas to the south also offer some amazing riding.

Along the Atlantic Coast just north of Agadir the roads ride there wind up into the middle Atlas through Paradise Valley to the Cascades at Imouzzer des Ita Outanane.

Unfortunately because of the drought the Cascade was dry but the ride is worth the trip in itself. As is the beautiful Cascades Hotel

While most of the roads are bitumanised and pretty well maintained some of the dirt roads were more challenging on a big road bike.

But the views are worth it.

Into the High Atlass

The climb into the High Atlas Mountains offers a astonishing contrast to its neighbour the desert.

Its hard to believe that 3 days ride from Chegaga, the biggest sand sea in Morocco, you are in the mountains headed by Jeb Toubkal, at approximately 4,200 metres the highest mountain in North Africa.

From the desert there a few roads up to to the High Atlas, most of which take the traveller to Marrakech. But going via the Tiz n Test. The madness of the big city can be avoided.

Ok. So went to Morocco but not Marrakech!

Imlil is the main village in the High Atlass but others like Ouraganie on the TiznTest and Azmizmiz in the Anti Atlas a quite local Berber Villages with good accomodation.

The High Atlas and its Berber Culture is and amazing riding, travelling and cultural experience.

You may catch some high altitude soccer training.

Or buy a Berber rug

The motorcycle riding in the Atlas, high, mid and anti is something special. A topic for the next blog.

Tetuan to Chefchouan along the Mediterranean coast and in the Riff Mountains

Tetuan is just inland from the Mediterranean coast and invites the rider to take the long ride route Chefchouan along the coast any over the Riff Mountains.

In the centre of Tetuan is the Royal Palace on the edge of the old Medina. The Palace was a centre of authority the then Morocco Spanish protectorate.

There is a door into the old Medina on each side of the Palace and one of those doors led to a riad and a room for the night.

GPS is great but some times it’s not totally accurate and does not have any social sensitivity function.

This is where a saviour tout comes into there own. This is a local tout who you have ignored as one rides blithely on toward the pedestrian area. Who chases you up the pedestrian mall. And when you finally stop wondering why the military guys up ahead are looking quite quizzically at you.

The saviour tout appears in front of the bike and says ‘you can’t be here. That is the Kings Palace. You will be fined if you go further. Please follow me’

It’s only with the bike safely parked in secure parking and sipping tea in the comfortable Riad that one realises that all touts aren’t bad and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

I have to admit my love for the services of touts was soon tempered in the Medina where every little twist and turn revealed a new tout trying to guide, sell, or befriend the unwary tourist.

By Chefchouan it had dawned on me that while whipping through the narrow streets of old towns on a scooter was a very different thing to navigating them on a fully loaded Moto Guzzi Breva 1100.

Ah the simplicity of a parking bay in a modern hotel!

Chefchouan is a relatively small city in the high lands of the Riff Mountains. It’s known as the blue city as this is the predominant colour in the Medina.

Chefchouan was far more relaxed the either Tanger or Tetuan. I guess a change of pace that is a difference between city and rural life in all parts of the world.

Also the desire to get to the desert in the south east meant it was just overnight stops along the way so maybe not doing these cities justice.

Travel is always full of compromise.

Australia’s borders are open, its autumn, and time to contemplate Northern Hemisphere Travel

Summer has flowed into autumn in Melbourne, Australia

At my local beach the water is cool and clear

So clean you feel like you could reach out and grab a handful of sea lettuce and just munch it

But in late February, Australia’s international borders opened post covid and my mind had turned to travel again to the Northern Hemisphere and the motorbike I have stored in England

Time for another European Adventure , and maybe with a touch of North Africa.

It was time to get used to riding my Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 again. The same bike as I have in England.

The Mighty Breva was 3,000 km short of its next service. Perfect for a return trip to NSW to enjoy that beautiful part of Australia and catch up with friends.

So it was time to hit the highway and byways.

Pick up some uninvited company on the way

Then head over the Waterfall Way

To the Northern NSW Coast.

I still believe the beaches of Northern NSW are the best I’ve seen in all my travels. Unfortunately due to the heavy recent rains the water was a murky brown rather than the usual blue.

The Arawarra Fish Traps are a legacy of the aboriginal aquaculture in this area.

At high tine the traps are hardly visible.

But at low tine the intricate stonework of the traps are revealed.

And a trip to this area is not complete without a ride in the mountain rainforest.

Unfortunately the changeable and wild weather that has been happening on Australia’s east coast cut my time and I had to come back to Melbourne early.

As I had a swim this afternoon this tern was flying overhead.

Its soon time for me to fly

In a couple of weeks its across the world to England to see my sister, collect my Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 stored there and then head across Spain to Morocco to recommence the journey of adventure there, which was cut short by pandemic in 2020.

The settlement of the Western Australian Wheatbelt around York and the Family chases gold.

Well readers you can see why this blog is called a discontinuous narrative as I bounce back a few posts and rejoin the tale of my Great Grand Father Edmund Cahill and his pioneering life in Western Australia.

At the end of my post (https://piecemealadventurer.com/2021/11/08/with-time-served-in-fremantle-gaol-then-it-was-on-to-york/ ) Edmund had settled and become a successful farmer in the settlement of York. The first inland colonial settlement in Western Australia established in 1830.

The rolling hills around York and a ready water supply from the Avon River made the area favourable for grazing and by 1851 convicts, like Edmund, were sent to the area to expand the settlements and to colonise the lands.

Convicts built new settlements like Toodyay 64 km, north of York, where the old mill and hotel show its early prosperity. Northam become the major town in the district when the trainline to the gold towns further west was routed through it.

Settlements like Greenhills have all but disappeared with only the old pub left.

Others like Beverly have reborn as areas of tourism and art.

As settlement spread more and more the Ngoongar Aboriginal people were displaced. But they never ceded their land.

In the 1847 Spanish monks had established a monastical village, New Norcia as a base for missionary activities in Western Australia. It was here the many aboriginal children stolen from their parents were trained as maids and servants and deprived of their own ancient culture.

In Northam the Bilya Koort Boodja Aboriginal Cultural Centre provides in its building the story of dispossession, the frontier wars and the families broken and the children taken away.

The treatment of the Australian Aborigines, the disrespect for and destruction of their culture, is in my view marks the worst aspect of European colonisation. It was a brutal destruction. I think there is nothing more emblematic of the destruction of the culture than the stealing of Aboriginal children form their parents, a process that was undertaken in Australia for 100 years from 1869 -1969 as part of the policy of Australian Governments.

Despite it all this, below is the last piece a visitor reads before leaving the centre.

Edmund and his brother were most likely part of this dispossession as they successfully farmed their land. Young Irish convicts themselves stolen from their family and land, having been driven to stealing by the famine and the seizing of crops and livestock by the English overlords . Transported from their homeland that had been struck by famine and forced on a long dangerous voyage to the hot dry strange land.

They also pined for home. The Tipperary School in York an example of the Irish calling out to home.

But for Edmund, his wife Bridget and family, success in farming wasn’t enough and when in 1887 gold was found nearly 300 km west of York followed the gold rush to the new settlement of Southern Cross. In Southern Cross there is a monument to the pioneers. The Shovel and Pick representing the miners and the Scythe and Rake representing the farmers.

In moving to Southern Cross they really did start a new life. Edmund changed his name to Edward and claimed to be 10 years younger than his age. Why he did this is unclear. Whether it was to escape his convict past or to make himself available for a position suitable for a younger man or some other reason, Im left to guess. Its a sign of the times that a man who was prominent in society could make such a change.

Edward lived in Southern Cross until his passing on 24 April 1895 at the reported aged of 55. (but he was born in Ireland in 1830 so really 65). On the edge of Southern Cross there is a list of those who were buried in the original cemetery (now destroyed)

In the Southern Cross Museum I found a transcript of Edmund/Edward’s obituary which had been posted in the Southern Cross Herald. It states he was ‘one of the first residents of the town’, ‘was held in high esteem’ and ‘was a former resident of York’.

But the family had contracted gold fever and following Edmunds death Bridget and her two youngest children, Patrick (My Grandfather) and Michael with their families headed further east, to the edge of the desert, chasing gold that had been found in and around Kalgoorlie. That’s a tale for another time.

In my journey through Australia last year I was determined to make myself open to Australian Aboriginal culture and through that make my own connection to the land. It has been an experience that has affected my greatly and has allowed me to at least have some understanding of aboriginal connection to the land and how beautiful and powerful that is.

Seeking out my family history at the same time allowed me to feel the longing for their homeland my fore bares felt and to some small extent maybe I do. Maybe its my once ginger hair which is part of the Celtic gene that makes me feel that way.

I have travelled to Ireland twice and will likely return again. On my last visit there, (look for Ireland in the drop down menus) I was in a pub in Bantry. I had just finished a pint of Guinness when another was plonked in front of me. I looked up at the barman and was about to speak when he said – ‘the boss said you have an Irish head on ya, this ones on the house’ – says it all really!