The Atlantic Coast of Morocco

Mirleft is a lovely village on the Atlantic Coast between the cities of Agadir and Sidi Infi. While it is a small village now there is a lot of building development happening and in a short time hotels and resorts will dominate the beaches.

To get to Mirleft I chose a route through the Anti Atlas to Tiznit from Imlil in the High Atlas. This route was over small back roads and villages and avoided the business and hub bub of Marrakech. The type of thing I like. It’s an easy day ride this way from the High Atlas to the coast.

Between Mirleft and Legzira and its famous arches if you keep your eye out you might just find a rough dirt track leading down to the a deserted beach where you can find a deserted piece of the African Atlantic Coast.

The coast like between Mirleft and Sidi Infi is dramatic and beautiful, especially the rock arches around Legzira. Some of which you can only see from.the clifftop edge.

As I said Mirleft is changing quickly. The centre of the old town it’s own charm with the main street a line of blue painted arches.

One of those blue arched building houses a licenced premise. A different type of oasis in Morocco!

Well friends and followers there are more tales of Morocco to come over the last couple of weeks I’ve been in Spain and now Portugal. So time to change focus and enjoy the moment.

The run south to the Moroccan desert

Heading south east from Chefchouan through the middle Atlas there was warning of the hot dry run ahead.

Morocco has been in a drought for the last three years and the signs were there to tell getting drier every kilometre travelled south.

The mighty rivers were streams, streams were dry and in the dust of dry oasis the date palms struggled for survival.

Heading through the towns of Zaida, a bustling highway town, and Midelt, with its big apple, the trucks full of hay and the produce in the roadside stalls added colour to the scene but the air was dry and dusty.

But I guess it was coming down the Ziz Gorge and seeing the Ziz river just flowing bought home to me the extent of the drought.

Droughts are something we are used to in Australia.

Along the Ziz the date palm plantations still looked green

By Rissani 600 km further south and Zegora, futher on, the green had faded.

But this far south it’s the edge of the desert and that has its own charms.

And the hotels which are largely good and well priced offer there own little oasis.

M’hamad is the end of the road leading to the desert. The wonderful sand sea of Chegaga (see a couple of blogs back.)

The M’hamad oasis was bone dry scorched by the sun even as it set.

With Adventurers setting out into the desert in search of their dream in this nomadic life.

Riding the ships of the desert in the biggest sand sea in Morocco – Erg Chegaga

M’hamid el Ghizlane is at the end of the road the leads into the dessert.

It’s a strange way to start a story about going to Morocco at the end of the road into the desert at a town only 40km from the closed Algerian border.

But this is discontinuous narrative and at some stage I will get back to the start of the journey.

But getting to the desert and it’s nomadic herders was a dream for me.

At M’hamid the mighty breva was garaged while the crew at https://www.desertbivouac.com/ took control.

The Erg Chegaga is the biggest sand sea in Morocco and a perfect place get the feel of the desert.

At the one of the small oasis, or…

Or riding a ship of the desert in a sand sea.

Riding the waves of sand up to 300m high.

Waves that change colour with the setting sun.

To time this adventure with a desert full moon was extra special.

And to sit on a Berber carpet in the desert listening to the sounds of Bedouin singing and drumming beside the camp fire under its silver light

This has to be one of my most amazing travel experiences. So thanks to Desert Bivouac

It was time to cross the continent again!

It was was a short few hundred kilometres ride north from Esperence to Norseman.

Norseman is the Western Australian town at the start of the 1400 km stretch of road across the arid south of Australia commonly called the Nullabor crossing.

Basically between Norseman and Ceduna in South Australia there is little more than conveniently spaced road houses.

There was a storm brewing across the wheat fields so I stopped a couple of nights at the Norseman Pub for the weather to clear.

The pub is welcoming and the town though small has some examples. My room opened up onto the balcony where I could brew my morning coffee.

The road in places runs close to the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. The cliffs are certainly a feature of the crossing.

In the Australian winter months the Bight is a breading ground for Southern Right Whales. Unfortunately by the time I got here they were on their massive migration b ack to Antarctica for summer.

There were a was a stop at a roadhouse and at the little village of Penong on the crossing

Penong has an amazing windmill collection including the biggest in the country. These were used mainly for pumping water out of bores in this big dry land.

And now I’ve stopped in the lovely coastal village of Streaky Bay. I’m having a beer with a view.

And have a beautiful camping site on the beach under the shade of a big old Silky Oak tree.

I’m on the last bit back to Melbourne and on my next leg I will cross the route I took heading north into the Flinders Ranges back in March. Nearly 8 months ago having covered 26,000km.

There is still 1500 km to go so I hope I’m not too early in paying a little tribute to the Stienbock the BMW adventure bike that has gobbled up the miles and the challenges over these many months.

But the Streaky Bay jetty was a perfect spot to pose infringement of the sunset and under the stars.

Burke and Wills, Burketown and Gregory Downs. It’s remote out there.

Sitting comfortably in Fannie Bay, Darwin, its time to recap on the wild ride across the remote country just south of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Not far along the road from Normanton to Burketown is the Burke and Wills Monument.

The trees at the camp were scarred as proof of the camp.

The last camp of explorers who perished in an attempt to explore this harsh land.

There were in the exploration party. Only one survived because he was found and saved by local aborigines.

The monument to this day is a warning to respect this land.

Travelling west along this section of the Savannah Way land is dry and dusty and the rivers, torrents in the wet season are just strings of waterholes that as summer progresses will disappear.

This can be seen clearly at Leichhardt Falls.

Where I stood on the dry rocks over which only a few month ago water roared and photographed the waterhole no longer flowing and turning green as it stagnates.

Arriving Burketown I’m again reminded that water in the desert comes from the ground as well as the sky.

Water has been bubbling out of the mound spring in Burketown at a temperature of 68c since before history.

The hot water and the minerals it carries from deep in the earth painting the mound and surrounding landscape.

The old post office is now the tourist office. Unfortunately, there were no places left to do the balloon ride over the desert so I had to settle for the sunset river cruise.

Gregory Downs is little more that a hotel

And a small shack that sells dry good, some locally grown vegetables and …

Espresso coffee and home made apple and cinnamon muffins!!!

What an oasis!

As was finding the Gregory River. A spring fed watercourse in the desert and my first introduction to the spring fed rivers of North West Queensland.

More about those next blogs.