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.

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.

Normanton and Karumba, where the desert meets the sea

The Norman River flows through the trading town of Normanton before emptying into the Gulf of Carpentaria at Karumba.

Karumba Point provides a popular place to view the sunset across the Norman River estuary.

Normanton was original port town

The home of the Gulflander, the vintage train the runs the old line to the once gold town of Croydon.

The route passes little siding in the sparse outback.

Normanton as the old port town has a collection of historic buildings.

These days Karumba is the main port

And home to large prawn and barramundi fishing industry.

While the model of a replica of a huge crocodile caught in the Norman River announces that this is Croc Country.

It is the waterbirds that fascinated me.

At Mutton Hole Wetlands.

And in the mangroves flanking the river at Karumba.

The powerful raptors

Sea Eagle
Osprey and Kite

And the little mangrove birds

Red helmeted honey eater

Darting around the mangrove

And down around the waterline

The campground at Normanton offered the luxury of a pool and spa

And at Karumba the campers included a group of classic cars from the 1920s that had driven all the way from Melbourne

And a nightly concert of harp and guitar from my neighbouring campers.

Tomorrow I head deeper into the Gulf Country along a dirt road to the remote town of Burketown.

Goldfield towns of the Savannah Way

I’m staying at the Club Hotel in Croyden as I write

Indulging in a cold beer in the lush green beer garden.

But I’ve jumped too far ahead.

The discovery of gold was important in bringing colonial development to this remote part of Australia.

After leaving Einasleigh my next stop was Forsayth.

Built as a mining town its now a tourist destination with the Savannahlander train running to Forsayth from Cairns.

I could even find an espresso and hummingbird cake. Rare in the outback and a treat for a city boy piecemeal adventurer.

Georgetown is home to Ted Elliot Mineral Collection.

An amazing collection of fossils, gemstones, petrified and fossilised wood and minerals of all types.

Georgetown also has samples the distinctive Queensland outback buildings.

Croydon was very successful gold mining centre so successful special train line built from the port town of Normanton. Now jokingly called the train from nowhere to nowhere the Gulflander is a tourist ride.

Croydon’s Historic Precinct contains a number of official building from the height of the 1870s gold rush.

The road to Einasleigh and Forsayth are off the main Savannah Way so include some unsealed roads till Georgetown.

The travelling is beautiful

Through savannah woodlands,

Across river causeways, where the rivers roaring floods in the tropical wet season is reduced to a feeble flow.

But still hold water in lagoons full of water lillies and birds.

And one can see a magpie goose on the wing

On the way to Croydon the Steinbock clocked over 22,000km since I purchased it in January this year. It’s been a crazy 6 months of travel.

The poster girl

Next the landscape changes again. The Gulf Country – the Gulf of Carpentaria. The rivers are big estuaries full of big salt water crocodiles. Normanton, on the croc infested Norman River is my next stop.

Travelling in the time of Coronavirus-the last ferry from Santander

It was the last passenger ferry from Spain to the UK steaming into Santander

A small group of motorbikes

And lines of cars and campervans waiting for the exodus.

Like a mini Dunkirk escaping an invisable enemy

It was a different crossing to the previous I have had

No promenading the decks as all passengers were confined to their cabins

Running on the spot to exercise on the 24 hour crossing

Back in England

A walk along the beach in Rye Harbour

Through the marsh to gather my thoughts.

Tonight the UK has gone into lockdown.

Things change quickly in a pandemic.