AS motorcyclists continue to ride to the centre of the country as a part of the ‘Black Dog Ride: Ride to the Red Centre’, the Western Australian group passed through the West Coast on Monday and Tuesday, stopping in Ceduna and Wudinna.
The group left Busselton in WA on Saturday morning and passed through the Nullarbor and West Coast on their way to Port Augusta on Tuesday, where they met up with riders from the southern states.
The combined total of around 250 riders then rode on to Alice Springs where they will spend two days, meeting with other riders from the Northern Territory and Queensland.
The ride picked up several West Coast riders for the ride to Alice Springs as well, which includes riders from Ceduna, Smoky Bay and Wudinna.
Local rider Troy Herrmann said they all thought it was something worth getting involved in.
“We saw it as a good cause and we enjoy riding, so why wouldn’t we do something like this,” he said.
The ride is to raise awareness for depression and suicide prevention, as well as getting people to begin talking about how they feel.
Despite some wind and rain on the first two days of their ride, the Black Dog riders experienced good conditions as they rode around 660 kilometres from Madura Pass to Ceduna, arriving in the evening for tea at Ceduna Foreshore Hotel Motel.
Black Dog founder Steve Andrews said the ride began in 2009 when he rode solo around Australia in 26 days, which also involved a brief stop over in Ceduna.
“When I did the first ride I felt I had raised awareness, but there was a groundswell of other riders who were interested in what I was doing, which led to creating the Ride to the Red Centre,” he said.
“There were around 90 people on the first Ride to the Red Centre in 2010, this year there are nearly 300 from all around Australia.”
The ride has raised around $300,000 so far, which has helped reach the milestone of $1 million raised since the first ride in 2010.
This year funds are being raised for Lifeline Mental Health First Aid.
Mr Andrews said it could be difficult for people in the country to deal with depression, as it can be seen as a weakness.
“Half the riders here have had experiences with depression, it’s everywhere so it’s important to get the message out there,” he said.
“In the country it can be really tough, as there’s limited resources and people think it can be seen as a weakness.”
It’s true many of the riders had their own stories to tell about their experiences with depression, however support driver Ross Scott, from Busselton, has taken away from his experiences and hopes to make a difference.
Mr Scott first suffered from depression in 2008 during the Global Financial Crisis, as he perceived he would lose his superfund and house.
He said it all started with stress, anxiety and then depression, all within a four month period.
“I was in this situation right up until early to mid last year, it got to the point of coming very close to taking my own life,” he said.
“Like most blokes I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it, not even my wife.”
Soon friends encouraged Mr Scott to get help, and he would soon be on the mend thanks to medical assistance, medication and help from his friends.
He said he became involved in the Black Dog Ride when he was introduced to Mr Andrews through a mutual friend.
“I gave him a brief description of what happened, and the story remained up on the Black Dog Ride website for a long time,” he said.
“The more people who understand depression, the better I will be, my goal now is if I can save one life, then I would be a happy man.”
Mr Scott said on this ride even though he has passed through much of this country before, he has never remembered it looking this good.
He has been asked to be involved with a ride around Australia next year, which will start and finish in Sydney.
For more information, or to make a donation, go online at www.blackdogride.com.au.
Coverage of the Black Dog Ride visit to Wudinna to follow.