A group of 115 motorcyclists on the 2015 Black Dog Ride stopped overnight in Cobar on Sunday on their way to the Red Centre in the Northern Territory.
The Black Dog Ride began in 2009 as one man’s ride to raise awareness of depression and has since become a national suicide prevention initiative.
The now annual event involves thousands of Australian motorcycle riders who’ve raised over $2million for mental health services and have helped to foster mental health awareness around the country.
NSW chapter coordinator Wayne Amor from Dubbo said riders from all walks of life and from all over NSW had joined the group this year.
“They’ve come from the north coast, Shoalhaven, from Sydney, Condobolin and Cobar. We’ve even got one guy from Perth who’s come over and joined us,” Mr Amor said on Monday morning.
“They work in the health sector, some of them are IT workers, truck drivers, there’s a builder, a mechanic and a few are self funded retirees.
“We’re weekend bike riders, not professionals,” he joked.
Many have Winston, the group’s mascot, a toy black dog strapped onto their bikes while one rider has also brought along Kanya, a real life black Staffordshire bull terrier, who’s taking the trip in a sidecar.
The NSW group of riders set out from Bathurst on Saturday with Dubbo their first stop before they made their way to Cobar on Sunday. They met up at the Empire Hotel on Sunday night where they heard from local guest speakers from the Mental Health Network about local issues and the work that’s being done in the community.
After a breakfast at the Cobar Memorial Services Club and a quick photo shoot at the ‘Cobar’ sign on Monday morning, the group headed off to Emmdale for lunch and then to Broken Hill where they were to spend their third night.
The NSW group of riders will travel between 250km and 600km per day and will meet up with the rest of the other riders from around Australia on Friday afternoon at Uluru.
Mr Amor said he initially became involved with the Black Dog movement back in 2013 when he attended a one day ride event.
“At the company where I work, across the state we had three guys taken their own life and I personally knew two of those guys,” Mr Amor said.
“My brother had also been battling his own mental health demons from a young age.”
Mr Amor is keen to get the message out into the community to people who are struggling with depression that there is help available.
“There’s always someone at the end of the phone who will listen, “ he said.
“Hopefully with us calling through small and big communities, stopping for fuel or for a coffee, it will get the message out that there is help out there.”