Two black dogs were the stars of the annual Black Dog Ride that left from Brisbane this morning.
Mandy and Scrambles are live mascots for the more than 80 riders who left from Rocker Classic Motorcycles at Nundah, heading for Bundaberg and eventually Alice Springs to raise awareness for mental health issues.
Mandy is Anny Seaton’s companion on her 1986 Z1300 outfit, sitting alongside her in the sidecar.
“I rode up from Sydney; the climate attracted me,” says Anny who also did the ride last year.
“I suffer from depression which I’ve been fighting for about 10 years.
“I’ve been riding all my life but only had a road licence since 2006. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have my bike. It’s my lifeline.”
Scrambles and a black Triumph Scrambler are John Skinner’s lifeline. Together they hold the honour of being the first man and dog to ride unassisted right across Australia.
This time they’re riding back through the Simpson Desert. “I like to talk to as many people as I can on the ride about mental illness. Talking about it can make it easier for other people to talk about it,” he says.
The annual Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre left from all states and territories yesterday (August 17), arriving in Alice Springs on Thursday August 22.
It began four years ago as a solo motorbike ride around Australia by Steve Andrews and has now raised more than $1 million for mental health support services such as the Suicide Call Back Service (Crisis Support Services), Lamp Inc, The Black Dog Institute, Lifeline, and Mental Health First Aid.
This year, funds raised by the riders go directly to Lifeline Australia and Mental Health First Aid.
Brisbane ride co-ordinator Michael Young says 80 registered riders left Rockers heading for Bundaberg and 42 will continue on to Alice Springs. He says the “night riders” who only do the first leg pay $60 and the others pay $110 for the full ride with all money going to the cause.
Steve and Gayleen Lindsay are riding the BMW R 1200 RT all the way in honour of two work mates “lost” through depression.
Mates from Caboolture, Lucky Mick, Moondog, Jacko and Gator also have a riding mate suffering from depression.
“He couldn’t come because he’s depressed at the moment … he’s more depressed now that he can’t come with us,” says Moondog.
Oldest rider in the Black Dog Ride is Paula Burns, 78, who is riding pillion with her son, Trevor.
Paula says she had depression many years ago but now has it beaten.
“I’m still here because when she’d had enough she still had the good sense to hand me across the fence to neighbours,” says Trevor who won a Star of Courage award for rescuing a woman form a shark.
They had hoped to go all the way, but the Black Dog Ride was full, so they are turning around at Mackay and heading home.
“Maybe next year,” says Paula.
Gerry Chee is one of the “night riders’’ going to Bundy on his XR 1200 Harley.
”It’s a perfect way for people who love riding to incorporate something worthwhile,” he says.
Stephen and Sue Murphy are also going as far as Bundy on their Tiger 800.
“I don‘t get on the bike often,” says Sue, “but it’s a good cause and it’s a great adventure.”
We wish all Black Dog Ride participants a safe trip.
If you need urgent help or support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.