The Black Dog Ride, Dubbo to Darwin 2018 starts conversations

The sight of 100 motorcyclists riding through a small country town will surely start a conversation no matter what.

But the aim of the Black Dog Riders is to start a conversation about mental health.

Last Friday, the riders departed Dubbo for a 4000 kilometre journey to Darwin as part of the Black Dog Ride Top End 2018 trip.

The riders will travel for a total of eight days stopping in towns including Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Roma, Emerald, and Camooweal.

They will then head to Katherine to meet up with more than 200 other Black Dog Riders from across the country for the final leg to Darwin.

When Fairfax Media contacted Dubbo/NSW Black Dog Ride coordinator Wayne Amor he said they were on day five of the journey and had stopped at Camooweal.

“The trip is going well with the riders talking to and handing out information cards to locals and grey nomads along the way,” he said.

The stop at Coonamble gave the riders a chance to speak with staff and students at the local high school to give them advice on how start a conversation on how someone is going.

Mr Amor said everyone is saying how well the launch went, especially the talk from Troy Grant who shared his mental health issues, which was “totally unexpected”.

“And of course the generous donation from the South Dubbo Rotary and Destination Outback of $12000,” Mr Amor said.

“Wow! Of course the Police escort was pretty cool too, letting other road users know something special is underway.”

Wagga Wagga’s Ross Tinkler is currently on the Dubbo to Darwin trip.

Ahead of departing on Friday he spoke to Fairfax Media.

Mr Tinkler has been taking part in the rides since 2012, and remarked at the ease with which he could spark up a conversation about suicide over a petrol bowser or truck stop meal.

“It’s really interesting that people that won’t talk to their family or doctor about something but they’ll talk to a complete stranger, because they can then walk away,” he said.

“But if we can get people thinking, and talking, that’s great.”

He hoped the ride could prompt some struggling with the drought to seek help.

“We’ve got people struggling with the long stretch of drought and with growing debt. Getting people talking is a major thing we can do,” Mr Tinkler said.

“In these situations we’ve got to realise there’s a lot of women who are carrying the can for a lot of families.”

The event was a form of therapy for communities and riders alike, he added.

“There’s a lot of people riding because they have lost someone to suicide … it’s a bit of a moving therapy.”