I have been so fortunate to be able to complete the Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre this year. Fortunate, not only in that the crew at home were happy to do without me for a few weeks but that they were massively encouraging and that I had my fair share of support, advice and genuine ‘help’ from a number of friends and club members.
you will know about The Black Dog Ride, the brainchild of Steve
Andrews, which aims to raise awareness of depression and suicide
prevention. I first heard about it from a girlfriend who had
just completed the ride in 2012. Her recollection of the ride
inspired me to have a go myself and so this year I teamed up
with four others from Denmark to form the Denmark Bushies; Roger
Seeney, Lez Baines, Nic Weissenfels, Rob Woods and myself. The
Bushies’ name comes from the others membership of the volunteer
fire fighters brigade. My lack of bush fire fighting was
overlooked out of kindness and a lack of another suitable name
for our motley crew.
Roger, Lez and I left Denmark for the start of the ride in
Busselton on Friday 16 August in bitter wind. It was cold, let
there be no doubt, but I was so rugged up that even the
southerly had no chance. Nic left with a great crew of support
from Albany on the Saturday morning and to be true I’m really
not sure where Rob left from but he was definitely with us in
Esperance on the first night.
Roger and I had a more than interesting interaction with a
backpackers van just outside of Walpole that got the adrenaline
pumping. The three of us were riding at about 100m spacing, all
very pleasant when we came up on the van. Lez was able to get
past on one of the few safe overtaking spots, while I waited for
my opportunity. The driver of the van, in a moment of
consideration for the lack of safe overtaking, pulled off the
road onto the gravel shoulder. Unfortunately, not reducing speed
and careering out of control to come back on to the road on two
wheels directly behind me (both my rear vision mirrors went
white!) and in front of Roger. Roger was on the brakes with the
ABS doing its thing. At the very last second, the van slid just
far enough out of the way for Roger to get past without hitting
it. These frantic seconds saw the van end up on the other side
of the road facing the opposite direction. My heart was thumping
so fast, it was such a close call so early in our trip. Needless
to say we all rushed off to buy lotto tickets that afternoon – I
still have them in my jacket, maybe I should check if we won.
So in Busselton bright and early Saturday morning we were
enjoying the first of a number of delicious bacon and egg
breakfasts supplied by the Lions Club while we registered. I was
a little apprehensive with the sheer number of bikes and the
cold wet conditions; I wondered what I’d got myself in for. But
heading out that morning with the sun warming through my layers,
hundreds of bikes behind me (I was in the first six bikes to
leave the car park!) and the privilege of being part of such a
great event was an awesome feeling.
We enjoyed mostly dry if not cold conditions for the next few
days through Esperance, where we met up with the other Denmark
Bushies members Rob and Nic, onto Madura Pass, Ceduna and Port
Augusta. Each day we travelled around 700kms. I love
wedge-tailed eagles and was rapt to see so many so close up as
we travelled east. All the way there riders joined us while
others left after a day’s ride or two. Many of us carried
‘Winston’ the Black Dog mascot on our bikes and it was often
Winston that got the conversations about depression going at the
I truly enjoyed my time across the Nullarbor; the sense of
space was fantastic. I realised I’m used to seeing the horizon
over water or through trees. We met some wonderful people and
heard story after story; some incredibly sad and others very
I had a few moments of embarrassment in Ceduna. The command
vehicle driver Morgan also happened to be a masseuse who was
offering 10 minute neck and shoulder massages for a $10 donation
to the ride. I watched as Morgan expertly put riders out of
their neck and shoulder pain, thinking to myself ‘what I could
really do with is a lower back/bum massage’. Sadly this thought
was spoken out loud to the wrong person and I received an
intensive ‘bum’ massage thanks to Morgan’s elbow in front of the
group as a finale. Morgan is to be thanked, as from that point
on I had no more sore back or bum and the crew did not suffer
from the laughter provided.
Riders from all states except Qld and N.T. met in Port Augusta.
A massive get-together and another wonderful meal was had. A lot
of eating and drinking goes into a great bike trip. Lions Clubs
along the way provided us with many memorable meals and were
generous in welcoming us all into their communities. Many thanks
to a fantastic group.
Port Augusta we travelled north to spend the night underground
at Coober Pedy. Another first for me, I was fascinated but
convinced I would not like to live underground. Though I’m told
if I were there in the summer, I’d quickly change my mind.
The ride culminated in Alice Springs
with the Qld and N.T riders joining us on the Thursday night for
dinner. Again, many great people and many laughs. The following
morning we rode as a group of 300 through the Todd Mall which
normally is a pedestrian area in the centre of Alice Springs.
also lucky enough to have a stunt bike demonstration put on for
us by Dave Mckenna - Street Bike Freestyle Rider who had delayed
his departure from Alice to coincide with the ride. He was
incredibly talented, earning more than a few ooooo’s and
arhhhhhhhhh’s from the crowd.
The final dinner of the ride included an auction of generously
donated gifts, live music and yep, you guessed it, dancing. A
grand night held at the Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge against a
Leaving to come home we all
dispersed, each state’s riders going their own way. Our group
split between visiting Uluru and Darwin on the way home, all
having our own adventures in different directions. My interest
in motorcycle travel has well and truly been ignited and I’m
putting a ‘wish list’ of places to visit together.
I loved riding my G650 X Country but confess to riding a F650GS
while away and enjoying it just a little too much. My current
limited fuel capacity meant that when all loaded up and with
headwinds at times I was only getting 130km to a tank and relied
on the 7L fuel bladder I carried. The fuel bladder is now
affectionately named Connie, short for incontinence as she had a
tendency to spontaneously ‘leak’. To be fair, Connie enjoyed the
hospitality of Lez and his hotel on wheels (Gold Wing) and sat
upright for part
of the trip. She was however put securely back on the G650 for a few days when Lez offered his pillion seat to Bronwyn after her bike’s radiator failed.
We are all home now, having helped raise awareness of
depression and all the better for the experience. The Black Dog
Ride to the Red Centre not only raised awareness but also in
excess of $350,000 for Lifeline and Mental Health First Aid.
Denmark Bushies as a team have raised $7,300 to date, making us
the seventh highest fundraising team in Australia. Thank you to
all of you that donated to the ride. These much appreciated
funds help support Lifeline’s on-line and telephone crisis
support services and Mental Health First Aid’s training to
ensure members of the public are able to provide help before and
during a crisis situation.
Thanks to those that I rode the 8,763km with, came with me in
my helmet or have been there to help me on this great adventure.