The Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre took place again this August with Club members; Chris Sainty, Dan Webb and Cesco Zovi taking part in the Adventure Ride and Jim Sharpe, Keith Graham 2 or 3 others participating in the State Ride. These rides are organised to increase awareness of depression and raise funds for Mental Health First Aid and Lifeline, a 24 hour crisis support phone line with the aim of suicide prevention. To date, BDR has raised in excess of two million dollars and increased community awareness of mental health issues across Australia. There was also a Black Dog Ride Across America for the first time during September 2015.
The 2015 BDR ride saw the inauguration of the WA Adventure
Ride, from southern WA to Uluru. Here are the stats:
* Eleven riders
* Two girls, nine guys
* Eleven bikes
* 2 x BMW 650 Sertao
* 1 x BMW 800GS
* 1 x BMW G650GS
* 1 x Kawasaki 650
* 2 x Suzuki DR 650
* 1 x Triumph Tiger 800
* 3 x Yamaha Tenere 660
* Two support vehicles with a trailer each
* Four support crew
* Two chefs, two mechanics
* 6,900km travelled with southern return (Chris, Cesco)
* 5,400km travelled with Great Central return (Dan)
* 7 days official riding plus return journey.
* Eight punctures
The official ride took us from Denmark to Karlgarin overnight.
It was a great treat to be able to meet the crew heading to
Kulin Pub for the overnight ride in Gnowangerup. Then, from
Karlgarin we rode to Kalgoorlie via the Hyden-Norseman Road and
Victoria Rock Road.
In Kalgoorlie we shared an evening with the State
and National riders, including Jim Sharpe and Keith Graham
before heading back into the dirt to Laverton and the Great
Central Road. This took us along some mine access roads that
became tracks through station country before going past the
Sunrise mine outside Laverton. From there we took the White
Cliffs road out to Yamarna Station, now an exploration site for
Gold Road Resources, who were kind enough to let us camp the
night and use their facilities. After this we joined the great
The route evolved as we got further north and we made decisions based on the road conditions and where the support vehicles could get through in the time available efficiently. We passed through Tjukaylirla, Warburton and Warakurna (Giles) Roadhouses on our way to the Northern Territory boarder. We rode on through the border where the road condition changed markedly to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and on to Curtin Springs overnight.
Having to carry no luggage, getting cold beer on arrival, and bush camps by the fire with a handpicked selection of red wines and beautiful meals prepared for us meant we were living the adventure rider’s version of 5 Star. Yep, still dusty and sleeping on a mat but enjoying more than five stars in the sky each night.
As we were ahead of schedule when we reach Kings Creek Station, Cesco and I took the time to explore the Mereenie Loop Road and The West MacDonnell Ranges. The scenery was stunning and the riding fantastic. Although we did find the deep sand and rock ledges limiting as we rode into Palm Valley. I’m sure there’s a photo not too far away of my bike ‘bogged’.
While we were ‘doing the loop’ the group stayed an extra night
at Kings Creek Station before heading headed back to Yulara for
the rendezvous with the other 385 Black dog riders from around
the country, this was at a layby 24km from the Uluru. From here
they were given a police-escorted lap of the rock and into the
accommodation area at Yulara, the formal end of the Black Dog
Ride. A Sundowner at Yulara “Sails in the Desert” on the Friday
evening and a private dining experience at “Sounds of Silence”
on the Saturday, meant that there was some serious scrubbing up
to be done after a week in the dirt. The BDR officially ended
after breakfast at the Mutityulu Community just off the Uluru
loop road. We were privileged to be invited to Mutityulu
Community. The last visitor they had was the Dalai Lama!
The dirt roads on the WA side of the boarder were well
maintained, which made taking in the scenery a pleasure. But to
be honest, the sand/bulldust we encountered after the border
meant that I’ve a panicked recollection of anything other than
the track in front of me. I’d found my limit in the long
stretches of sand around Kaltukatyara (Docker River). After
‘getting away with’ two intensely challenging sand crossings,
there was no question, I was going home another way.
So it was that the support vehicles and the majority of the
riders left before the breakfast Sunday morning arriving in
Busselton Tuesday night, a little too quick for some of us. Dan
Webb teamed up with a Black Dog Rider who had done the bitumen
on the way to Yulara and was happy to do the Great Central Road
Cesco and I went south with Jaye Edwards, the WA Adventure Ride Coordinator, exploring the Lake Gardiner National Park in South Australia before heading across the Nullabor.
While the others were happy to go back the long way I didn’t like the idea of all that bitumen while riding the DR, as I have it set-up for off-road and gravel tracks, so I was pleased when I heard Mark was looking for company to ride back along the Great Central Road. We headed off after the breakfast on Sunday morning about five hours behind the support vehicles and other riders.
After a look around the Olgas we got to the end of the bitumen and let our tyres down and started off. I was leading at a steady 80/85 km/hr and pulled over after about an hour. Mark said it was a good job I hadn’t stopped in the first 20km’s as he would have been tempted to turn back, but had now settled in to the conditions and was looking forward to the rest of the trip.
We stopped to sightsee along the way and got to Giles late in
the afternoon after the fuel pumps had closed so we camped there
the night. We fuelled-up in the morning then went up to the
weather station to watch the balloon launch before heading off.
Lunch had us at Desert Surf Central, an interesting cliff break
with several small caves. If it had been a bit later in the day
we would have spent the night there.
After a bush camp west of Tjukaylirla we arrived in Laverton mid-morning on the Tuesday and Mark headed for Perth on the bitumen. I headed for Denmark keeping to the gravel via Kookynie, Ora Banda and Coolgardie.
It was a cold night in the tent at Victoria Rock, but worth it
for the great sunrise, before more gravel through Hyden and
Nyabing brought me home. Another great adventure had.
Black Dog Ride plans for 2016 are a One-Day ride, a State Ride and Black Dog Ride New Zealand.