2014 Black Dog Ride around Australia

Ride Wrap Up

The 2014 Black Dog Ride around Australia has come and gone, unprecedented in size and scale, it has left it's footprint...or should we say pawprint...across the hearts of thousands of Australians touched by Black Dog Rider's inspiring efforts to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention across the nation.

This Black Dog Ride was a very special ride, a unique commemorative project. It was 5 years since Steve Andrews rode off on his odyssey around Australia to raise awareness of depression with little idea of how his passion and dedication would inspire a nation of motorcycle riders to come together, their collective voices amplified across the nation with one mission: to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention.

Black Dog Ride Departing Bateau Bay for around Australia

65 Black Dog Riders and Crew embarked upon a 14,500km awareness raising adventure: entirely self funded, these heroes with hearts took valuable leave from work, spent time away from loved ones and support networks, braved torrential rain, dizzying humidity and heat, freezing cold early mornings and icy roads, and long, tiring days, for over a month, to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention.

Joined by 450 State Riders at intersecting intervals, Black Dog Ride was welcomed by towns, even states and schools! With support from ambos, police and firies, even the SES, Black Dog Ride's message of depression and suicide prevention awareness was reaching communities hard hid by suicide. Black Dog Riders talked with Federal MPs, State MPs, community members, regional medical services, remote communities, even roadworkers about suicide prevention.

Black Dog Ride around Australia at the Jabiru Community Breakfast

The pace was tough, and Black Dog Riders took time out to relax, enjoy a cuppa, be a little bit playful, and celebrate milestones. Cheered by moral support from mining companies and local riders alike, Black Dog Riders met with local school children, both primary and secondary, and also with regional Ag students, always imparting a message of hope to our future generations. The bikes were always a big hit with youth!

Along the way, tragedy struck, and we mourned the loss of our friend and Black Dog Ride Coordinator Les James. Led by our own "Padre", Black Dog Ride conducted a solemn service of thanksgiving in New Norcia, and Les James' sons led Black Dog Ride on a poignant procession into Les' hometown of Busselton. Black Dog Ride around Australia later conducted a memorial service in Burra to honour the memory of our mate Les.

Black Dog Ride around Australia Les James' sons and Steve Andrews ride into Busselton

Forging ahead to continue our mission of raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention, our awesome Holden Colorados were busy with towing as well as supporting riders, our Support Crews working non stop with 27 tows plus general support and first aid. There was plenty of roadside fun and games however, plus our MotoKafe kept us gloriously caffeinated at all times!

Motivated by the incredible stunt riding of our awesome Ambassador Dave McKenna who lost his own Dad to suicide, Black Dog Riders cheerfully overlooked the rain and enjoyed the privilege of a 40km police convoy to Bondi. Black Dog Ride had made it!

After champagne at the Bondi Surf Club to celebrate our success, a finale followed at the Bondi Hotel with special guests Jane Hayden (Lifeline CEO), Alexandra Badham (Lifeline Community Fundraising Coordinator), Tony Jorm (MHFA), and Betty Kitchener (MHFA CEO), who presented our intrepid adventurers for awareness with treasured certificates of completion. Phil Jamieson, himself a Black Dog Rider, rocked an acoustic set by the fireplace while our Black Dog Riders spent the evening enjoying their newfound friendships, forged over 32 days on the road, knowing they've had the best time of their lives while making a life saving contribution to communities across the nation. Cheers to Black Dog Riders!

Black Dog Ride around Australia at the Bondi Surf Club finish line. Image by Roger Clark, ENVY Photography

Planning - The Road Ahead

With no government funding and no staff, a core team of dedicated volunteers came together a year in advance to get this ride around Australia on the road. It was a labour of love requiring hardworking volunteers who understood the logistics of travelling, feeding, fueling and housing 60 -150 riders in remote locations every single day for 32 days, and who would often need to work through the night, night after night, to get the job done. The "Team" as they came to be called are:

Ride Coordinator: Steve Andrews
Rider Liaison: Michael Young
Administration: Fiona Duffield
Merchandise: Penny Lind
Mental Health Liaison: Graeme Raine
Lions Liaison: Gavin Miles & Chrissy Prescott
Support Crew 1: Ross Scott, Jock Ford
Support Crew 2: Chrissy Prescott, Julie Storton
Media Vehicle Driver: Mark Carson

Their job titles don't do justice to the work they willingly took on and devoted countless hours and many sleepless nights to achieve. We are immensely grateful for their untiring dedication to getting the Ride on the road.

Black Dog Ride had to limit the number of riders who rode in the full lap around Australia due to logistics, however this was overcome by developing State Rides. These 7 day State Rides intersected with the Black Dog Ride around Australia and ensured more Black Dog Riders could reach regional communities with our message of hope and awareness. The State Rides were developed with collaborative assistance from Wayne Amor and Steve Gower (NSW); Don Hewett (Sth QLD); Ben Price (Nth QLD); Emily Holyoake (NT); Les James & Sam Prince (WA); Ric Raftis (VIC). With their invaluable contribution, Black Dog Ride was able to traverse over 19,125kms with more than 450 Black Dog Riders raising conversations of depression and suicide prevention in hundreds of communities within each state. Our gratitude goes out to every one of these wonderful volunteers. You can view the entire list of ride volunteers here.

Sponsors - They Make The Wheels Turn!

Sponsors who felt an affinity with the Black Dog Ride mission - to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention - helped keep the wheels turning on this awesome Aussie adventure.

Black Dog Ride around Australia Sponsors

Holden supplied Black Dog Ride with 2 Holden Colorados, $5000 for fuel, PLUS a Captiva when our Media Vehicle went down. Yahava Koffeeworks made the greatest creation ever - the MotoKafe - which kept us filled with divine delicious Koffee all the way around Australia, plus Yahava donated $1 from every cup sold to the cause! Channel 9 provided a voice to the Australian community via Black Dog Rider and Senior CH9 Journalist Simon Bouda. Lions Clubs of Australia organised over 90 community meals for between 50 -150 riders in less than an hour for 32 days, plus individual Lions Clubs donated nearly $50,000 to the cause! Bikes Only gave discounted rates to Black Dog Riders to get our rider's bikes where they needed to be. Telstra Countrywide ensured we were always connected by providing our Support Crew with Satellite Phones and 3G Phones. West TV provided cameraman Steve Fitzgibbon who joined us on the road to record our incredible journey. Stolen Quotes provided invaluable PR support in addition to supporting the Team behind the scenes with timely professional advice.

Thank you to all who sponsored or supported the Ride. View the full list of all the wonderful corporate, local and community sponsors of the Black Dog Ride around Australia here.

Auction and Raffle - Putting the FUN back in Fundraising

The traditional end of ride auction went online this year, with fantastic donors who helped us raise an impressive $7,500 for Lifeline and MHFA! Our thanks go to Clayton Gordon, BMW Motorrad, WearForce Systems, Victory Motorcycles, Stay Upright Rider Training, West Cape Howe Wines; The Wine and Truffle Company; Lifestyle Physio; Malcolm Bullock, The Stortons, Astrid Hocking, and Papa Trev and Nana Sue. Thank you so much for helping us to help others!

The annual ride raffle was held on the final evening of the Black Dog Ride around Australia. This raffle was a small way to give back to the riders who have given so much of themselves for the ride. 3 Around Australia Riders and 7 State Riders were raffle winners and have been contacted. Our thanks go to Clayton Gordon, RYDA.com, Camdon's Broome Pearls and Fine Jewellery, The Good Wool Store, The Airhawk Guy, East Riverside Holiday Park whose donations helped us give a special surprise to our Black Dog Riders.

Black Dog Ride Tommy Crow and Roger Clark Art Auction in Busselton, modeled by Koro and Spuddy

Finally, our friend and acclaimed Indigenous Artist Tommy Crow donated one of his artworks to be auctioned. This $1800 unique landscape was auctioned amongst local community and riders in Busselton, along with a print of a breathtaking sunset over the Busselton Jetty by award winning photographer and Black Dog Rider Roger Clark. Thank you guys, beautiful donations!

Special Mentions - The gems who put the sparkle in the Ride

Andrew and Chrissy Prescott deserve a special mention for letting Black Dog Ride to use their brand new Holden Colorado and bike trailer as Support Vehicle 2 on our 14,500km ride, ensuring we always had room to support our riders. Photographer and Black Dog Rider Roger Clark took portraits of Black Dog Riders and he'll be putting them in a memorable book for Around Australia Riders which will be treasured. Graeme "Toad" Noad supplied us with a tracker so that you always knew where we were, many thanks Toad! Rod from the Bondi Surf Life Saving Club was truly a life saver with his champagne chauffering! Mick's Bike and Car Tyres Dyno Centre and Sharks Leathers gave immense support by funding a bike trailer for the Ride.

It's A Wrap!

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all sponsors, supporters, donors, community members and groups, our volunteers and especially Black Dog Riders for making the 2014 Black Dog Ride around Australia the most successful and memorable yet.

Black Dog Riders set out to start a national conversation about depression and suicide prevention and raise vital funds for mental health services. We've succeeded in solidifying our strong national network of mental health advocates and boosting the profile of mental health in countless communities across the continent. An incredible $405,000 was raised for Lifeline and MHFA which will be used to fund Lifeline's Online Crisis Support chat service and rolling out the teen MHFA program to Australian highschools.

Together, we're making an ongoing positive impact across Australian society, preventing suicide and giving hope to thousands.

We're looking forward to the next ride with you all, check them out here. See you then!