2015 Red Centre Wrap Up
The 2015 Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre was an unforgettable week, unprecedented in size, awareness raised, media coverage, fundraising and the uplifting support throughout every community in which we traveled.
Black Dog Riders from all states and territories hit the highways of Australia en route to the Red Centre to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention. The journey has concluded, but the impact upon participants and communities will be enduring.
Purpose is the reason you journey.
Passion is the fire that lights your way.
Our purpose was to come together from all corners of Australia, traversing regional communities on motorbikes to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention, re-emerging as a united group in the red heart of Australia to let the nation know that mental health matters.
Our passion was our lived experience - all Black Dog Riders have been touched by the struggles of mental illness or the tragedy of suicide in some way - themselves, loved ones, friends, colleagues. Our passion to prevent suicide pushed us forward to provide a beacon of hope to all in our path.
The 2015 Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre was the fifth Red Centre Ride and so, encouraged by rider interest and the desire to make this anniversary something truly unique, this compelled the small but devoted Black Dog Ride Team to alter the usual destination from Alice Springs (which holds so many fond memories for Black Dog Riders) to the ancient and sacred Uluru.
Black Dog Ride believes fostering awareness of depression and suicide prevention in communities is the best catalyst for prevention, and aims to start community conversations which can help normalise mental illness and encourage help seeking behaviour. In addition to raising awareness via riding, no Black Dog Ride preparation would be complete without the sausage sizzles, awareness stalls at shopping centres, a BBQ at work, public speaking, activities which are designed to get the community talking about depression and suicide prevention.
This year, rider's families set up lemonade stands, awareness stalls at shops, country towns did wood raffles, our Top End riders cruised local watering holes seeking donations, and of course the popular sausage sizzles. The effort Black Dog Riders put into both raising awareness and raising funds was untiring and contributes to keeping conversations around suicide prevention going.
By August, the rider's engines were revving, the support crews were fitted out in their Holden Colorados and 550 Black Dog Riders finally departed for the Red Centre en masse. Riding from Bathurst with a lap of Mt Panorama; Melbourne - including a Team Tassie contingent; Brisbane - supported by a QAS Ambulance and Black Dog Rider Paramedic; Townsville, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin; and at Busselton where our Adventure Riders departed for their awesome off road journey through the western desert to Uluru.
With hundreds of awareness and fundraising activities in the lead up to the ride and dozens of media interviews completed, Australia was already talking!
On the first days of the Ride, a semi trailer emblazoned with the Black Dog Ride logo was unveiled to ecstatic NSW Black Dog Riders in Dubbo; country towns proudly welcomed Black Dog Riders; and Lions Clubs stepped up to support the cause. On 18th August, WA Red Centre Coordinator led a moving commemoration to honour Vietnam Veteran's Day. There were also the usual light hearted shenanigans which Black Dog Riders bring to each ride!
Whether visiting mental health services, or chatting to a local about Black Dog Ride's positive impact on their mental health, meeting school children to talk about mental wellbeing, a plate of shortbread bringing out the best in everyone, even inspiring toddlers in their two wheel dreams, by the time hundreds of Black Dog Riders rolled onto the Stuart Highway, spirits were sky high.
Converging en masse outside Yulara, 400 Black Dog Riders were escorted by the NT Police into Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park and around the ancient monolith of Uluru, an unforgettable moment and an absolute buzz for all.
Under a starlit sky in the red heart of the country, 400 Black Dog Riders finally climbed out of the saddle and soaked up the atmosphere, hearing (tall) tales from their Ride Coordinators and enjoying the cameraderie that Black Dog Ride is renowned for. It was a homecoming, a long, meaningful, unforgettable journey topped off by a great night meeting old friends and making new lifelong friends. It was also a poignant opportunity for some of the original Red Centre Riders from 2010 to meet up again.
Amongst the many moving moments that night was Jess, courageously telling 400 Black Dog Riders:
"Black Dog Ride has inspired me to keep fighting for my life."
It was then announced that Black Dog Ride would be funding a scholarship for a member of the Mutijulu community to train as an Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Miriam, who will be flown to Melbourne for the training to bring back life saving skills to her community, told Black Dog Riders:
"I thought no one cared about my community, until Black Dog Ride arrived."
The hearts of 400 Black Dog Riders were full to overflowing with humility, awe, pride, gratitude.
Saturday evening was spent enjoying the spectacular central Australian night sky and each other's company. Sunday morning dawned and Black Dog Ride was privileged to be invited by Mutijulu community to enjoy breakfast together. Another breathtaking ride around Uluru culminated with a welcome to country by Black Dog Rider Simon Thompson on the bagpipes and local Elders, followed by indulging kids on bikes and conversations with Anangu over delicious MotoKafe Koffee.
Finally, with many hugs, blackslaps, laughter, possibly a few tears, some reminiscing and promises to catch up, the 2015 Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre was over.
Although Black Dog Ride's mission is to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention, Black Dog Riders have proven to be amazing at fundraising, and all funds raised support mental health organisations. This year, Black Dog Ride's fundraising efforts tipped Black Dog Ride over another milestone, pushing total fundraising since 2009 over the $2,000,000 mark!
The 2015 Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre raised $358,201.03
Lifeline Australia and Mental Health First Aid Australia were chosen as the beneficiaries of the Red Centre fundraising. Net funds will be directed to Lifeline's Online Crisis Support chat service and funding the MHFA Youth Program across Australia.
In addition, Black Dog Ride will fund MHFA Training and suicide prevention programs for the Mutitjulu Community.
The road to the Red Centre is a long one. Black Dog Ride sends a deeply sincere thank you to all of our Sponsors and Supporters whose generosity helped make the Ride such a success.
A special thank you to GM Holden for providing seven support vehicles plus the funds to fuel them! The reassurance of recovery vehicles behind riders on a long distance ride cannot be overstated, and Black Dog Ride is immensely grateful to GM Holden for their generosity.
Black Dog Ride appeciates the wonderful Lions Clubs who stepped up to the hot plate again, the brilliant team at Yahava Koffeeworks and their magnificent MotoKafe biker baristas Jeremy and Dave, our tireless volunteer Ride Coordination Teams, all the generous donors, and our beneficiaries Lifeline and Mental Health First Aid.
The biggest shout out of all goes to the Black Dog Riders who participated, you made the 2015 Ride to the Red Centre the most successful and memorable yet.
From several dozen Black Dog Riders meeting in the Red Centre in 2010, to 500 Black Dog Riders participating in 2015 - 400 of whom would ride all the way to Uluru - the groundswell of support for Black Dog Ride's mission has made it's mark on the Australian community. Raising hundreds of conversations about depression and suicide prevention amid thousands of kilometres covered, the road to the Red Centre has been filled with inspiring stories of hope and resilience.
Black Dog Riders set out to to the Red Centre to start a national conversation about suicide prevention and raise funds for mental health services, and has built a strong national network of mental health advocates, ensuring an enduring legacy of awareness in every community.
Thank you, Black Dog Riders.