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Riders start conversations about mental health in rural communities | Photos, Video

Riders start conversations about mental health in rural communities | Photos, Video

  • Peter Macpherson, Belmont and Ross Tinkler, Wagga Wagga.

  • Robert Millstead and Brett Nunn, both from Dubbo.

    Robert Millstead and Brett Nunn, both from Dubbo.

  • Sebastiaan (left), from the Blue Mountains and Sydneys Duncan White ahead of the Dubbo to Darwin trip.

    Sebastiaan (left), from the Blue Mountains and Sydneys Duncan White ahead of the Dubbo to Darwin trip.

  • Ivan L.Hales, from Narromine/Dubbo, with Tuxedo.

    Ivan L.Hales, from Narromine/Dubbo, with Tuxedo.

  • Member for Dubbo Troy Grant addressed the crowd and spoke about his own battles with mental illness.

    Member for Dubbo Troy Grant addressed the crowd and spoke about his own battles with mental illness.

  • Alex Ferguson from Lifeline Central West looks on in the crowd.

    Alex Ferguson from Lifeline Central West looks on in the crowd.

  • Dubbo Black Dog rider Greg Markwick (third from left), with his fellow motorcyclists listen on in the crowd.

    Dubbo Black Dog rider Greg Markwick (third from left), with his fellow motorcyclists listen on in the crowd.

  • The event was supported by the Dubbo Pink Angels.

    The event was supported by the Dubbo Pink Angels.

  • NSW Police Western Region Commander, assistant commissioner Geoff McKechnie was part of the police convoy to lead the Black Dog riders out of Dubbo.

    NSW Police Western Region Commander, assistant commissioner Geoff McKechnie was part of the police convoy to lead the Black Dog riders out of Dubbo.

  • Destination Outback event director Brett (Macca) McCarthy (left) presents a cheque to the Black Dog Ride NSW Ride Coordinator Wayne Amor.

    Destination Outback event director Brett (Macca) McCarthy (left) presents a cheque to the Black Dog Ride NSW Ride Coordinator Wayne Amor.

  • Dubbo MP Troy Grant and long-time Black Dog rider, Padre, who delivered a prayer for a safe journey.

    Dubbo MP Troy Grant and long-time Black Dog rider, Padre, who delivered a prayer for a safe journey.

  • Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

    Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

  • Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

    Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

  • Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

    Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

  • Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

    Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

  • Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

    Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

  • Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

    Departing for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip.

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.

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 Waggas 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.

“Its really interesting that people that wont talk to their family or doctor about something but theyll talk to a complete stranger, because they can then walk away,” he said.

“But if we can get people thinking, and talking, thats great.”

“Weve 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 weve got to realise theres 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.

“Theres a lot of people riding because they have lost someone to suicide … its a bit of a moving therapy.”

This story Riders start conversations about mental health in rural communities | Photos, Video first appeared on Western Magazine.

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