MORE than 120 motorcycle riders pulled into Dubbo on Saturday, to end the first leg of the 2015 Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre.
Across 10 days and 3261 kilometres from Bathurst to Uluru, the riders hope to raise money and awareness about depression, mental health and suicide prevention, with all of the proceeds to be split 50-50 between Lifeline and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia.
For five members of the Wiltshire-Whitehair family, who are riding to honour a cousin and nephew who took his life in 2014, that awareness came too late.
"At the end of last year my cousin committed suicide. He had a young family. Long story short, that's why we're here today," Marcus Wiltshire said.
"He was the friendliest, most convivial young man and we had no idea he was suffering," Scott Whitehair said of his late nephew.
"When you look at the figures, they're staggering. There's seven [Australians taking their lives] every day but there's another 30 trying."
Ride co-ordinator Wayne Amor hopes 120 motorbikes thundering into town will help start a conversation at every point along the way.
"It's to raise awareness of depression and suicide," Mr Amor said.
"A lot of us aren't mental health trained, we're more about getting the message out there, that if you get on the phone there'll be someone to talk to."
The Dubbo Roos hosted a special Black Dog Ride round of the Blowes Clothing Cup on Saturday, sporting one-off jerseys for their match against Cowra.
Riders completed a lap of No. 1 Oval ahead of the game, and the jerseys were auctioned off at the Commercial Hotel on Saturday night.
The auction raised a total of $8325, and as of Sunday afternoon the ride had raised more than $240,000 for Lifeline and MHFA Australia.
The Wiltshire-Whitehair family alone had raised $7500 so far.
"We wouldn't be doing the ride except for Mitch. We want to do our bit to make sure that it doesn't happen to anyone else," Scott Whitehair said.