The Black Dog Ride, Dubbo to Darwin 2018 steps up a gear

Please talk: Sebastiaan (left), from the Blue Mountains and Sydney’s Duncan White ahead of the Dubbo to Darwin trip. Photo: Jennifer Hoar.

Please talk: Sebastiaan (left), from the Blue Mountains and Sydney’s Duncan White ahead of the Dubbo to Darwin trip. Photo: Jennifer Hoar.

“JUST TALK” 

That is the plea of two Black Dog Riders to anyone who is struggling with mental health issues.

Sebastiaan, from the Blue Mountains lost his eldest son to suicide and Sydney’s Duncan White lost two work colleagues.

The motorcyclists were at the Macquarie Street rotunda early on Friday morning for the Black Dog Ride Dubbo to Darwin trip. Sebastiaan said no-one had any idea that his 14-year-old son was having suicidal thoughts.

“It was a complete surprise to everybody. That’s why we want people to talk, people have to talk,” he said.

Duncan agreed saying people who are struggling don’t open up. “You say ‘I’m fine’ and you lie to everybody, to people you’d never lie to. Don’t! Just tell them,” he said.

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This is not the first Black Dog Ride that Sebastiaan and Duncan have taken part in but both said the Dubbo to Darwin trip was the most important one.

“I love the camaraderie... we go on these rides a couple of times a year and we’re instant friends,” Duncan said.

“There’s people we haven't seen for 12 months and you just walk up and say ‘g’day’, shake hands,” Sebastiaan said.

Duncan said the Black Dog Ride is a family in it’s own way.

“And it’s an extremely supportive family,” he said. “If you’re down in a hole and you make it known someone from the family will come and pick you up, always.”

Sebastiaan agreed saying conversations take off where it left off.

Approximately 100 riders from across New South Wales have taken part in the 4000 kilometre journey.

The riders will travel for eight days stopping in towns including Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Roma, Emerald, and Camooweal.

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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.

Going through the towns and talking to people about mental health is paramount to the riders.

“If they talk about it, they acknowledge it and they get treatment,” Duncan said.

“Rather than dissolving into a downward spiral.

“We want people to talk about mental illness, suicide and depression.”

Sebastiaan agreed saying if you’re struggling and want to talk but don’t know where to start, to just ring Lifeline

“Its anonymous and it’s free,” he said.

Duncan said he personally knows Lifeline call takers and said they are genuine, lovely people.

Both riders also acknowledged the fact of how desperate things are for rural people going through the drought.

“We’re hoping the presence of 100 motorbikes in western NSW will bring rain,” Duncan said.

“There’s a whole bunch of us who have declined to bring wet weather gear which is a rain magnet for motorcyclists,” Sebastiaan said.

“So we’re trying. We hope it rains, we really do.”

Both riders thanked the Dubbo community for having them.

“People are so lovely and friendly…. people want to have a wave. I like the feeling.” Sebastiaan said.

Both hope going through the towns allows for conversations to start about mental health.

“We can’t emphasise how important it is to just talk to somebody,” Duncan said.