Black Dog One-Dayer roars through Avon Valley

THE BLACK Dog Ride ‘One-Dayer’ is an annual one-day motorcycle ride held in more than 50 communities across Australia on Sunday 17 March 2024.

The local One-Dayer is called the Avon Valley Black Dog Ride and saw 71 riders meet at the Mount Helena Tavern before departing for a leisurely meander through valley back roads.

After a brief leg stretch at the Grass Valley Tavern the two-and-a-half-hour ride finished in Toodyay – with the total ride distance being 160km.

Riders, support crew, locals and dignitaries including State Opposition Leader and local MP, Shane Love, then enjoyed an afternoon of chat and camaraderie for a lunch, cooked by Toodyay Locals Care, and post ride refreshments at the Toodyay Club.

The Avon Valley One-Dayer, after a pause for a few years, has been back and running
Black Dog One-Dayer roars through Avon Valley since 2020.

Local ride coordinator, Wes Sutton, said, “After I signed up for the One-Dayer in 2018 and discovered the Avon Valley ride wasn’t operating, I attended the Baldivis ride for a couple of years as it was the only ride out of Perth at the time.

“Recognising the need for a ride to accommodate those living in the eastern and northern suburbs, I approached Black Dog Ride and took on the role of Avon Valley coordinator.”

Over the last five years the local One-Dayer has visited many Avon Valley townsites with Toodyay being a favourite for many riders.

Wes said joining the Black Dog Ride’s One -Dayer was an enjoyable and meaningful way to help the organisation achieve its mission of starting conversations about depression and suicide prevention.
“More than 3,000 lives are lost to suicide in Australia every year, and one in five Aussies will be affected by mental illness every year, with three million living with depression or anxiety,” he said.
“The tragic loss of loved ones to suicide is what drives Black Dog Ride to build a community culture of awareness, inclusion and acceptance.”

By participating in the event, locals helped to break down the barrier of silence and encouraged friends, family and colleagues to seek help to manage mental illness so they can lead a meaningful, fulfilling life.

Beyond Blue’s lead clinical adviser Grant Blashki said the Black Dog Ride was an important way to raise awareness of mental health issues.

“Nine people take their lives in Australia each day, and three-quarters of those are men,” Dr Blashki said.

“Important events like the Black Dog Ride help reduce the stigma surrounding mentalhealth and suicide and bring people together to start much-needed conversations.

“Fewer men than women seek support for their mental health and community events like this can really help reduce the sense of isolation people may feel.”

Black Dog Ride Australia General Manager Lawson Dixon said fostering awareness was the catalyst for encouraging help seeking behaviour and preventing suicide.

“We’ve been helping Aussies have conversations about mental health and suicide prevention for almost 14 years and we know that every conversation, every activity, every ride and every piece of awareness we help create has the potential to change lives for the better,” Mr Dixon said.

Funds raised from the One Dayer will help contribute to the Black Dog Ride Australia Community Grants program, which is focused on supporting initiatives that help people who suffer from mental illness, help prevent suicide, and raise awareness of both mental health and suicide prevention.

Local schools, clubs, community groups and individuals can also raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention and support the vital work of Black Dog Ride by organising local fundraising activities and events, all year round.

Black Dog Ride began in 2009 as one man, Steve Andrews, decided to take to the roadson a month-long solo motorbike journey around Australia to help raise community awareness of depression and to create a
national conversation so people living with mental ill health could feel able to talk about
it and seek support.

He also raised some $34,000 for the Suicide Call Back Service and engaged thousands of Australians with his message of awareness.

Steve’s constant companion throughout the trip was a toy black dog representing the black dog of depression which Winston Churchill so famously diarised.

Steve called his dog Winston and his ride, Black Dog Ride.

Since that first journey, Black Dog Ride has developed into a national suicide prevention charity involving thousands of Australian motorcycle riders who’ve raised more than $2,200,000 for mental health services, fostering mental health awareness around the country.

Overall 6,000 riders took part in the 2024 One Dayer across Australia with $270,000 raised in ticket and merchandise sales on line and via donation platforms.

Mr Dixon expects this total to be more than $300,000 by the time all banking is complete from the 50 rides that occurred nationally, a post-covid record.

In WA, there were five ride locations (Avon Valley, Baldivis, Busselton, Denmark, and Perth Metro) with a total of 742 riders.

The local One Dayer raised $3,600.