AN IDEA that began five years ago when lone motorcyclist Steve Andrews rode around Australia has gathered momentum.
Close friends of Mr Andrews had taken their own lives as a result of depression.
The ride was to alert others about depression and suicide. Now an annual event, this year's Black Dog Ride will take 32 days and cover about 15,000 kilometres, raising funds to help those battling depression.
Among those taking part this year is Peter Monk, of Oyster Bay, who was behind a recent "awareness" gathering with other riders at Southgate Shopping Centre. It raised $1200.
The riders were joined by a toy dog named Winston, after former British prime minister Winston Churchill, who attributed his bouts of gloom to a mythical black dog.
"Most of us are just old, grubby bikers, wanting to make a difference, enjoy a ride and help a mate, friend or relative in their worst hours of need," Mr Monk said. "This is such an amazing and successful campaign raising over $1.3 million for Lifeline and its Mental Health First Aid program.
"It is also showing so many people there is hope and support . . . to get them over their depression and save so many lives."
Participants leave Gosford on July 26. A core group of about 70 riders will travel around Australia and will be joined in each state by 200 to 300 riders.